Dillon Brooks has been fined $25,000 for a "failure to participate in team postgame media availability" during the Memphis Grizzlies first-round loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the NBA announced on Sunday.
That's a formal way of saying Brooks wimped out of multiple mandatory media sessions following some of the Grizzlies' losses in the series, opting to duck all the smoke he was blowing after Memphis tied the series following Game 2. You'll recall that Brooks infamously dismissed LeBron James as "old" and proudly announced himself as a professional bear-poker who only respects guys who score 40 points on him.
Last Friday, the Lakers hammered the Grizzlies in Game 6 -- by 40, ironically -- in a 125-85 rout that sent Los Angeles to the second round and Memphis into the offseason.
Here's a clue for Brooks: Nobody, not on single person in the NBA, and I would venture that this includes his own teammates, cares about having his respect. He's not Draymond Green, despite his obvious desire to be regarded in that kind of light.
There's no accountability, and certainly no championship tradeoff for his antics. There's no substance to his words. He just talks, then goes out and averages 10 points on 31% shooting, including 23% from 3, for the series against the Lakers, who spent the entirety of the series flat out ignoring him like the largely irrelevant player he's in danger of becoming.
Brooks has always been something of a clown, but for a while there was something to the charades. You could at least respect his on-ball defense, and there were times when he could hurt you as a shooter, his delusional shot selection notwithstanding. He was a real part of a top-three Grizzlies defense.
But the foolishness during this series utterly exposed him. He's not worth what he costs. This comes at a bad time for Brooks, who enters free agency this summer looking for a big contract with his value in the proverbial gutter. Who wants anything to do with dealing with the childish behavior of a guy whom for the season, gave you 14 points on 32% 3-point shooting?
First off, do the Grizzlies want him back, particularly in the new, more punitive financial climate that will tighten every team's belt? Consider this:
While the [new CBA] didn't explicitly create rules to prevent teams from retaining their own players, it did add a second luxury tax apron that inflicts enormous penalties on the league's biggest spenders. Teams that cross that line will lose flexibility in free agency, pay higher tax rates, face severely restrictive salary matching rules on trades, and in some cases, even see their first-round pick drop to the bottom of the round. The days of handing out extensions first and asking questions later are gone. The NBA is about to enter a new period of fiscal responsibility.
The timing is less than ideal for a Grizzlies team that is about to get pricey. Ja Morant's max rookie extension kicks in after the season, and Desmond Bane will be eligible for a similar deal this offseason that will begin during the 2024-25 campaign. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke have also been locked into long-term deals, and Steven Adams, Tyus Jones and Luke Kennard are all set to earn eight figures next season. As it stands, they currently sit around $25 million below the projected tax line for next season.
That figure does not include a new deal for Brooks, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Memphis can easily afford to re-sign him and still duck below next year's tax line, but once Bane's expected new deal kicks in a year later, keeping Brooks would surely push the Grizzlies deep into the tax. Memphis has already shed De'Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson in service of their future finances.
If the Grizzlies punt on their own guy, who's going to pony up? Brooks is an NBA player. His defense is worth a decent deal, but my guess is that he has cost himself a lot of money over the past few weeks. Potentially tens of millions.
Brooks' last contract from Memphis was $35 million over three years, in the $12 million annual range. That's a non-taxpayer mid-level exception number, and it feels like Brooks is now that kind of player, at best, when there was a time when it was not entirely unreasonable to think he could've fetched something close to $20 million annually.
Do the math on that over two or three years. That's potentially a $25 million loss over the life of a deal, and that's if he gets the $12-13 million MLE number. I could see him getting even less than that. The perception of him has taken an extreme turn for the worse over these past few weeks, and he did it to himself.