Dillon Brooks

Rockets Notes: Brooks, Jeff Green, Jalen Green, Porter

Canadian national team head coach Jordi Fernandez was impressed by the professionalism Dillon Brooks showed during the World Cup, writes Ben DuBose of Rockets Wire. Before signing with Houston this summer, Brooks wore out his welcome in Memphis with his abrasive tactics and questionable shot selection, but Fernandez told Toni Canyameras from Mundo Deportivo that he didn’t see any of that with Team Canada.

“(He’s) excellent,” Fernandez said. “He is nothing more than a normal person who comes in and is very professional. He takes good care of himself (and does) all the work to be 100% ready to play. His work in the gym, the things he does on his own — he is a superb professional.

“Inside the locker room, he connects with his teammates, everyone respects him. He is like the rest of the group, he is nothing out of this world. He is one of the best competitors I have ever seen, and on the entire court, not only defensively, where he has superpowers, but he’s shown offensively that he can not only score but also be efficient with the quality of the shots.”

The Rockets are counting on having that version of Brooks after giving him $86MM over four years. They’re hoping he can help establish an identity on defense, where Houston has been among the league’s worst teams during its three years of rebuilding.

There’s more from Houston:

  • There are incentives in the new contracts for Brooks and fellow free agent addition Jeff Green, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Brooks will receive $1MM if the Rockets reach the first round of the playoffs, while Green can earn $1.6MM by playing in at least 55 games and averaging 19 minutes per night. Green’s bonuses are considered likely, Marks adds, based on what he did in Denver last season.
  • Pacers center Myles Turner singled out Jalen Green during a recent appearance on Tidal League’s “Run Your Race” podcast, according to a tweet from ClutchFans. Addressing the trend of young players getting overhyped on social media because of their “cutesy handles,” Turner said Green is different. “The one kid who I will say who had a lot of that hype, and I’m actually really impressed with how he’s handling it, is Jalen Green,” Turner stated. “Jalen Green came (into the league) with a LOT of that hype, bro, even before he got to the Ignite with that social media stuff. Watching him develop into the player he is right now … I have to give him a shout out. It’s actually really impressive.”
  • Attorneys for Kevin Porter Jr. are asking the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to drop second-degree assault charges after determining that he didn’t break his girlfriend’s neck during last week’s attack, per Priscilla DeGregory of The New York Post. Documents showed that Kysre Gondrezick‘s fractured vertebra was the result of a congenital defect, according to his defense team. Porter still faces a second-degree strangulation charge, which carries a maximum of seven years in prison, along with a third-degree assault charge.

Southwest Notes: Brooks, Smart, Spurs, Player Participation

The Rockets and Grizzlies made some of the splashiest moves of the summer, with Houston inking Dillon Brooks to a four-year deal worth up to $90MM and Memphis trading for longtime Celtic Marcus Smart. The Athletic’s Kelly Iko takes a closer look at both team’s additions and what fans can expect from each player.

Brooks’ play in the first round of the playoffs left much to be desired, as he averaged 10.5 points on 31.2% shooting. That led to some questions surrounding the large sum of his contract, but the Rockets knew what they were getting in the veteran forward, according to Iko.

Houston’s defensive rating hasn’t ranked above 27th in the league in the past three seasons and Brooks, a talented perimeter defender, will help address that concern, Iko writes. Brooks’ stint with the Canadian National Team at the World Cup also showed glimpses of what he can be, and he could end up having success in isolation on offense, according to Iko.

As for Smart and the Grizzlies, Iko writes that it’s a match made in heaven in terms of approach and attitude, with Smart pairing nicely with the “grit and grind” mentality of Memphis. He’s a proven commodity on the defensive end and had a career year distributing the ball last year (6.3 APG) and should help fill the void left by Tyus Jones (traded) and Ja Morant (suspension).

Iko also takes a look at what he expects Memphis’ rotation to look like to begin the year, with Smart starting next to Desmond Bane, David Roddy, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Steven Adams in his exercise. Derrick Rose, Luke Kennard, John Konchar, Santi Aldama and Xavier Tillman would be the first five off the bench in that scenario.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • After waiving Cameron Payne, the Spurs have 17 players under guaranteed standard contracts, two over the regular season limit of 15. San Antonio Express-News’ Jeff McDonald is not expecting any more players to be waived before training camps begin, suggesting that the plan is to have all 17 compete for a spot (Twitter link). Cedi Osman, Khem Birch, Devonte’ Graham and Charles Bassey are among the players who could be the odd men out.
  • The NBA’s new rules on player participation and resting stars will greatly benefit fans who want to come see their favorite star players, writes Rod Walker of NOLA.com. Walker points to the fact that Golden State superstar Stephen Curry hasn’t played in Smoothie King Arena (the home of the Pelicans) since the end of the 2020/21 season, meaning Warriors fans in New Orleans haven’t been able to see their favorite players for several years. The star players affected by this policy must have been named to an All-Star Game or All-NBA Team in the last three seasons, meaning Zion Williamson is subject to the rule but Brandon Ingram is not. Ingram, or any other New Orleans player, would be affected if they were named to an All-Star Game this upcoming season.
  • In case you missed it, the Rockets are attempting to trade Kevin Porter Jr. before training camp.

