The Dallas Mavericks entered free agency with several priorities. One of the biggest was acquiring a starting 3-and-D wing who could give this defense a boost after the loss of Dorian Finney-Smith in the Kyrie Irving trade.
Dallas eventually landed its man in former Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams, who signed a four-year, $54 million deal with the Mavs following a sign-and-trade. The general reception to the move has been very positive, but it turns out this wasn't the only target Mark Cuban had in mind.
In fact, Dallas nearly made an $80 million mistake.
Kelly Iko of the Athletic recently reported on how Dillon Brooks netted an $86 million contract from the Houston Rockets this summer. In his piece, Iko said: "To my knowledge, the Dallas Mavericks were said to be seriously in the mix for Brooks’ services."
Given the Mavs' interest, it makes sense why Houston had to make such an aggressive offer to land the former Memphis Grizzlies agitator. What doesn't make sense, however, is why Dallas would pinpoint Brooks as a possible solution to its problems and make a serious run at him.
One of Brooks' hallmarks is his intensity, which, in theory, would add some bite to the Mavericks' defense. Yet, we saw the wing was all bark and no bite in the playoffs. His constant chirping and digs eventually bit Memphis in a big way against the Los Angeles Lakers. Confidence and fire is one thing; trash-talking LeBron James of all people is another.
Brooks became the butt of the joke after he couldn't face the music following his team's playoff exit, which many contributed to him, in part. His play during that series certainly didn't help, either. The Oregon product disappeared in the bright lights, posting a mediocre 10.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG and 1.8 APG while shooting just 23.8% from deep.
This brings to light the bigger issue with Dallas' pursuit of Brooks, aside from his attitude concerns. He regressed significantly during the 2022-23 season, posting his lowest PPG since his injury-shortened 2018-19 campaign. Even more concerning is his struggles shooting the ball, as he posted the worst true shooting mark of his career this past season.
This was all while having multiple opportunities to ball out for Memphis, who was without its top-two scorers in Desmond Bane (injury) and Ja Morant (off-the-court issues and injury) for extended periods of time during the year.
Though Brooks profiles as the prototypical 3-and-D wing, his performance in 2022-23 didn't scream "worthy of a career payday." Throw in the fact that he's also a high-volume shot-chucker (14.8 attempts per game over the last four seasons), and his fit looks even more questionable on this roster.
Thankfully the Mavericks dropped out of the race, which allowed them to nab a much less volatile player in Williams who could thrive in a bigger role. It seems likely Brooks never lives up to his gargantuan deal for the in-state rival Rockets, which makes this outcome a true win-win for the Mavs.
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