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February 5, 2009

Surgery for Brand

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 9:37 pm

The NBA injury plague claimed another victim Thursday, with the Philadelphia 76ers announcing that Elton Brand will undergo season-ending surgery on his right shoulder. The timing is especially interesting given the similar shoulder injury suffered by Orlando’s Jameer Nelson earlier this week. While Nelson and the Magic are deciding their course of action, Brand’s attempt to rehab his shoulder and return was unsuccessful.

Where the cases of Brand and Nelson diverge is in their importance to their respective teams. Philadelphia has actually played better without Brand (10-8) than with him in the lineup (13-16, including 10-13 as a starter). In the short term, Brand’s absence makes things somewhat easier for interim Sixers head man Tony DiLeo, who can commit to the small lineup with Thaddeus Young at power forward and Andre Iguodala at small forward that has been more successful for the team this season. Philadelphia has to be considered a good bet at this point to hold on to a playoff spot.

If the 76ers are to achieve more, however, they’re either going to have to figure out how to integrate Brand or make some kind of move, and this injury only makes that question more difficult to answer. Brand was already trying to shake off the rust of missing nearly the entire 2007-08 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, and now will have played just 35 games over a two-year span. Philadelphia can’t count on Brand’s production for 2009-10, which also will make it very difficult to move a contract that pays him $66 million over the next four years.

The winner here is rookie Marreese Speights, who saw his playing time cut dramatically during Brand’s short-lived comeback and has been extremely effective when he has been on the floor.

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