Dillon Brooks

Dillon Brooks Suspended One Game; Donovan Mitchell Fined

Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks has been suspended for one game without pay after an altercation with Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, who received a $20K fine, the NBA announced (via Twitter).

Brooks was suspended for initiating the incident by “striking Mitchell in the groin area in an unsportsmanlike manner,” per the league. Mitchell was fined for escalating after “throwing the game ball at and pushing Brooks,” with a minor scrum occurring afterward.

Both players were ejected; Brooks received a Flagrant 2 Foul, while Mitchell received a technical. The incident occurred about halfway through the third quarter of Cleveland’s victory over Memphis on Thursday.

According to the NBA, Brooks will serve his suspension on Sunday against Toronto. The one-game ban will cost him $78,621, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. That’s 1/145th of his salary. Brooks is making $11.4MM in the final year of his contract.

Mitchell already stated he was going to appeal his ejection. He was very unhappy with Brooks after the game, calling it a “cheap shot” and said it was something that had “been brewing for years.”

Donovan Mitchell Rips Dillon Brooks For “Cheap Shot”

An altercation between Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell and Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks resulted in both players being ejected from Thursday night’s game in Cleveland and prompted Mitchell to take aim at Brooks in a post-game press conference.

Following a drive to the basket, Brooks ended up on the floor as Mitchell grabbed the rebound. As he rolled over, Brooks hit Mitchell below the belt with his forearm, which the Cavs star viewed as intentional rather than inadvertent. Mitchell immediately threw the basketball at Brooks and shoved him, which resulted in players and coaches from both teams joining the fray to separate the two (Twitter video link via TSN.ca).

After the game, Mitchell suggested to reporters, including Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, that Brooks should be called out for a history of questionable on-court behavior.

“That’s just who he is,” Mitchell said. “We have seen it a bunch in this league with him. Him and I have had our personal battles for years. Quite frankly, I’ve been busting his ass for years. Playoffs. Regular season. And the one game he does an alright job on me today, he decides to do something like that. No place for that in the game. Gotta protect yourself. This has been brewing for years. With me. With other guys in the league. You all see it. This isn’t new. Tonight was just the end of it.

“… Tough when you can’t guard somebody and can’t do something with somebody, you have to resort to that. I’m not typically someone who gets ejected for stuff like that. But at the end of the day, I think my reaction was reacting to a cheap shot. If punishment doesn’t come from that, he’s just going to keep doing it. It’s just dumb to be honest with you and I’m going to appeal it because I don’t think I should’ve gotten ejected for defending myself.”

It’s fair to assume that both players will at least be fined for the incident, and suspensions aren’t out of the question either. Asked what sort of punishment might be appropriate for Brooks, Mitchell declined to offer any specific ideas, but said “it should be something.”

“It’s complete bulls–t. They talk s–t and that’s fine. That’s all part of basketball,” Mitchell said. “We all grew up playing that way. But when you start doing little cheap s–t like that, that ain’t it.

“… The NBA has to do something about it. I’m not the only person this has happened to and there’s no place for that in this game. I took matters into my own hands. When you have a cheap shot like that, there was no need to do that.”

Mitchell’s backcourt mates Ricky Rubio and Darius Garland both referred to Brooks’ play as “dirty,” Fedor notes.

For his part, Brooks declined to address the altercation in any detail after the game, per ESPN, with teammate Ja Morant stepping in to say the Grizzlies wouldn’t be discussing it. Morant did say he feels as if the Grizzlies’ reputation as trash talkers have made the team as an easy target for criticism.

“Anything when it comes to negative about the Grizzlies, we normally, you know, get the punishment,” Morant said. “It ain’t the same. They (the NBA) hate us.”

Scotto’s Latest: Reid, Allen, Reddish, Poeltl, Anunoby

The Clippers and Nuggets are among the teams that have expressed interest in Timberwolves center Naz Reid, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype writes in his latest roundup of trade rumors.

