Brooks is in the final year of his current contract, so he’ll become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Although Memphis holds his Bird rights, which give the club the ability to re-sign him without requiring cap room, team officials informed Brooks of their decision during exit meetings. The two sides agreed that it would be best for both to have a fresh start, Charania writes.
Brooks, 27, is considered a strong perimeter defender, but has become an increasingly erratic shooter, making a career-worst 39.6% of his field goal attempts in 2022/23. His three-point percentage dipped to 32.1% on 5.6 attempts per game during the last two seasons after he converted 35.3% of 4.5 threes per game in his first four seasons, all with the Grizzlies.
On top of his offensive struggles, Brooks’ outsized personality and aggressive playing style have gotten him into trouble both on and off the court. He received three one-game suspensions this season, once for an on-court altercation with Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell and twice for accumulating so many technical fouls.
Brooks’ performance during the Grizzlies’ first-round loss to the Lakers was considered to be a breaking point, according to Charania. Brooks referred to Lakers star LeBron James as “old” following Memphis’ Game 2 win, suggesting the NBA’s all-time leading scorer was well past his prime.
He was then ejected from Game 3 for hitting James in the groin, surrendered a pair of key baskets to LeBron in a Game 4 loss, and was eventually fined $25K for declining to speak to reporters after three games of the series (all losses). Offensively, Brooks shot just 31.2% from the field and 23.8% on three-pointers across six playoff games.
Memphis made contract extension offers to Brooks earlier in the 2022/23 league year, but they were turned down, which resulted in those discussions being shelved, Charania writes. The 27-year-old will now enter the open market after making $11.4MM this past season.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, will have to find a way to replace Brooks’ presence on defense, which won’t necessarily be easy. They’ll presumably be seeking a player who can approximate Brooks’ defensive impact and make three-pointers at least at a league-average rate while creating fewer headlines and providing less bulletin-board material when speaking to reporters.