Rockets Notes: Brooks, Sengun, Landale, Porter

Dillon Brooks‘ strong World Cup performance for Canada – which earned its first-ever medal at the event – came as no surprise to Rockets general manager Rafael Stone, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). Brooks’ combination of scoring (15.1 PPG), shooting (.588 3PT%), and defense were what Stone was counting on when Houston signed him to a four-year, $86MM contract in July.

“I’m really happy for Dillon,” Stone said. “Largely, he’s the player that we thought we were signing. So, it’s not at all surprising. But it’s great. And more so than any player I can really remember in recent memory, there’s a narrative about him that’s odd and wrong. And I think kind of the whole world over the last week has kind of owned that he’s a really good basketball player.

“The thing he does at a truly elite level, in a funny way is the one thing that every fan and every coach says is the most important thing. Every single day, every single possession, he competes and he’s always ready. And so, it’s kind of funny that that guy, who embodies that ethos, has taken as (much criticism) in the past few months as he has. But I also think … people are going to realize he’s a really good player. And most importantly, he just competes his butt off. Obviously, we really like him. He played like we would expect him to, and we’re really excited to get him back and get him integrated.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Although Turkey wasn’t part of the 2023 World Cup, Turkish center Alperen Sengun suited up for his national team during an Olympic pre-qualifying tournament this summer. The Rockets liked what he saw from the young center at that event, as Feigen relays. “Alpi is on the path we want him to be on. I thought he was moving really, really well,” Stone said. “I thought his decision-making was good. I liked his defensive effort, overall.”
  • Stone said he expects the entire Rockets roster to be healthy for the start of training camp next month, per Feigen (Twitter link). Jock Landale missed the World Cup due to an ankle injury and hasn’t been cleared for 5-on-5 work, but should be soon, per Stone.
  • Prosecutors at Kevin Porter Jr.‘s arraignment in New York City on Tuesday stated that his alleged attack on his girlfriend left her with a fractured neck vertebra and a deep cut above her right eye, according to Michael R. Sisak of The Associated Press. Manhattan’s assistant district attorney Mirah Curzer referred to the incident as a “serious domestic violence case” and indicated that Porter has a history of abusing his girlfriend, former WNBA player Kysre Gondrezick. The Rockets guard, who wasn’t required to enter a plea during Tuesday’s court appearance, was ordered to post $75K in cash or obtain a $100K bond to secure his release.

World Cup Notes: Brooks, Field Size, Olympic Qualifier, Bogdanovic

Dillon Brooks‘ NBA season didn’t end well, as LeBron James and the Lakers dismissed the Grizzlies in the playoffs. The offseason has gone a lot better. Brooks signed a lucrative contract with the Rockets, then he played well enough to earn Best Defensive Player honors at the FIBA World Cup, Sportando tweets.

Brooks, who played for bronze medalist Canada, enjoys his reputation as a villian, according to Aris Barkas of Eurohoops.net.

“It’s just a persona. People love him, I have grown to love him myself. It’s like Kobe created Black Mamba. That’s my persona but only on the court. I love my kids, my family, my teammates,” Brooks said.

We have more tidbits from the World Cup:

  • FIBA is pleased with how an expanded field has led to more parity and unpredictability, according to The Associated Press. FIBA expanded the World Cup field to 32 teams in 2019, while 80 teams took part in the qualification process leading up to 2023’s event. “Parity is good,” FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis said. “It’s good because it means competitiveness. It is excellent if it comes together with a higher level of play all the time. What we have achieved is we have reached a greater depth in the roster of countries. Nine of the 32 that came to this World Cup did not play in the previous World Cup.”
  • FIBA plans to announce the hosts of the four FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments at the end of November, Eurohoops.net relays. Those tournaments, which will determine the last four qualifiers for the Paris Olympics, will be held in early July.
  • Hawks swingman and Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic helped lead his national team to a silver medal for the second time, having accomplished the feat in 2014 as well. He’s hoping to get at least one gold medal before his international career is through, according to George Efkarpides of Eurohoops.net. “I was second once. I’ll be happy to get the gold as well. To finish the tournament with a win,” he said. “Unfortunately, sometimes luck is not on your side. We missed some shots, we missed some opportunities. That’s the game of basketball. That’s how it works.”