Reid will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Scotto says there’s a belief around the league that he could land a contract worth the full taxpayer or non-taxpayer mid-level exception. Although he’s primarily a backup, Reid has been effective amid injuries to Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, averaging 15.4 PPG in seven games as a starter this season.

The Wolves are also exploring offers for D’Angelo Russell, and Scotto suggests that both Minnesota players might be moved in deals involving L.A.’s Terance Mann or Denver’s Bones Hyland, whom Connelly drafted during his time with the Nuggets.

Scotto offers more insight into the trade market with the deadline nearing:

  • The Knicks would like to acquire Grayson Allen from the Bucks as part of a deal involving Cam Reddish, although Scotto notes that might not be realistic given Allen’s inclusion in other trade rumors. Allen is a starter in Milwaukee and is a valuable shooter, connecting at 39.5% from three-point range, while Reddish has been benched in New York for the past 25 games. Allen has been mentioned in deals involving the Suns’ Jae Crowder and the Rockets’ Eric Gordon, which Scotto sees as more likely. However, he adds that the Bucks and Knicks have talked about a Reddish deal that doesn’t involve Allen, so the fourth-year forward could still wind up in Milwaukee.
  • The Spurs may be able to land a first-round pick and a young player in exchange for center Jakob Poeltl. That’s probably the limit, Scotto adds, because Poeltl will be a free agent this summer and will likely get a new contract starting around $20MM per season. If they don’t trade him by the deadline, Scotto expects the Spurs to give him that deal so they don’t lose him without getting something in return.
  • Two other Spurs are also in demand, with Scotto viewing one or two second-round picks as the price for Doug McDermott and one second-rounder enough to land Josh Richardson. McDermott is under contract for $13.75MM in 2023/24, while Richardson is headed toward free agency.
  • The Grizzlies are an interesting team to watch if the Raptors decide to part with OG Anunoby, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype adds in the same piece. Memphis owns all its first-round picks, along with a Warriors first-rounder in 2024 that’s top-four protected. Gozlan believes the Grizzlies might offer Danny Green and a young asset like Ziaire Williams in addition to draft capital, although Toronto might insist on Dillon Brooks. Other teams that could get involved in the Anunoby bidding, according to Gozlan, include the Trail Blazers, who reportedly offered the No. 7 pick to Toronto for Anunoby before last year’s draft, along with the Knicks, Kings and Suns.

Southwest Notes: Mavs, Doncic, Jackson, Brooks, Rockets

Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd isn’t pleased with the team’s effort on defense, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who notes that Dallas’ defensive rating, seventh in the NBA last season, has plummeted to 25th in 2022/23.

Two solid defenders, Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green, returned to action on Wednesday following injury absences, but it was still the third consecutive game in which the Mavericks gave up at least 130 points.

“It’s attention to detail and focus,” Finney-Smith said. “It’s everything. I tried to come out here with some energy, but we still end up doing the same thing. It’s everybody. It ain’t just one person. We all gotta take the challenge and start guarding. Gotta be about the care factor. We’ve got to care about stopping somebody. You should get mad if they keep scoring.”

The Mavericks’ offense, which ranked 14th last season, is up to fifth so far in ’22/23, but Kidd told reporters on Wednesday that he doesn’t want his club to get in the habit of trying to outscore its opponents in shootouts.

