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Wednesday, July 16
Brand becomes third Clipper to get offer sheet

Associated Press

Free agent Elton Brand signed an offer sheet with the Miami Heat on Wednesday, a move that will force the Los Angeles Clippers to match the deal or lose the rights to the former All-Star forward.

One-Time Offers
The Clippers are facing a full-court press to keep some of their stars.

Denver is going to make it tough on Los Angeles to keep Andre Miller.

The point guard signed a six-year, $51 million offer sheet -- with another $4.5 million available in bonuses -- with Denver on Wednesday.

Denver will give Miller $14 million up front, including $10 million of which will be in the form of a signing bonus. The point guard will also receive 70 percent of his first year's salary by Oct. 15, ESPN's David Aldridge reported Wednesday.

If the Clippers match Brand's offer sheet from the Heat, Miami will likely go after Lamar Odom, who is also a restricted free agent.

Los Angeles has contacted Odom's agent in hopes of reaching a contract extension.

-- news services

The Clippers, who previously offered Brand an extension worth more than $60 million, have 15 days to match the offer.

"This organization has always been committed to winning,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said in a statement. "This offer sheet for Elton Brand is a continuance of that commitment to try to win and put the best possible players on the floor for our fans to enjoy.''

The Heat did not disclose terms of the offer sheet, which is believed to be a six-year deal worth $84.2 million.

Brand, who has averaged 19.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in his four NBA seasons, would fill Miami's need for a true inside presence. The Heat were the NBA's second-lowest scoring team last season and ranked 18th in rebound differential.

Brand, the best available power forward in this year's free agent market, spent his first two seasons with Chicago and the last two with the Clippers. He was an All-Star in 2002, the first Clippers player to be selected for the game since Danny Manning in 1994.

He averaged 18.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game last season, overcoming the first two serious injuries of his career -- right knee surgery in September, then a stress fracture in his leg that caused him to miss 18 games in February and March.

Brand returned for the final nine games of the Clippers' season, averaging 19.0 points and 12.2 rebounds during that stretch, fully recovered from the leg problem.

Two of Brand's Clippers teammates, shooting guard Corey Maggette and point guard Andre Miller, also signed offer sheets Wednesday. Maggette signed a six-year offer sheet from the Utah Jazz; Miller signed a six-year, $51-million offer from the Denver Nuggets.

The offer sheets to Brand and Miller were believed to be structured in such a way as to force Clippers owner Donald Sterling to make huge immediate lump sum payments -- up to $28 million in Brand's case alone -- if he decides to match.

Clippers executive vice president Andy Roeser said the team will evaluate the offer sheets before making a decision.

"As we have repeatedly said, it is our intention to match any and all offers as we see fit, with a goal of maintaining the nucleus of our team,'' Roeser said.

The Heat had also courted free-agent centers Brad Miller and Michael Olowokandi during this offseason as possible replacements for Alonzo Mourning, who spurned Miami and signed a four-year contract Wednesday with the New Jersey Nets. Miller remained available, as of Wednesday evening; Olowokandi accepted a three-year deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Clippers stand to lose at least half their roster if they choose not to re-sign any of their free agents. Besides Brand, Maggette, Olowokandi, Miller, other Clippers free agents include Lamar Odom, Sean Rooks and Eric Piatkowski.

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