Germany Wins Gold Medal, USA Fourth At World Cup

Germany wrapped up an undefeated World Cup by topping Serbia, 83-77, in Sunday’s gold medal game. Team USA, which had been favored to win the gold, left without a medal after falling to Canada in an overtime thriller in the bronze medal contest.

Dennis Schröder led the Germans with 28 points in the finals and Franz Wagner added 19. Germany was able to take down all challengers in the tournament despite playing much of it without Wagner, who suffered a sprained ankle in the opener against Japan.

Schröder was named World Cup MVP (Twitter link) and was joined on the All-Star 5 by Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, USA’s Anthony Edwards, Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic and Slovenia’s Luka Doncic (Twitter link).

Canada’s victory was noteworthy as it marked the nation’s first-ever medal in World Cup competition and only its second win against the U.S. in a senior men’s tournament. The Canadians were led by 31 points and 12 assists from Gilgeous-Alexander and 39 points from Dillon Brooks, who continues to rebuild his reputation following a playoff embarrassment and an unpleasant separation with the Grizzlies in free agency.

“It was so enjoyable. Obviously the hate doesn’t stop, it keeps going,” Brooks told reporters, including Brian Windhorst of ESPN. “It’s hard to battle against the world and a team.”

Before earning their medals, the Canadians had to survive a miracle finish from Team USA that sent the game to overtime. Trailing by four points with 4.2 seconds remaining, Mikal Bridges hit his first free throw and purposely missed the second before chasing down the rebound in the right corner and hitting a spinning three-pointer with 0.6 left on the clock. Bridges, who scored 19 points and battled Gilgeous-Alexander on defense, may be one of the members of the World Cup roster with a strong chance of returning for the Olympics.

However, Canada controlled play in the overtime to capture a 127-118 victory that sent the U.S. home without a medal for the second straight World Cup. The Americans dropped three of their last four games as defense and rebounding became persistent issues.

“We just didn’t defend well enough against Germany (in the semifinals) or against Canada, and that’s the bottom line,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Every year when you try to build a team, you try to build the best two-way team you can and be able to get stops and score, and everybody’s trying to do that.”

Windhorst points out that the Americans have now lost seven combined games over their last three major tournaments, creating a wide open race for the gold at the Paris Olympics next summer. The U.S. may have to reconsider the type of players it wants to invite, although Kerr said USA Basketball officials felt good about the World Cup roster they put together.

“We’ve really studied everything about FIBA and the history of United States basketball when we’ve won, what has been the reason and when we’ve lost what has been the reason,” Kerr said. “So we study all that stuff, and what it comes down to for us in this tournament, we put ourselves in a great position. We got to the semifinals and were right there.”

World Cup Notes: USA-Canada Rivalry, Valanciunas, Latvia

They both fell short of the gold medal game, but Sunday’s meeting between Team USA and Canada could be the beginning of a significant rivalry in international basketball, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The teams will face off for third place as the Canadians hope to win their first-ever World Cup medal and their first in any tournament since the 1936 Olympics.

Both countries have rosters filled with NBA talent, and both had successful runs in the World Cup before slipping in Friday’s semifinals. The U.S. lost to Germany by two points, and Canada fell to Serbia by nine.

“They haven’t won a medal since the 1930s, so they’re coming for us,” Tyrese Haliburton said. “I think both of our countries will expect to see each other for the coming years. So it seems like this is kind of the start.”

Familiarity is part of the storyline as players bring their NBA rivalries into international competition. There are even some ex-teammates involved as Jaren Jackson Jr. will face Dillon Brooks for the first time since Brooks left the Grizzlies in free agency to sign with the Rockets.

“I hope Dillon does talk trash,” Jackson said. “Otherwise it wouldn’t be him. It wouldn’t be real.”