“Tonight, we gave up 130 points and a team shot 57 percent,” Kidd said after the loss to Atlanta. “It’s a shootaround. In this league, if you do that, no matter if you have Luka or Kareem or LeBron, you’re going to lose. It doesn’t matter how many points you score, you’re always going to be short.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Echoing Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Luka Doncic denied a report that suggested he has “strongly indicated” he wants the team to make roster upgrades by the February 9 trade deadline, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “Obviously, I know, the people who are next to me, who I talk to, they know that’s not true,” Doncic said. “I didn’t say nothing about that. I talk to (president of basketball operations) Nico (Harrison). I talk to Fin (assistant GM Michael Finley) more than I used to. But that’s just not the way I talk to them. We have great communication and that just stays between us.”
  • Grizzlies guard Ja Morant isn’t just advocating for one of his teammates to win Defensive Player of the Year — he thinks two of them should share the award. As Evan Barnes of The Commercial Appeal writes, Morant believes Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks both deserve DPOY honors, jokingly suggesting that voters (who can pick just one winner) write in “Jaren Brooks.”
  • Responding to John Wall‘s criticism of the Rockets and their culture, head coach Stephen Silas said he understood the veteran’s frustration about how his time in Houston played out, but pushed back against the notion that the team let its young prospects get away with too much, per Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle. “As far as holding them accountable, some of it is learning from mistakes, learning through adversity, and learning from film sessions,” Silas said. “It’s important for me to lay out what the expectations are. But to expect young kids not to make mistakes is unrealistic.”

Southwest Notes: Morant, Brooks, Zion, Pelicans, Wright

Grizzlies star Ja Morant is being sued, according to TMZ Sports. The lawsuit was reportedly filed by a 17-year-old who was playing a pickup game at Morant’s home over the summer. The two got in a verbal altercation and the teenager threw the ball at Morant’s face, with Morant punching him in return.

The point guard admitted to striking the teenager, per TMZ, but said it was in self-defense after he’d been threatened. Police investigated the incident and referred the matter to the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, which declined to press criminal charges, as Lucas Finton of The Memphis Commercial Appeal relays.

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Morant and the rest of the Grizzlies appreciate Dillon Brooks‘ contributions, even if some question his shot selection, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Insider link). “He’s the head of the snake on the defensive end for us,” Morant said. “Guards the best player, takes on that challenge every single day. Obviously when he’s out there, being Dillon, he gives us a lot of energy. And then once he goes to the offensive end and makes shots, it’s hard for teams to guard us.”
  • Expect the Pelicans to be very cautious with Zion Williamson‘s hamstring strain — they can be very tricky injuries and are prone to being aggravated if not fully healed, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. Williamson is officially out at least three weeks, but Guillory thinks it will be longer than that. He also expects Brandon Ingram to return to action pretty soon, though it’s hard to say exactly when — the forward has been dealing with a big toe sprain, but has been ramping up his practice activity.
  • Mavericks point guard McKinley Wright IV, who is on a two-way contract, has been getting some run lately with so many key rotation players injured. He’s grateful for the opportunity to play NBA minutes, as Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com writes. “It’s been a dream come true for me,” Wright said. “Everybody’s dream is to play in the NBA and I’ve been earning pretty valuable minutes to help contribute to our winning. Right now, that’s defending the ball, bringing energy off the bench and using my speed to get downcourt. I’m thankful to be in the position I am.” The former Colorado star has primarily played in the G League in his first two pro seasons.

Southwest Notes: Brooks, Mavs, Wesley, Bassey

The Grizzlies blew out the Bucks by 41 points on Thursday night, holding stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton to 22 total points on a combined 6-of-25 shooting. After guarding Middleton for much of the night, Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks was asked if he ought to be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year and replied that he “100%” should be, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter link).

“I don’t get the steals or the big-time blocks, but I’m going to give fits to whoever I got that night,” Brooks said.

Defensive Player of the Year voting typically favors big men, so if a Grizzlies player receives serious consideration for the award, it might end up being Jaren Jackson Jr., who is averaging 3.3 blocks per game. Still, Jackson has missed some time and it’s Brooks who is tied for third in the league in NBA.com’s defensive win shares stat at 3.8.

