The year was 1999. Impeachment proceedings were brought against former president Bill Clinton, Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France and Chris DeWolfe first introduced MySpace to the world.
But what happened during the NBA draft that year for the Chicago Bulls would mark the beginning of their rebuilding process following two decades of domination and success.
Coming off of a shortened lockout season that saw the retirement of Michael Jordan and the departures of Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and head coach Phil Jackson, the Bulls would acquire the No. 1 pick in the draft after finishing 13-37 with a less than stellar roster and a head coach in Tim Floyd who couldn’t find success at the professional level.
Desperate to become prominent again in the league, Chicago needed someone who could provide optimism to a team that was stuck in the cellars of the Eastern Conference.
In comes Elton Brand.
The Duke product out of Peekskill, New York, Brand was named the consensus player of the year after leading the Blue Devils to the Final Four his sophomore year and was destined to represent the city of Chicago for a number of years.
While he did have two productive seasons in the Windy City, the Bulls eventually traded him the Los Angeles Clippers for the rights to Tyson Chandler, who spent a good amount of time coming off the bench rather than rebounding and blocking shots as the starting center.
Now at 35 years old, Brand has grown to be a respected player that can do everything defensively and offensively. His contributions on the court earned him a spot on the All-NBA second team in 2006, as well as receiving the Co-Rookie of the Year award in 2000 and playing in two All-Star games back in 2002 and 2006.
However, Brand’s 16.6 points and 8.8 rebound career averages haven’t been enough for him to appear in as many postseason series as someone at his age might have hoped to achieve.
Spending most of his career with some below average Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers teams, the furthest Brand has advanced in the playoffs was back in 2012 when Philly reached the second round after defeating a Bulls team that didn’t their star player in Derrick Rose for a majority of that series.
As the number of minutes and points scored per game have severely decreased since being amnestied by Philadelphia, there’s a possibility that Brand could call it quits from the game that’s been a major part of his life since his freshman year of high school.
But considering that Brand played a role in trying to get the Atlanta Hawks back to the postseason and almost upsetting the Indiana Pacers in the first round back in May, it’s hard to believe that Brand can’t be a veteran leader in a locker room for another year.
Last season with the Hawks, Brand appeared in 73 games, including 15 starts, averaging 5.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.2 blocks in 19.4 minutes played per game. He also shot 53.9 percent from the floor and 64.9 percent from the free throw line.
As we head toward the middle of August, Brand has yet to find a team that has an interest in bringing in his services for 2014-15. But Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors projected on Monday that Brand and the Bulls would agree to a deal.
If this actually happened, wouldn’t it make for a heartwarming story? A player finishing out the rest of his career with a team that took a chance on him when he was a rookie.
Signing Brand would essentially be the cherry on top to the offseason moves made by the Bulls this summer. Even though the team missed out on acquiring both Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love, they still received consolation prizes by signing both Paul Gasol and Real Madrid’s Nikola Mirotic to three-year deals.
Even though the Bulls have only 12 players guaranteed for this year, because of the abundance of power forwards and centers on the Bulls’ roster, there may not be enough room for Brand to play a respectable amount of minutes as the fifth big man behind Gasol, Mirotic, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah.
At this stage of his career, I do believe that Brand would be willing to take the veteran minimum in order to play for a contender that has a great chance to win an NBA title. While his minutes could be drastically limited, head coach Tom Thibodeau would benefit from having someone like Brand on the bench who could mentor the young players at the 4 and 5, including Mirotic and second round-draft pick Cameron Bairstow.