There’s more on the World Cup:

  • Following an All-NBA season, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been one of the biggest stars of the tournament, notes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. The Canadian guard is sixth overall in World Cup scoring at 23.6 PPG and he’s number one in terms of scoring efficiency. “It’s the change of pace, yeah,” Thunder and Canadian teammate Luguentz Dort said. “Also, it’s the way he explodes, the way he can get off the defender to rise for his shot. The way that he handles the ball, the way that he creates for himself. There’s so much more.”
  • Jonas Valanciunas has represented Lithuania in every major tournament since 2011 and he’s not ready to think about stopping, per George Efkarpidis of Eurohoops. The 31-year-old center considers it an important part of his basketball responsibilities. “I feel proud playing for my country,” Valanciunas said. “That is what I can give for my country. This is how I can put my country on the map. I am going to keep doing that (as long as) my body lets me and the team needs me.”
  • Latvia wrapped up the No. 5 spot in its first-ever World Cup, defeating Lithuania by 35 points on Saturday. It’s an impressive statement from a team that played without Kristaps Porzingis, who sat out the tournament to recover from plantar fasciitis, and lost captain Dairis Bertans to an injury, observes Aris Barkas of Eurohoops.

Dillon Brooks Thinks He’s The Best Defender In The World

Rockets forward Dillon Brooks certainly doesn’t lack confidence. Following Canada’s quarterfinal victory over Slovenia at the 2023 World Cup, the veteran wing was asked if he was the best defender at the tournament.

Yeah. This tournament, this world, in the NBA,” Brooks said, per Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. “I feel like I bring a different type of defense with my IQ and how physical I play and how disciplined I am on the floor.”

Brooks earned a spot on the All-Defensive Second Team this past season, his first appearance on an All-League team. As Fischer writes, new head coach Ime Udoka singled out the former Oregon product as a key target for Houston in free agency this summer due to his defensive tenacity.

He (Udoka) knows that I bring a different type of edge to the game,” Brooks told Yahoo Sports. “I have my ups and downs with it. But I can teach young guys. Houston was a great offensive team. They just needed more on the defensive end, stressing priority on the defensive end.”

Describing the Rockets as a “great offensive team” in 2022/23 isn’t exactly accurate — they ranked 27th in the league, only faring better than the Pistons, Spurs and Hornets. However, Brooks is right that Houston needs help on both ends — the team was even worse on defense, finishing 29th in ’22/23 after being dead last two seasons ago.

Long known for being an irritant and a tone-setter for Memphis, the 27-year-old received a lucrative four-year, $86MM+ deal from the Rockets via a complex sign-and-trade. Brooks tells Fischer he’s ready for a leadership role with Houston.

Just having a positive mindset, knowing that it’s gonna be a transition day by day,” Brooks said. “Getting better day by day and finding ways to believe in the details and believe in the little things that get you to where you need to get to, whether it’s playoffs, whether it’s winning the in-season tournament, each game getting better and better.”

In case you missed it, Canada faces Serbia in the first World Cup semifinal early Friday morning. You can vote in our poll for both semifinal match-ups right here.

World Cup Notes: SGA, Brooks, Doncic, F. Wagner

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has separated himself from the field in the race for World Cup MVP, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. The Thunder guard had 31 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday against Slovenia and has been outstanding while leading Canada to its first semifinals appearance in tournament history.

Among those impressed by SGA’s exploits is Canadian star Steve Nash, who served as general manager of the national team and had him on the roster for an Olympic qualifying tournament in 2016. Although Gilgeous-Alexander was just a teenager at the time and barely played, Nash could tell he had the potential to become something special.

“I mean, he’s got it, right?” Nash said. “He has the game, the feel, the understanding of his responsibility in the moment. It’s just a beautiful thing when you have a player like that in your arsenal.”

There’s more on the World Cup:

  • Canadian coach Jordi Fernandez credited Dillon Brooks for his strong defensive effort against Luka Doncic in the win over Slovenia, per Aris Barkas of Eurohoops. The Slovenians were upset by some of Brooks’ tactics before both players were ejected in the fourth quarter, but Fernandez doesn’t mind if Brooks takes the same approach in the semifinals against Serbia. “If they complain, they complain,” he said. “We have to play our game and we have to keep our composure, so we can control what we can control. I think yesterday we did a great job as a team defensively and especially Dillon put on a defensive clinic and it should be in a FIBA museum at some point.”
  • Doncic was upset at not getting more foul calls and made a money-sign gesture toward FIBA officials during the game, but he and Slovenia remain on good terms with the organization, Barkas adds in a separate story. Doncic downplayed the incident in a post-game press conference, according to Barkas, and Slovenian Federation president Matej Erjavec sat with FIBA secretary general Andreas Zaglis for Thursday’s contest against Lithuania.
  • Franz Wagner is confident that German teammate Dennis Schröder will bounce back in Friday’s semifinal meeting with Team USA after shooting 4-of-26 from the field against Latvia, relays George Efkarpidis of Eurohoops. Wagner also discussed the ankle injury that sidelined him for much of the tournament before he returned for the quarterfinals. “We tried to do as much rehab, icing, all that stuff as much as possible, and I think we did a really good job,” Wagner said. “And then the last week or so, I started working out on the court and was able to do a little bit more. I did a bunch of conditioning stuff, too, just so I can play again.”

