Clippers, Dunleavy crushed by Brand's departure

July, 9, 2008

I hear Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy is more crushed than angry.

Sources tell me that in a face-to-face conversation not too long ago, Elton Brand told Dunleavy that if the Clippers signed someone who could help them, he'd take less money to stay in Los Angeles.

So after getting a verbal commitment from Baron Davis, Dunleavy can't believe Brand left the Clips for Philadelphia, especially when the money was virtually even.

Brand's getting about $82 million over five years from Philly. The Clippers offered $81 million over five.

Understand that Dunleavy and Brand had a pretty tight relationship. When Dunleavy had beef with owner Donald Sterling last year, Brand spoke up on behalf of his coach, telling Sterling that he'd leave if Dunleavy was fired; that he'd enjoyed the best years of his career under him.

And now this?

I also hear that Davis is steaming. How can he not be? I don't know if he and Brand spoke to one another -- had a handshake agreement or what -- before Davis opted out, but if so, Davis has got to be furious.

Well, at least the budding movie producer will have Hollywood.

The Clippers are expected to make a play for restricted free agents Josh Smith and Emeka Okafor, and they might even look into trading for Zach Randolph. But no matter what they do, this is the ultimate downer.

They go from having a solid chance of finishing anywhere from fourth to ninth in the West to almost assuredly being Lottery-bound. They couldn't even pull off a sign-and-trade deal that would have gotten them a quality player or two for Corey Maggette.

Sad, sad day in Clipperland.

How many times have we said that?

I have to admit that, from a basketball standpoint, I understand Brand's decision.

Besides Boston, there's no one in the East who is definitely better than Philadelphia. I'm not saying Philly's moved ahead of Cleveland, Detroit and Orlando, but they should now join that pack.

I can't see Philly winning the East, though. Not yet. Still, this was a tremendous get for them.

We all know how tough it will be to make the playoffs out West, but what about the East?

Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, Orlando, Philly, Washington (assuming the Wizards are healthy) and Toronto should all be playoff locks. That's seven of the eight spots gone.

I see Atlanta, Miami, Milwaukee and Chicago battling for that final spot. And it's hard to bet against a healthy D-Wade, Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley.


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