Elton Brand left behind all those power forward battles in the Western Conference for some new tough ones in the Atlantic Division.




Brand signed with the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, the biggest move on the first day NBA deals could be completed. A power forward was the Sixers' biggest need in free agency, and they got perhaps the best one available.




"I'm prepared to do some big things this year," Brand said. "They were one of the best teams in the second half of the season last year. I've been following them for a while and I see myself fitting in on the court."




Teammate Corey Maggette was set to join him in leaving the Los Angeles Clippers for an offer with the Golden State Warriors &

who had previously targeted Brand. At least the Clippers had some success in free agency, getting Baron Davis to head home from the Bay Area.




After years of matching up with the likes of Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki out West, Brand landed in an Atlantic Division that now features a Jermaine O'Neal-Chris Bosh tandem in Toronto, with Kevin Garnett already in Boston.




A conference that just two years ago sent three .500-or-worse teams to the postseason looks much tougher now.




"Everybody's been talking about how the East hasn't been strong," Knicks president Donnie Walsh said. "Well, one thing I know, that changes. They get strong."




Walsh recalled that the West wasn't as deep early in his tenure with the Indiana Pacers, but that has clearly changed.




"There were a lot of bad teams," Walsh said. "Look over there now, that gets corrected real quick. They go out and get players and they rectify that. So the same thing's going to happen in the East."




The 76ers were able to sign Brand to a big deal because they sent forward Rodney Carney and a future No. — pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a trade that cleared an additional $2 million in salary cap space.




O'Neal went from the Pacers to the Raptors in a deal that was agreed upon before last month's draft. Toronto sent point guard T.J. Ford, center Rasho Nesterovic, forward Maceo Baston and the draft rights to center Roy Hibbert to the Pacers for O'Neal and the draft rights to forward Nathan Jawai.




Moving Ford cleared the way for the Raptors to re-sign Jose Calderon and make him the starter after he was mainly the backup before Ford was hurt last season.




With O'Neal joining Bosh, Toronto should be one of the league's strongest interior duos &

and O'Neal doesn't care what his role in it is.




"This is Chris' team," O'Neal said. "I'm here to help him lead. He's been a centerpiece for quite some time and he's a hell of a talent. I'm not into whose team this is, I'm into success. I've been through some rough times over the past four years and to get this opportunity, it makes you want to do whatever is necessary for this team to be successful."




Walsh brought in a new point guard, signing Chris Duhon to either compete for the starting job, or inherit it if the Knicks part ways with Stephon Marbury before next season.




In other free agent moves:




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162; The Sacramento Kings re-signed point guard Beno Udrih, keeping Mike Bibby's successor with a five-year deal.




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162; James Jones signed a five-year contract with the Miami Heat, one that'll pay him $4 million next season and could be worth more than $23 million over the life of the deal.




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162; Center DeSagana Diop returned to the Dallas Mavericks, who traded him to New Jersey in the Jason Kidd deal. Diop signed a five-year, $31 million deal.