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.