Let’s round up a few more Southwest notes…

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has grand ambitions for a new arena in Dallas if the state of Texas legalizes gambling and sports betting, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). “My goal, and we’d partner with Las Vegas Sands, is when we build a new arena it’ll be in the middle of a resort and casino,” Cuban told Townsend. “That’s the mission.”
  • Spurs rookie guard Blake Wesley will be available on Friday for the Austin Spurs’ game in Mexico City, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. A knee injury has sidelined Wesley since October 30 and limited him to just two NBA appearances so far this season, but it sounds like he has been cleared to return.
  • Waived by Philadelphia during the preseason, Charles Bassey made his first career start on Wednesday for the Spurs and admitted after the game that he was “a little bit” nervous. As Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required) details, Bassey got into early foul trouble and mishandled a couple passes from Doug McDermott in the pick-and-roll. “He just flat-out dropped a few of them; he told me that,” McDermott said. “I told him, ‘I am going to continue to throw it to you, because you are setting great screens. You are either going to have a shot or you are going to have a dunk. So don’t overthink it.'”

Southwest Notes: Wesley, Green, Bane, Rockets

Spurs rookie guard Blake Wesley was assigned to the G League Austin Spurs on Tuesday for practice, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News tweets. He’s expected to return to the NBA team on Wednesday. Wesley could soon be back in action after being sidelined since late October with an MCL sprain. At that time, he was expected to be out six-to-eight weeks, so it appears he’s progressing as scheduled. 

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Josh Green will miss the Mavericks‘ game against the Cavaliers on Wednesday, the team’s PR department tweets. Green hasn’t played since Friday due to a right elbow sprain. He did some dribbling drills and an individual shooting workout after practice on Tuesday, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News tweets.
  • The Grizzlies went 1-5 without Desmond Bane at one point but have now won six straight with the shooting guard sidelined by a toe injury. They’ve achieved that due to Ja Morant‘s playmaking, Dillon Brooks getting more minutes with the second unit and Jaren Jackson Jr. becoming a dominant force, according to Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  • The Rockets will have significant cap space after this season. How should they use it? The Athletic’s Kelly Iko and Danny Leroux explore that topic.

Grizzlies Notes: Jackson, Bane, Brooks

Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who continues to recover from offseason foot surgery, began the team’s recent four-game road trip doing two-on-two workouts and has since advanced to three-on-three sessions, head coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters, including Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

The Grizzlies and Jenkins are hopeful that Jackson will be able to take another step forward in his rehabilitation process during the current three-game homestand.

“Next week we may get into the five-on-five,” Jenkins said on Friday, adding that Jackson is making good progress and his conditioning is improving. “We’re just going to see how his body is responding.”

When Jackson underwent surgery, the Grizzlies announced he would be sidelined for approximately four-to-six months. It has been just over four months since the team set that timeline, so it appears the 23-year-old remains on track in his recovery.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Desmond Bane appears to be developing into a legitimate play-maker and a star in his own right alongside Ja Morant, according to Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal, who notes that the third-year swingman has been more productive so far (24.1 PPG) than a number of players who signed nine-figure rookie scale extensions during the offseason. Bane will be eligible for a new extension of his own during the 2023 offseason and appears likely to become Memphis’ second highest-paid player behind Morant, says Giannotto.
  • Dillon Brooks‘ presence in the Grizzlies’ lineup helps takes the pressure off players like Bane, who would otherwise have to deal with a more difficult defensive assignment, Cole writes for The Commercial Appeal. “Him being back really helps, for sure,” Bane said. “My game is predicated on me running around on offense, too. If I’m chasing the best player on defense, that means I’m running all night, and regardless of what type of shape you’re in, that’s going to wear on you.” Brooks is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.
  • In case you missed it, the Grizzlies will be facing a shorthanded Wizards team on Sunday, as Bradley Beal has been ruled out after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Bucks, Heat Have NBA’s Oldest Rosters; Thunder Youngest

The Bucks have the NBA’s oldest opening night roster this season, per a 2022/23 roster survey published by the league on Tuesday.

According to the NBA’s data, the average age of a Milwaukee player is 29.47 years old, with 36-year-olds George Hill and Wesley Matthews and 35-year-old Joe Ingles among the veterans contributing to that league-high average. The Heat (average age of 28.13 years old), Suns (28.05), Clippers (27.98), and Mavericks (27.89) have the next-oldest rosters, according to the NBA.