Team Canada Notes: QF Win, SGA, Brooks, Nurse

In addition to qualifying for the 2024 Olympics, the Canadian men’s national team has earned a spot in the FIBA World Cup semifinals for the first time in the history of the event. However, star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and his teammates aren’t happy to simply leave the Philippines with a spot in the final four.

“It feels good, but we are not satisfied,” Gilgeous-Alexander said after Wednesday’s victory over Slovenia, according to Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops.net. “We didn’t come here only to get to the semifinals, we came here to try to get gold.”

Team Canada will be in tough in the semifinal against a talented Serbian squad that played in the gold medal game in the 2014 World Cup, and would be an underdog against Team USA in a potential final. However, Slovenia’s head coach Aleksander Sekulić is bullish on the club’s chances after seeing his team fall to the Canadians on Wednesday.

“Canada has a hell of a team,” Sekulić said, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “They can play different lineups, small-ball and two bigs. They have big guards, strong guards. They have guys who can create. So they have everything they need to go all the way. I think they can match up with (the) United States.”

Here’s more on Team Canada:

  • Although the Canadians made it past Slovenia in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, head coach Jordi Fernandez chided forward Dillon Brooks after the game for his fourth-quarter ejection. “He has to be better,” Fernandez said, per Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com. “We need him on the court. You can’t get disqualified. We have to have better composure as a team.” The head coach did laud Brooks for playing his role “at a high level” prior to his early exit.
  • Although he’s no longer the head coach of Team Canada, having been replaced by Fernandez when he stepped down earlier this year, Nick Nurse continues to keep a close eye on the club’s performance on the international stage, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “An awesome job by them, so very happy for them,” Nurse said before Wednesday’s semifinal win. “Just in my time, from 2019 to now, it was a big process to get here and I’m just glad to see them realize the vision, the goal, the dream.”
  • Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman shares his takeaways from the Canada/Slovenia game, noting that Gilgeous-Alexander and Luka Doncic entered the World Cup as the consensus top two players in the event and the Thunder guard won their head-to-head battle on Wednesday.

Southwest Notes: Luka, Brooks, Mavs, Whitmore, Branham

Speaking to reporters after Slovenia’s loss to Canada on Wednesday, Mavericks star Luka Doncic claimed that the FIBA officials said they weren’t inclined to give him foul calls due to the way he was arguing with them all night, as Aris Barkas of Eurohoops relays.

“The refs told one of the guys, ‘We’re not going to call a foul on him because he’s coming at us,'” Doncic said. “I know I complain a lot, but I don’t think this is fair. They were playing physically against me, but that’s not fair, to say something like this.”

Both Doncic and Rockets forward Dillon Brooks were ejected from the game with technical fouls in the fourth quarter — Doncic for objecting to a non-call and Brooks for taunting. Brooks was the primary defender on Doncic and guarded him aggressively for much of the game. However, Doncic said his anger wasn’t aimed at Brooks.

“I respect Dillon, he is very physical,” Doncic said. “People may not like him, but I respect him for what he does. And he does that really good.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • The Mavericks will benefit a little financially from JaVale McGee‘s contract with Sacramento, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Dallas will receive $697,340 in “set-off” based on McGee’s new deal, and that amount will spread across the five years he remains on the team’s books, reducing his annual cap hits by $139,468.
  • Rockets rookie Cam Whitmore, the MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League in July, spoke to Kelly Iko of The Athletic about his experience in Vegas and his expectations for his first NBA season. According to Whitmore, his focus when he reports to the team this fall will be on learning his role. “Whatever the coaching staff wants me to do, I’ll do it,” Whitmore said. “If they mention something to me, I’ll make sure it’s taken care of. I’m all ears in training camp.”
  • As he prepares for his second NBA season, Spurs wing Malaki Branham has spent the offseason in gyms in San Antonio, Washington, D.C., and even in Madrid during his first ever trip overseas, part of an NBPA retreat. As Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News writes in a subscriber-only story, Branham is optimistic that the work he has put into improving his game this summer will be readily apparent in the fall. “Even the guys I’ve seen since I’ve been back are like, ‘I see you’ve been in the gym a lot this summer,'” Branham said.