Aaron Brooks fails to provide spark, not an essential part of Suns' future


Phoenix Suns guard Aaron Brooks drives to the basket past Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Aaron Brooks never clicked with the Suns, so they must not over spend to keep him. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

PHOENIX — When the Phoenix Suns acquired Aaron Brooks, they envisioned the speedy point guard lifting the team into the playoffs with the kind of scoring punch the unit lacked all season.

Instead he never looked quite comfortable in a Suns jersey and failed to make a mark on the team. Now the organization must decide whether he fits into their long-term plan or if they would be better served swallowing hard and losing Goran Dragic and a first-round pick for nothing.

Brooks had his moments but not enough of them as he averaged 9.6 points per game on 43.0 percent shooting. He often played well in games Nash missed but never really carried the bench with his scoring prowess as was originally hoped.

After seemingly finding an answer to their age-old backup point guard issue with Dragic’s emergence in 2009-10, the Suns once again could not play without Nash this season and Brooks was a big reason for that.

According to Basketball Value, the Suns lost 9.15 points per 100 possessions with Brooks on the floor unadjusted and were -4.87 adjusted. Dragic was slightly worse in both categories but both ranked at the bottom of the team thanks to the lack of floor time they shared with Nash.

Efficiency is a big problem for Brooks. He was particularly horrid in Houston this season where his 46.5 true shooting percentage would have ranked him 319th in the league had he shot that bad all year. That’s a big reason why Brooks put up a -0.124 WP48 with the Rockets, according to Nerd Numbers. For those more familiar with traditional stats, Brooks shot less than 35 percent as a Rocket.

Brooks was certainly better in Phoenix as he upped his true shooting percentage to .489 on the season and produced a -0.012 WP48, which is not good but also isn’t quite so bad as his Houston numbers.

Now the Suns must decide if a player of Brooks’ skill set fits their future, and largely that means is this guy the Suns’ point guard of the future?

A season ago Brooks was viewed completely differently after scoring a hair under 20 points a game on his way to earning Most Improved Player honors. But his breakout campaign serves as the best-case scenario for Brooks’ future: a guy who can score bushels of points with middling efficiency if given lots of shots.

We saw that Brooks at times with the Suns. He was superb in Boston on March 2 when he scored 17 points to dig Phoenix out of a big hole and he played well 11 days later against Orlando when he scored 19 points in a game missed by Nash when he was responsible for a large portion of the offense.

When he can shoot himself into a rhythm, find his spots and just go, Aaron Brooks is a very effective scorer.

“He’s had his moments from the standpoint of open-court scoring, and we can see what we can do there, and I think we’ve got to see if he can run our team and be able to put guys in the right spots,” Gentry said.

There’s no question that Aaron Brooks can get his own offense, but he didn’t do enough to get his teammates offense. He struggles to make interior passes due to his height, which also makes him an easy target to be taken advantage of on defense, and on days his shot isn’t falling he’s a major liability.

From here it becomes a question of what kind of dollars/role does Brooks want and think he can get on the open market. When the trade was first made, I questioned the wisdom behind it due to the fact Brooks is likely looking for a big payday and starting job as a restricted free agent this summer (assuming there still are restricted free agents under the new CBA).

I still feel if a team makes him a sizable offer, say anything over $4-5 million a year, I let him go. Consider him a sunk cost, forget about Dragic and the pick and move on.

But if he’s willing to play that backup point guard role and make a backup point guard salary, I’d be willing to see if the Aaron Brooks experience can work in Phoenix. He does excel in a transition game and in theory is the type of player that can ignite a bench.

Gentry has said many times that he would like to see what Brooks can do with a full training camp rather than being thrown in the fire immediately after the trade was consummated.

If the market isn’t there for Brooks, perhaps he would consider coming back to the Suns on a one-year deal at a lower price to rebuild his value in Phoenix’s up-tempo system. Such a deal would be smart for the Suns as he would immediately become attractive trade bait as well with a couple solid months.

If that’s not the case, Phoenix should just chalk up the Brooks deal as a loss rather than trying to make him their point guard of the future.

The Suns already made one mistake by trading for Brooks and they cannot compound it by overpaying him, which would be a crucial error for a team already paying too much future money to a squad of role players.

Tags: Aaron Brooks

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    He simply is not the answer.

    Seems like everybody and their mother has the Suns picking Jimmer in the first round and if the feeling is even 1/3 as strong in the Suns’ front office then Brooks has to go.

    It’s not like there isn’t already a backup on the team. Dowdell performs just fine and he plays far better defense than Brooks does while being more of a distributor.

    It was a stupid move in the first place. No need to continue stabbing yourself in the leg when you can simply pull the dagger out and throw it away.

  • Nba critic

    Fredette = Brooks?

