Hopefully the title makes you think of Sharon Stone's glory years, but if it doesn't by some awful sad chance, your loss. However, this proposal has nothing to do with her. It has to do with the Clippers, and since I'm not a Clippers fan, I'm a proud Kings fan sadly (anyone willing to swap decadent history is understandable, but the Kings have had better players and better overall seasons than the Clippers/Braves have had), but given the pain the Clippers faithful have to be feeling, and rightfully so, I thought I'd offer my 2 cents.
First I'd like to state that what happened with "F"Elton is fairly dumb on several levels. Whether it was mis-communication, or the machiavellian designs purported by David Falk, the end result is that Elton Brand altered how history may remember him. And it would suggest, on any reasonable level anyway, that this will cost him. This isn't Shaquille O'Neal to the Lakers in 1996 or anything. This is Elton Brand going to a team that won 40 games in an Eastern Conference so bad it awarded them the 7th seed for doing so. This does not suggest an upwards career move made by Brand that puts him in a greater chance of winning a ring at some point. What it really does is stick him in a middle position of the Eastern Playoff Picture that LeBron James is currently stuck in, but with a team less talented like the Cavs, is that anything of an accomplishment? Elton Brand with almost all probability, and barring a major talent acquisition on the Sixers part, and moving Andre Miller does not suggest that the Sixers will be able to achieve that, Brand will never win a ring in his career until he's 35 or older. By then he will be a role player at best on a title winning team. As I said, he screwed himself, and the reason's aren't so clear.
Remember my last paragraph when reading this one. First off he left a better PG when healthy in Baron Davis for one. He left a more productive "C"enter in Chris Kaman for a largely underachieving under-producing Samuel Dalembert. Thornton, at the very least, has probably as much upside as Thaddeus Young does. They were after all drafted 13th and 14th overall in the 2007 draft. So if for nothing else, and I say that, Elton Brand made a lateral move. Not a unilateral move perse, but certainly not a move intended to hop scotch his way into NBA history with a ring. If anything he hurt himself in this area. The Celtic's are still ready to win a ring next season, and Detroit could always get there, and it's a possibility Danny Ferry could wake up and smell the coffee in Cleveland and provide the help LeBron needs. It's a probability Elton may never outplay Dwight Howard, and last I checked he's already reaching the senior citizen age of 22. Well, for players drafted out of High School anyway. The move, from a basketball standpoint makes less sense than it does one from an emotional standpoint. The relationship Brand had with DTS and Clipper management played a larger role than anyone realized. And, it's probably easier to say at this point the Clippers just got Falked.
So where do the Clippers go from here? Sign Josh Smith? (I wouldn't.) Sign Emeka Okafor? (Again, Ditto, I wouldn't.) Luol Deng? Andre Igoudala? Nope, I wouldn't do that either. Why pay for a lower rung All-Star? Don't the Clippers at least have that potentially in Chris Kaman already? Or at the very worst Baron Davis? What does signing another lower tier highly risky signing just because Brand made a stupid career decision (not in terms of All-Star berths or with East Coast media pecker tracks dying to cover a better NBA east of the Mississippi)? It doesn't seem to make sense to me to use the past (cheap!cheap!cheap!) to dictate the future. Sometimes you have to go back to go ahead. Which is why I suggest this.
Don't sign Okafor or Smith. Okafor has a long injury history inheritated from at least his time at UConn, and Smith is unstable to say the least. Can he be counted at this point to be the type of PF that "F"Elton Brand was for the Clippers? No, because he is not that type of player. Brand is more of a half court player, and Smith is almost certainly an up tempo full court type of player. While I don't think Smith's talent is perfect or anything, I also don't think using a bunch of free agent money free'd up by Brand and Maggette's departure makes sense either. You solved one issue with Baron Davis signing on. Now with the rest of the roster you have Gordon, Thornton, and Kaman as the main asset's. At this point you either build around them (not a terrible idea) or you simply add an extra piece to move forward. I don't really believe Josh Smith is that extra piece personally. Maybe I'm wrong. Lord knows that has happened many times before. I'm not really sure how signing Deng or Igoudala makes sense with Thornton around. (Moving Thornton for Deng or Igoudala does make sense if they were better players than they actually are.)
So again, if you're the Clippers how do you go? One possible route is Andrei Kirilenko. Tim Thomas for AK47? Is that worth the extra money you would be paying for Kirilenko? He does have 3 years and 50 million dollars left. That would be alot of money to commit for Kirilenko given the type of player he is. But risks like these are usually what happens. And the Clippers do have the cap space, and will have to spend at least 44 million dollars anyway because of minimum salary obligations. That's one option. Another option is to sit on the salary cap room, and only sign as much salary as you need to until 2009 to take advantage of that season, that and teams looking at 2010 rather than 09 to sign a free agent. That could work to the Clippers advantage to be one of the few teams out there with salary cap room on the 09 market as well. It's also possible that Okafor and Smith may just sign tender offers and wait until 2009 to sign a big deal in Free Agency rather than try to leverage the Restricted Free Agency both are in for bigger deals when both teams are content to sit on their hands and let other teams dictate the market. They could both take a cue from Elton Brand and be a little patient. (That remains the most curious thing about all of this. Brand biding his time until he could opt out, then saying he wanted to be with the Clippers, but then turning around on the drop of a hat to sign with the Sixers doesn't show much business sense on his part. I'm just saying. Dude wanted to leave the Clippers so badly that he signed an offer sheet with Miami knowing full well, and begged Sterling not to match it, only to see Sterling do the smart thing and do so. If anything David Falk is giving Sterling a big F U, and hanging Brand's legacy in the balance. Again, and I say again, Elton Brand's business sense doesn't quite seem all there.)
What's my suggestion? Either you take a player like Kirilenko in a straight swap for Tim Thomas, with the main virtues being that the Clippers get a good player, and the Jazz save some salary and headaches. It could work. Or you could fill the roster out with cheap talent, and make a player for a cheap talent like Brian Scalabrine, on a team like the Celtic's with luxury tax obligations, who will gladly give him up to save some tax and get rid of the obligation for next season. It also gives the Clippers an expendable trade chip for next off-season as well. Or maybe you can construct a complicated 3 way trade with the Cavs and the Celtics, dealing a cheap contract to Boston, and sending Scalabrine to Cleveland, and taking back Eric Snow's expiring contract saving the Cavs and Celtics money, while receiving an expiring deal and meating the minimum salary obligation. Either way, with cap space you have options. They are not entirely through the free agent market, and as many of you have already mentioned, lamented, noted (ironically), or simply stated, you're probably going to overpay for a guy on the Free-Agent market. So why do what the Warriors did and sign a guy at a position of strength for the club when you don't have to? (Not a question of Corey Maggette's value as much as why did the Warriors sign him with Harrington and Jackson on the roster. It just makes little sense is what I'm saying.) I think the Clippers are better off either trying to take a player off Utah's hands for a cheaper price (straight up Thomas for Kirilenko like swap), or simply make a play for an expiring contract on a tax paying team and give up a cheaper player to accomplish it. Sit on the cap space until next season where more players and more situations are there for you to make the move. In a weak market, making a desperate play only does one thing: It makes you look desperate, and accomplishes little else.