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Brand: Only Time Will Tell

Brand: Only Time Will TellBY GORDIE JONES

Sports Correspondent

PHILADELPHIA - It's hard to remember now, but right around this time last year there was actually a buzz about the 76ers . Elton Brand, a legit low-post mauler, had been brought in, and every so often you would see him on a television commercial, asking this: "You ready, Philly?"

Now, after a season in which Brand was hurt and the team was again mired in mediocrity, the question has been reversed: Is he ready?

He swears he is, swears he can once again be an elite power forward.

"I'm revved up," he said at the team's pre-training camp Media Day, Monday in the Wachovia Center.

Which is nice. Also predictable; everything's hunky-dory on Media Day. Why, just last year Brand claimed that his left Achilles tendon, which he tore in the summer of 2007 (limiting him to eight games during the '07-08 season, the last of seven he spent with the Clippers) was fine.

He now admits that it wasn't, that in the process of recovering from the shoulder injury he suffered last December - leading to surgery in February, and an end to his season after just 29 games - his Achilles was also allowed to fully heal.

So this is very much a wait-and-see proposition. Especially given the other matters facing the 30-year-old Brand, and the team.

We don't know, for instance, if his talents can mesh with those of the other Sixers . That appeared to be a huge issue before he was hurt last year.

We don't know how long it will take him to get in game shape, a concern new coach Eddie Jordan voiced last week. (Brand claims he's in peak form already, and he was backed up by teammates Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams, who have played pickup with him.)

We don't know how Brand will take to Jordan's Princeton offense, though most believe he is well-suited to playing the high post in such an attack.

And we don't know, really, if Brand -a career 20-and-10 guy - can be The Man on a contender. He has played for just one winning team in 10 seasons -2005-06, when the Clippers went 47-35. It's possible that he's one of those players who puts up numbers (numbers that are ultimately meaningless) for bad clubs; there are a lot of them in the NBA.

The Sixers gambled $80 million, spread over five years, that that was not the case when they signed him last summer. And at the time he appeared to be a perfect fit. Then came the injury, surgery, etc.

Brand averaged 13.8 points on 44.7-percent shooting, both career lows. The team went 13-16 in the games he played, 41-41 overall.

And what of the chemistry issues?

"It wasn't Elton," Iguodala said Monday. "We didn't have a really concrete plan. I think we had a Plan A, but no Plan B, C and so forth."

The approach under then-coach Maurice Cheeks, Iguodala said, was "just pop it inside and see what happens from there."

This is not the first slap at Cheeks; recall that Jordan last week said in reviewing tape of the '07-08 team, he saw a lot of "random Basketball."

There is order now, Jordan claims. And there is a healthy, confident post threat to build around.

"No pun intended, but there's a lot of pressure on my shoulders," Brand said. "I know what I was brought in here to do, and I look forward to that challenge."

The rest of us, meanwhile, will just wait and see.?

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 1, 2009


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