  • Steve

    I just remember when the KTAR guys blasted me for saying the Brooks acquisition was a mistake. I wonder what they’d say about it now.

    I don’t think Jimmer should have anything to do with whether or not we get rid of Brooks. I just want him gone. He’s an 8th or 9th guy in a rotation, in my opinion. He would be a great spark for an elite team such as Miami or LA (teams that really need somebody to provide offense in 4-minute bursts while superstars are sitting). But the Suns aren’t elite. We don’t have the luxury of being able to weather Brooks’ bad nights. He doesn’t fit with us. Get him out.

  • Gary

    “The beatings will continue until moral improves”

    Seriously, let me lay it out for you

    The Suns owner wants to make money, he can do that by having the team fail, getting high draft picks and then trading them away for money at the first opportunity

    It is easy and it will return the most money possible to the owner

    Please do not blame the players for the debacle that the Suns are about to become

  • Steve

    Owners make more money by putting a good product out there than they do by selling picks and getting into the cellar. Sarver knows that, which is why his Suns teams have been among the NBA leaders in wins during his tenure.

    Btw, Sarver has always been at or above league average (often into the luxury tax). He’s not really that cheap. I don’t get why people keep saying this. He pulled the trigger on the Shaq deal (the highest-paid player in basketball) for goodness’ sake.

    Is he smart (in terms of basketball)? That’s a different story. But he isn’t cheap.

  • Tony

    The Brooks trade epitomized the idiocy of the Suns front office management. Both Babby and Blanks want the Suns to improve defensively, for good reason, but then they trade away a very good perimeter defender in Dragic for an under-sized guy that can’t guard anyone. Furthermore, Brooks contract situation should have been a reason not to trade for him. If he played really well for the Suns, then the Suns front office would probably be forced to overpay him to stay. As it is now, with Brooks playing so poorly for the Suns, Brooks probably won’t get a great offer to leave, but even if it’s a decent offer, the Suns basically have to overpay him to save face. Otherwise, it will mean they gave up Dragic and the draft pick for nothing.

  • Tony

    Steve,

    the success Sarver has had as a Suns owner has principally been the result of moves made by his predecessor in Colangelo. Nash, Amare, JJ, and Marion were all JC’s moves not Sarver’s. Sarver has ridden high on the Colangelo’s coattails for too long.

  • Steve

    As much as I appreciate Jerry for what he has done for Phoenix, he’s not the greatest sports executive in the world. He got the D-Backs into $150M worth of debt, and only one of those guys you mentioned were actually his moves (and it’s quite a stretch to say signing Joe Johnson for about $1.7M per year was a tough call for an owner).

    Nash, Amare, and Marion were all draft picks. Owners are hardly influential in the acquisition of draft talent. Giving Colangelo credit for those acquisitions is pretty far-fetched. Amare’s extension was put in place by Sarver, if I remember correctly. Nash might have actually been a Sarver pick-up, too, as I believe Sarver bought the team in 2004 (same year Nash got here). If my memory serves me correctly, Sarver had already purchased the team, but Jerry was the negotiator for the Nash deal. It was Sarver’s money that brought Two-Time here again.

    I like Colangelo more than Sarver (though I still think both are poor basketball owners), but the VAST majority of Sarver hate is misplaced.

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    I was down on Dragic when the deal was made, so I applauded the move.

    Now, I wish the Suns would have kept Dragic instead. As they say on the Doug and Wolf morning show, “I need to recant!”

  • GoSuns

    I think its way to early to tell if Brooks “fits” or not he wasn’t put in an ideal situation in which many key signings are. Marcin had plenty of time to learn our system and earn the trust of the coach to gain more minutes and show the world he can ball but brooks hasn’t quite had that opportunity. Intill the new cba goes down, theres no telling what we’ll do but I think we strongly need to consider keeping him. Overpaying shouldn’t be an option because if no other team wants him then we should pay him around the same salary he had. However the organization can’t keep pulling off mistakes and holding no accountability, if you make one realize and move on if we keep nash after the new cba i say we should sing a free agent big man, draft a 2/3 guard or foward and resign brooks for a reasonable contract

  • Keith

    I agree with this article. He might be worth keeping, depending on the price. I also agree with Steve. Well said. And Colangelo ain’t exactly killing it in Toronto.

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    I thought Sarver was an okay, but not a great owner. In other words, I could tolerate him.

    Then he stuck his nose right into the 1070 immigration issue (which he shouldn’t have touched with a ten foot pole) and it made me disgusted.

    When an owner does something that stupid (alienate half of his fan base) it turns a majority of the fans off.

    A classy ownership example would be the old O’Malley Dodgers. Walter and Peter O’Malley would just stick with baseball. The Diamondbacks and Cards should be complimented for doing the same.

    If Sarver continues getting into the political game we will quit going to Suns games. By the way, there are seven in our family that attend Suns games.

