The possibility of dealing Dillon Brooks

There are a lot of intriguing trade possibilities for the Memphis Grizzlies this offseason, and I’ll dive into them more over the next week and a half, but let’s start with Dillon Brooks.

Brooks is the most polarizing Grizzly. He’s everybody’s favorite trade target, especially after a forgettable postseason – with a valley of a Game 4 against the Warriors. There’s a bit of bias with how the fallout of the trade with Jonas Valanciunas last season, as the veteran’s departure led to individual breakouts from Morant and Bane, and to a huge leap for the team. The common thought process with a Brooks trade is, why can’t they replicate that recipe with Ziaire Williams waiting in the wings.

GBB Senior Staff Writer Nathan Chester illustrated the downsides of trading Dillon Brooks quite well for the blog a couple weeks ago, so I don’t want to get too deep into it. With trading Brooks, there are different elements to consider. The Grizzlies need a good answer for the team’s perimeter defense, besides just giving Ziaire Williams a larger role. Williams has the tools to be a great individual defender, but Brooks is already one of the best in the league as a perimeter stopper – while also possessing the range to guard many of the dynamic stars loaded in the Western Conference. If the Grizzlies trade Brooks, they need a perimeter defender that’s already as good as, or better than, Brooks — not one that could possibly defend as well as him.

Secondly, there needs to be a legitimate upgrade on the wing, and it’s hard to do so from Brooks. There aren’t many available wings better than Dillon Brooks. OG Anunoby is a name out there, and former Site Manager Joe Mullinax put together a trade I’m selling myself on more and more each day.

But at the same time, are we sure Toronto will want Dillon Brooks and picks, instead of the 7th pick or Rudy Gobert? Are we sure OG (or Klutch Sports Agency) wants a lateral move in the pecking order? Doesn’t being the 2nd option next to Damian Lillard or Donovan Mitchell sound more enticing? It’s more likely Anunoby goes to Utah or Portland.

The same questions follow with Jerami Grant, who’s emerged as a popular trade target around the league. Portland and Atlanta are the primary suitors there, with Memphis hanging on as a lingering one. Would Detroit prefer Dillon Brooks and picks, the 7th pick, or whatever Atlanta can offer around their 16th pick? In addition, will Grant be more inclined for a 2nd option role in Portland or Atlanta, or a 3rd or 4th in Memphis? Recent patterns suggest the former.

Gordon Hayward is another name out in the rumor mill, as Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported on the Dunc’d On Podcast that the veteran swingman is ready to move to a team in more of a winning situation than the Hornets, and Charlotte may look to find a new home for him since they need to open up space to pay Miles Bridges. However, the difference between his offense and Brooks’ offense doesn’t justify the defensive drop-off that’d occur from this swap – even if the Grizzlies moved up to the 13th or 15th picks.

If the Grizzlies want to make Ziaire Williams the starting 3, a Kuzma and Brooks swap could be something to look for. Washington has had interest in Brooks dating back to last offseason. I wonder if Brooks, the 22nd pick, and the Warriors 2024 pick are enough to acquire Kuzma and the 10th pick.

Regardless, the idea of trading Dillon Brooks is tricky. He has proven to be the “spirit leader” and the “head of the snake” for the Memphis Grizzlies, as stated by his coach and his teammates. Brooks is a really good 3-and-D wing that has impacted winning for the Grizzlies – led the team in on/off point differential the past two seasons, per Cleaning the Glass. Defensive stoppers like him are necessary to hang in a Western Conference loaded with perimeter talent.

On the flip side, like Jonas Valanciunas, both sides may just need to move on to fully become the optimized version of themselves. Brooks does take a lot of shots, and it can be challenging to reel in a player whose role has been to create offense since the moment he set foot in Memphis. It may be easy to buy him into reeling it back, with the prospects of winning of a championship serving as the mission. Or, it’s best for them to move on.

Who knows, it could go either way.

The Grizzlies shouldn’t just give him up without clearly improving their wing rotation, and I’m unsure if there’s that player in the trade market right now. Nonetheless, the possibility of dealing Dillon Brooks is as real as it’s ever been.

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