Why Trail Blazers signing Dillon Brooks might be crazy enough to work

Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Dillon Brooks has been banished by the Memphis Grizzlies. His actions during the team’s first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers were apparently the last straw for the only franchise he’s ever known. But maybe it’s a sneaky blessing in disguise for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Brooks is an unrestricted free agent, and the Grizz informed the 27-year-old that he will not be brought back “under any circumstances,” per Shams Charania of The Athletic.

That’s a pretty damning statement coming out of Memphis, especially considering Brooks has been a relatively productive player for the Grizzlies since he entered the league in 2017.

Apparently, enough was enough, though. As Charania outlined in his piece, “In the span of the Grizzlies’ series loss in six games, he called LeBron James, the Lakers’ best player and a four-time NBA champion, “old,” “tired,” and suggested he was not as good as he used to be. Brooks punched James in the groin area in Game 3, earning an ejection.”

The former Oregon Duck also played poorly against LA, missing a defensive assignment in a key end-of-game situation and shooting just 23.8 percent from three, even with the Lakers sagging off and daring him to shoot.

Still, Brooks could end up being a good fit with the Blazers, warts and all.

Why Dillon Brooks could work with the Trail Blazers

The 6-foot-7 wing’s attitude – an attitude that was admittedly way over the top against LA – could be a welcome addition to a Portland roster looking for toughness and swagger.

Brooks’ career history is littered with button-pushing, beefs, and dirty plays. He’s gone too far on numerous occasions. But, presumably – and maybe this is just wishful thinking – his antics that forced Memphis to kick him out could wake him up and force him to reel things back in. At least a little.

And Portland could use a little crazy. Damian Lillard can ramp up the attitude meter when he gets rolling in clutch situations, but other than that, the Blazers don’t have that mean and nasty player. Maybe having “too nice of a team” isn’t a real thing in the NBA, but needing at least one wildcard on a successful roster – see Green, Draymond – is.

In terms of on-court talent, Brooks was good enough to start for a Grizzlies team that finished near the top of the Western Conference standings two years running. Yes, he had a poor series against the Lakers and a poor end to the 2022-23 campaign in general, but he’s been a legitimate starter since his rookie season.

He’s a 14.5 point-per-game scorer during his career. He’s shot 34.2 percent from three on a decent volume across his seven seasons, not a great percentage but enough that teams usually can’t just ignore him. He may not be a lockdown defender, but at 6-7 and 225 pounds, he can be a pest.

When the Grizzlies broke out and finished with the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference in 2021-22, Brooks averaged 18.4 points during the regular season, albeit in only 32 games. Memphis beat the Minnesota Timberwolves in the opening round and took the eventual-champion Golden State Warriors to six games in the Western semis.

Brooks averaged 14.6 points on 34.7 percent shooting from deep in 11 postseason contests.

The former second-round pick certainly has his flaws, a poor attitude and dirty play at the top of the list, but he’s also been a fairly productive NBA player for seven years. If Brooks can learn to reign it in a bit and be willing to take a one-year prove-it deal, maybe as part of the $12 million Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception, he could be a useful piece in Portland.

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Then again, Brooks apparently feels like he’s worth $25 million a season and believes that’s why he and the Grizzlies parted ways, so who knows where Dillon is going to end up in the future.