Dillon Brooks was once viewed as a core and integral piece of the Memphis Grizzlies, but that is set to change as the team enters its next chapter, according to a report from The Athletic on Tuesday.
According to the report, the Grizzlies have told Brooks he will not return to Memphis.
An attempt to contact the Grizzlies was not immediately successful Tuesday.
General manager and president of basketball operations Zach Kleiman spoke highly of the trio of Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr during Sunday’s season-ending news conference. Each player is expected to take the next step as leaders as the Grizzlies chase championship contention, which is a role Brooks has served as the “heart and soul” of the team.
Brooks had a disappointing series shooting just 31.2% from the floor as Lakers defenders frequently sagged off him to clog the paint and created distractions by calling LeBron James “old” and declaring, “I poke bears,” after the Grizzlies’ Game 2 victory.
“We’re going to take a different approach as it pertains to trash talk next season,” Grizzlies general manager Zach Kleiman said Sunday during the team’s exit interviews. “You’ll see a different approach from this team, but at the same time, confidence is important”.
Asked specifically about Brooks, Kleiman said: “I’ll hit on DB another day. Nothing I can comment on for now with him going into free agency.”
Brooks, an elite wing defender who complained during the playoffs about being portrayed as a “villain,” led the NBA with 18 technical fouls this season, resulting in two separate one-game suspensions. He was suspended another game for striking Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell in the groin area, starting a scuffle between them.
Brooks, 27, averaged 14.3 points on 39.6% shooting this season. His poor shot selection had long been a cause of frustration within the organization, and Brooks repeatedly mentioned his reduced role this season during his Sunday exit interview with Memphis media.
“I don’t think I lost anything on the offensive end,” said Brooks, who averaged a career-high 18.4 points in 2021-22. “I was just there to 3-and-D, shoot and play defense. I got way more to my game than that.”
The Grizzlies’ plans to not bring back Brooks were first reported Tuesday by The Athletic.
Dillon Brooks’ first round series
The end of Brooks tenure in Memphis comes after he was at the center of attention in their first round series. Following the Grizzlies’ 103-93 Game 2 win to even the series at 1-1, Brooks called LeBron James “old” and said “I don’t respect no one until they come and give me 40 (points).”
In Game 3 in Los Angeles, Brooks received heavy jeers from the crowd before he was ejected in the second half after hitting LeBron James in the groin. The Lakers went on to win the series in Game 6 with a blowout 40-point victory.
Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins talked about the team’s lack of maturity during the Lakers series, and after the series, Grizzlies general manager Zach Kleiman mentioned “self-created distractions.”
Brooks told reporters he wasn’t going to change and that talking trash is part of who is as a player.
“I don’t regret it,” Brook said. “I’m a competitor. I compete.”
In six seasons with the Grizzlies, Brooks averaged 14.5 points per game, with several career highs coming in the 2021-22 season.
When Jayson Tatum was fouled on the ensuing offensive possession, Rivers subbed in Georges Niang for Paul Reed before Tatum hit his second free throw, electing not to use his final timeout and instead presenting Harden with a chance to hunt out his preferred matchup.
And, once Harden realized the Celtics weren’t going to send a double-team at him, he did exactly that.
“I came off the screen and I was wondering if they were going to put two on the ball,” Harden said. “And so when I cross-screened and pulled the ball back out, it was just like, ‘Stay home, it’s a one-on-one.’ Then I’m just looking up and I’m just saying, ‘All right, this is what I work on every day.’
Afterward, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla was asked whether he thought Boston should have tried to double-team Harden on that final possession, rather than leaving him isolated against Horford, given the rhythm he got into during the game.
“We doubled in the first half, and they got six points off double-teams on Harden,” Mazzulla said. “Hindsight is always 20-20. If we didn’t double him, it would have been great defense. If we did double him, and they hit a shot, it would’ve been, ‘Why did we double him?'”
But the Celtics didn’t double Harden, and he rose up and buried a dagger into Boston and its sellout crowd of 19,156, giving the 76ers a monumental victory.
Not only did the 76ers steal back home-court advantage in the series, but they did so without Embiid who could become the NBA’s Most Valuable Player on Tuesday night, when either he, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic or Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Giannis Antetokounmpo will be named the winner.
Now, as Embiid recovers from that sprained LCL, the 76ers have already accomplished what they set out to do upon arriving in Boston.
“I think we take pride in playing without the big fella,” 76ers forward P.J. Tucker said. “As good as he is, I think it gives others opportunities to step up and play. James can kind of do his thing, Tyrese is obviously really good without Jo, and everybody else everybody took a little step up with him out. It’s like a pride thing for us.”
It was clearly a pride thing for Harden, who said after Philadelphia’s Game 4 win over the Brooklyn Nets to close out a first-round sweep that his focus this season has been on sacrificing for the betterment of the team. But, on this night, with Embiid sidelined, it wasn’t about sacrificing it was about being aggressive and trying to carry Philadelphia to a win.
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