Bye-bye, Elton Brand. See you later, Lou Williams.
The 76ers turned a mundane offseason into a monumental one by jettisoning their leading scorers from each of the last two seasons and clearing needed salary-cap space to potentially set up a bigger move.
With fans worried a surprising run to the Eastern Conference semifinals might cloud management’s view of the stale roster, team president Rod Thorn made a pair of bold moves Friday that showed the team believed changes were needed for the franchise to grow.
Step one meant saying goodbye to Brand. Thorn said the Sixers have decided to use the amnesty clause on Brand and will get about $18 million in salary-cap relief for next season. The amnesty clause allows a team to waive one player during the new labor deal and have 100 percent of his salary taken off the cap and the tax.
Brand was entering the final season of an $80 million, five-year contract. He is still owed the $18.1 million. Teams under the salary cap can now bid for Brand’s services for next season and the veteran forward is expected to be in demand by a contender.
With money to spend, the Sixers agreed Friday to a one-year contract with guard Nick Young. Young’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, told the Associated Press that the deal is for one season in the $6 million range. Deals cannot be signed until July 11. Young spent his first four-plus seasons with the Wizards before he was traded to the Clippers in March. He’s averaged 11.4 points over his career.
Williams was runner-up to Oklahoma’s James Harden in the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award, but Young’s arrival signaled the end of Williams’s run. He averaged 11.3 points over a seven-year career with the Sixers and led the team in scoring last season with 14.9 points a game.
He said after the Sixers were eliminated by the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, that, ‘‘If I was a betting man, I think I would be back.’’
Brand was a two-time All-Star when he spurned better offers and signed with Philadelphia. While Brand was the locker room leader and heart of the Sixers, his production never merited the whopping deal he signed as one of the hottest free agents around.
Paul suffers thumb injury
Point guard Chris Paul was forced to leave the opening day of training camp for the US Olympic team to get an X-ray after hurting his thumb. The Americans don’t believe the injury is serious, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo calling it a tweak of a previous injury, and they hope Paul can practice Saturday. Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh already pulled out with injuries, leaving the Americans with 15 players vying for 12 spots. The roster will be announced Saturday night . . . Spurs guard Tony Parker can play for European runner-up France in the Olympic Games after San Antonio’s doctors agreed he has recovered from an eye injury. Parker scratched his left cornea during a nightclub melee in New York last month.
Deron Williams was leaning toward signing with the Dallas Mavericks, but the Brooklyn Nets’ impending acquisition of Joe Johnson made him change his mind. “I was really close to going to Dallas,” Williams, who signed a five-year, $98 million contract with the Nets, told reporters at Team USA training camp in Las Vegas, according to the New York Daily News. “Joe got me over the hump. I’ve never played with anybody like him, a guy on the wing that can get his own shot and also get me involved and is a great defender. We could have one of the top backcourts in the NBA for sure.”
Brandon Roy agreed to terms of a two-year deal with the Timberwolves worth $10.4 million and Minnesota also agreed to terms with Nicolas Batum on a four-year, $45 million deal with bonuses that could make the deal worth more than $50 million. Roy announced his retirement in December after battling chronic knee injuries, and the Blazers used the amnesty clause on the remaining $63 million of his deal to make him an unrestricted free agent. But after receiving treatments on his knees over the last few months, Roy is ready to try to resume his career and will sign the offer sheet July 11 when the free agent moratorium ends. As a restricted free agent, the Blazers can match the offer made to Batum.
The Rockets signed Donatas Motiejunas to a multiyear contract. Motiejunas, the 20th overall pick by the Timberwolves in the 2011 draft, spent last season in the Polish League where he averaged 15.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in 26 minutes.
The Warriors signed 30th overall pick Festus Ezeli, a 6-foot-11-inch forward out of Vanderbilt, to his rookie contract.