ATLANTA — Continuing his search for good players with character, Hawks general manager Danny Ferry signed forward Elton Brand on Monday — a move that continues to give Atlanta the imprint of Duke University.
In roughly 13 months on the job, Ferry has added Quin Snyder, a teammate at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski, and traded for former Blue Devil Dahntay Jones, who is currently a free agent.
“Elton brings a veteran presence both on and off the court and is a welcomed addition to our locker room,” Ferry said in a statement. “His ability to play center or power forward will give our frontcourt a great deal of versatility, and we think he will be an outstanding fit to our program.”
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Despite the numerous moves that Ferry has made so far, he badly needed to bolster the Hawks’ veteran depth in the post. Among those who have departed, via free agency, include: Brawny 7-footer Zaza Pachulia, a fan favorite who signed with Milwaukee, and reserve power forward Ivan Johnson, who didn’t get a qualifying offer from Atlanta.
The Hawks did draft a pair of big men in 6-foot-11 Mike Muscala, a second-rounder out of Bucknell and the mid-major Patriot League, and first-rounder Lucas Nogueira, a 7-footer from Brazil. However, if neither player is ready for the rigors of NBA life, defending the likes of Roy Hibbert and David West in the paint, then Brand will more than come in handy.
Brand, 33, is a 14-year pro who is listed at 6-9, 254. He is a two-time All-Star who was a second-team all-league player in 2005-06. He also received the league’s Sportsmanship Award in 2006 and won the award at the divisional level on two other occasions.
For his career, Brand has averaged 17.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Last season with Dallas, he averaged 7.2 points and 6.0 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game, making him a solid backup to Paul Millsap and Al Horford with the Hawks. Brand ranks second among active NBA players in offensive rebounds.
Brand’s agent David Falk told HoopsHype, which is affiliated with USA Today, the deal is for one year (the salary was unknown; the Hawks did not release that information, citing team policy). The move continues another aspect of Ferry’s approach, which is, for the most part, to give out short-term deals to veterans. Millsap inked a two-year deal last week.
On Saturday, Ferry elected to match the four-year, $32-million offer sheet that point guard Jeff Teague signed with the Bucks, but Teague, 25, is still in the developmental stage of his career. Ferry also gave Kyle Korver, 32, who ranked second in the NBA last season in three-point percentage, a four-year deal, marking an exception.
Last Wednesday, Ferry described his strategy of signing players to short-term contracts with FOXSportsSouth.com.
“Shorter-term contacts can be a win-win situation,” he said. “I think it gets some people to unrestricted free agency sooner. It gets other people to a situation, maybe, where the money and spending habits of other teams will be different. All those factors play into it for the players when they’re looking at these situations.”
When he took over the Hawks last year, Ferry immediately began shedding long-term contracts with talents he no longer wanted in his program. Notably, that meant Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams.
Through this process, Ferry has guaranteed that he will have enough salary cap space to go after the league’s best players down the road, either via trade or next summer’s class of free agents (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, to name a few).
The Hawks were one of five teams that Dwight Howard visited with before agreeing to a deal with Houston.
If a player like James opts out of his deal in 2014-15, the Hawks again could be in the running. Eventually, Ferry will need to land one of those marquee players — or have his development campaign arrive to the point where the Hawks are a legitimate contender.
For now, he can try to approach the same goal on separate tracks.