There was one difference-maker on the free-agent market this summer. He was
In the bigger picture, however, Brand isn't likely to win a championship for the young 76ers next season -- or the year thereafter. As surprising as the last week has been, none of the agreements reached thus far is likely to affect the makeup of the NBA's final four next May.
With that in mind, let's look at the early returns from the free-agent period -- taking into account that many more moves are still to be made.
One alternative to signing Brand was for the Sixers to make an offer big and front-loaded enough to pry restricted free agent
The other option was to trade for a young but experienced power forward like
This is a team of three All-Stars and quite a bit of young talent -- plus they have a few million dollars extra to sign a role player or two before training camp. If they could benefit from the good fortune of a healthy season, the Wizards could make a deep playoff run -- in which case they'll look back on the quiet success of their negotiations this summer.
By signing Smith at a reasonable number and retaining fellow restricted free agent
But now they're without Brand and
The Clippers could try to fill Brand's position by making a run at Smith, though the Hawks have promised to match any offer. They could go after another restricted free agent like
A team led by Davis and center