On the other end of the spectrum, no team has a younger roster than the Thunder, whose current group includes just one player older than 27 (Mike Muscala, who is 31). The average age of a Thunder player is just 23.14 years old, putting them ahead of fellow rebuilding teams like the Rockets (23.58), Spurs (23.84), and Magic (23.94). Interestingly, the Grizzlies (24.27) are the league’s fifth-youngest team, despite coming off a 56-win season.

Here are a few other tidbits of note from the NBA’s roster survey for the 2022/23 season:

  • The Bucks and Thunder are also the most and least experienced NBA teams, respectively. The average Milwaukee player has 7.24 years of NBA service, while the average Oklahoma City player has just 1.94. That puts the Bucks comfortably ahead of the Clippers (6.56) and Celtics (5.82), while the Thunder are well behind the Rockets (2.29) and Magic (3.00).
  • Kentucky (27) and Duke (25) have the most players currently in the NBA of any college program. No other school has more than 12 (UCLA).
  • The average NBA player stands at 6-foot-6.74, weighs 217.62 pounds, and is 26.01 years old. The league identifies Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks (6-foot-6.5, 220 pounds, and 26 years old) as the player who most closely resembles the league’s “composite” player in terms of height, weight, and age.
  • There are 13 sets of brothers currently in the NBA, including three Antetokounmpos (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Kostas Antetokounmpo) and three Holidays (Jrue Holiday, Justin Holiday, and Aaron Holiday).
  • The league’s survey also includes some data on the youngest and oldest players, which we previously outlined here.

Injury Notes: Garland, Embiid, Curry, J. Murray, More

Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland, a first-time All-Star last season, has been ruled out of Saturday’s game at Chicago due to his eye injury, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter links). Garland didn’t travel with the team and the “current feeling” is that Garland is “improbable” to play in Cleveland’s home opener on Sunday against Washington, Fedor adds.

Garland suffered a lacerated eyelid when he was inadvertently poked in the eye by Gary Trent Jr. in the second quarter of the Cavs’ 108-105 loss to the Raptors on Wednesday. Fedor reported on Thursday that Garland does not have structural damage and won’t require surgery.

Here are some more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Sixers head coach Doc Rivers says that Joel Embiid‘s conditioning was impacted by plantar fascitiis during the offseason, as Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia relays. “He had a little plantar fasciitis before the season started — before training camp — and that took him off his conditioning program,” Rivers said. “And so he’s back on that. But listen, he’s playing with the right intentions. He just didn’t play well, and that’s OK, too. That’s going to happen. We’ve still got to win those games.” The Sixers dropped their first two games of the season, with Embiid looking pretty sluggish. Rivers reiterated that Embiid is no longer dealing with the injury, but needs to regain his rhythm and conditioning.
  • Guard Seth Curry (offseason ankle surgery) is likely to travel with the Nets for their two-game road trip next week, but “probably” needs more practice time before he returns to action, head coach Steve Nash said on Friday (Twitter link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post).
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who played his first regular season game on Wednesday since suffering a torn ACL in April 2021, is out for Friday’s game against the Warriors, head coach Michael Malone told reporters (Twitter links via Kendra Andrews of ESPN). According to Andrews, Malone said the Nuggets are resting Murray because Friday is the first of a back-to-back. However, that might not be the case for the entire season, Malone added.
  • No. 4 overall pick Keegan Murray will make his debut on Saturday against the Clippers after being a full participant in Friday’s practice, a source tells ESPN’s Marc J. Spears. Murray was fully cleared by the Kings after exiting the health and safety protocols, Spears writes.
  • Dillon Brooks (left thigh soreness) and Ziaire Williams (right knee soreness) missed their second consecutive games for the Grizzlies on Friday, the team announced (via Twitter). Memphis won its opener against New York and defeated Houston in game two.