    Yes, I love following following current events and politics, but, it is very, very un-professional for a sports owner to comment publically on such. What a turn off!

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    Last add Sarver:

    For a sports owner to give free tickets to our troops; a good thing. A person can be for or against the war and still appreciate our soldiers fighting for our rights to have a conservative or a liberal viewpoint. (A person can be a liberal or a conservative and admire what Pat Tillman did for our country!)

    For the Suns to wear “Los Suns” in honor of Cinco De Mayo or our Mexican friends; great stuff!

    For the Suns to wear “Los Suns” and attach immigration bill 1070 to it; it sucks. (If a person is for the immigration bill 1070 or against it, is not the issue here. For an owner to make his position public and stick it on the front of his team jersey is un-porfessional and cheapens the organization.)

    The stench of Sarver choosing to enter the Suns into the politcal fray of hot button issues is worse than sitting in the midst of 100 pooping cows!

  • Cam

    On another note. Has Houston picked up the option for Dragic. If not I wonder if the Suns management would consider bringing him back on a one or two year contract? Probably not because it would mean admitting they made a mistake. Oh well. Go Suns.

  • pippy

    Hello world, i’m new to the suns fan base and feel like we can go far. I look forward to getting to know you guys. Brooks could become a good role player if nothing else.

  • Phx suns fan in la

    Hey I know this has nothing to do with brooks but yea lol… Ima huge nash fan and I always have been but im thinking the suns should start to rebuild..maybe a trade with the t wolves…..nash and lopez and our 13th pick for jonny flynn michael beasley and the t wolves 2nd pick….with that 2nd pick we might have a chance to get derrick williams or kemba walker?

  • Steve

    I would love to get Williams in a Suns jersey, but it’s not going to happen. If Minny wants to keep Love, they’re going to need to change it up from what they’ve got now. Getting rid of Beasley would be a start, but if they get rid of him, they would have a great need for Williams. We might be able to get one or the other, but we definitley aren’t going to get Beasley AND the 2nd pick.

  • Cam

    @Steve,
    I wonder if we could swing a trade for Beasley, Johnny Flynn, and Minny’s 20th pick or a 1st rounder next year. Now that Rubio is coming to town they need to dump Flynn and with Williams possibly coming they sound like they want to move Beasley. Maybe we could package Lopez together with another piece to get those players. Minny has been looking for a center, and Lopez is still young. Flynn could have a chance to learn behind Nash and if we could get a combo SG/SF in the draft, we could move Beasley to PF. We rebuild on the fly without losing Nash. Worse case scenario Beasley and Flynn don’t work out and we carry their contracts for this year (Beasley) and for another year after that (Flynn). Best case scenario Flynn becomes a strong PG for the future and if we can’t keep Beasley we trade his expiring contract for something later in the season. Go Suns.

  • Steve

    I’d be stoked if that deal goes down. I don’t like Beasley as a character guy or a basketball mind, but you can’t deny the man’s natural talent. Inject some brains in that head, and Beasley could be an absolute beast. Flynn looks promising as well, but I admittedly haven’t seen too much of him.

  • Ryan

    Minny is a possiblity and Khan has proven to be inept(not sure the Suns are any more so, esp with the topic of this article). I would like to the see the Suns look to facilitating Utah’s rebuilding. Depending on the CBA Suns could save Utah a bunch with Vince Carter. Involve Atlanta(who’s clearly in win now mode) in a three way deal Suns get Josh Smith and Raja Bell. For Utah VC, Lopez, Hinrich and Suns 13th pick. Atl gets Al Jefferson, (they want a center for Josh Smith, so Horford can move to PF) and Devin Harris. Probably wishful thinking on my part, Suns will probably trade Nash for pennies on the dollar, and include the tax of either Childress or Warrick.

  • Cam

    @Ryan,
    I would rather get Paul Millsap over Josh Smith. I’ve heard rumors of Smith being a little primadonna. I don’t know if he would fit in the team over self mentality that the Suns have. I think Millsap would better fit the Suns. I think he has a better outside shot and has shown he can take over a game when needed. Just look at the tape of last years Utah vs. Miami game. Maybe the Suns could get Utah to bite on a trade involving Pietrus (player option final year with some defense) and something else. I don’t know. Just a hope and a prayer.

  • Ryan

    No doubt I’d be just fine with a Millsap trade. Suns pick and Pietrus? I do think however Smith is still the better fit. Outside shooting isn’t a worry when the Suns have Fry and Dudley as spacers. Smith’s never played with an elite pg, and on the defensive side of the ball Smith is a big upgrade. Like I said though, no problem with Millsap…maybe the Suns could shoot for the stars and work a deal where they get Millsap, and use Carter and some pieces to get Iguadala….I would say amen to that hope and prayer.