Elton Brand is expected to make his long-awaited return to the Los Angeles Clippers this week. Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said that Brand, who has missed the entire season with an Achilles tendon injury, definitely will play Sunday against the Rockets, but the forward might return as soon as Thursday against the Kings. "I love to hoop," Brand said, according to The Los Angeles Times. "I'm excited to go out there and really give it a test." Brand, who averaged 20.5 points and 9.3 rebounds last season, tore his left Achilles tendon Aug. 3 during a workout. Without Brand, the Clippers are 22-52. Last season with Brand, the Clippers were 40-42 and missed out on qualifying for the playoffs by two games.
The first instinct here is "why would you risk a reaggravaton of the injury?" But, let's be honest: The guy is no more likely to re-injure himself in a league game than in a full contact practice or an intense summer workout. Then there's the matter of the lottery. My uninformed sense is that Dunleavy will keep Brand's minutes to a minimum over the next couple of weeks. But I think there's real value in seeing how Thornton and Brand operate together at the 3 and 4 respectively -- if not for the team's overall development, than for my personal edification, dammit.