Where Dillon Brooks and the Grizzlies go from here

After six years together, the Memphis Grizzlies and Dillon Brooks appear headed for a separation. The forward had a season worthy of All-Defense consideration mixed with bad shooting and behavior that embarrassed the organization. The team decided that the cons outweigh the pros and informed the impending unrestricted free agent that they will not retain him this offseason.

While a team deciding to move on from a player ahead of free agency isn’t new, the reporting of it two whole months ahead of free agency is unprecedented. On one hand, it’s fair for Memphis to be transparent with Brooks about their plans this summer. On the other hand, are they 100 percent sure they can do better than him this offseason? They have the means to sign a replacement, but their best path toward finding a significant upgrade at forward is a sign-and-trade or future trade involving him. This decision this early on could backfire if they’re unsuccessful at acquiring a replacement while alienating Brooks in the process.

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Here is a look at how this decision could impact Brooks in free agency and the Grizzlies’ options for replacing him.

Dillon Brooks impending free agency

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Dillon Brooks is set to become a free agent this offseason and the Grizzlies will hold his full Bird rights. He has been extension-eligible throughout 2022-23 for up to four years, $61.3 million, and has reportedly declined Grizzlies’ offers. He can earn more money in free agency than his maximum extension amount but will remain extension-eligible with the Grizzlies through June 30.

It’s unclear if the Grizzlies offered Brooks his maximum extension amount at any point, but it could be the case considering his potential asking price in free agency. In the Grizzlies offseason preview, we explored the possibility of Brooks re-signing with the Grizzlies for more than his maximum extension amount. They may have more flexibility below the luxury tax this season if Ja Morant doesn’t make an All-NBA team, which could allow them to give Brooks a frontloaded contract like they gave Jaren Jackson Jr.


If the Grizzlies are truly off the table for Brooks then that could hamper his market significantly. And this isn’t just because of the implication of the reporting that the Grizzlies are fed up with him and other teams should beware. If the Grizzlies still valued Brooks, they’d likely make him an offer above what most teams in the league can offer him. With Brooks’ previous team no longer pursuing him, he loses that leverage in negotiations with other teams.

In Brooks’ case, he could be looking at a contract at the non-taxpayer mid-level exception amount. It is set to start at $12.2 million and can run for up to $52.5 million over four years. That total isn’t too far below his current maximum extension amount but significantly lower than the higher ranges that seemed possible a couple of months ago. If he does accept a contract in the mid-level range or lower, a one or two-year deal would make sense.

Brooks’ sudden availability on the market at what could be a team-friendly rate could spark the interest of several playoff teams that probably thought they had no chance of signing him earlier. Teams projected to have the mid-level exception that could use him include the Cavaliers, Kings, Bulls, and Mavericks, to name a few.

Where do the Grizzlies go from here?

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The Grizzlies have been trying to find a long-term answer at the three since this year’s trade deadline. They reportedly were targeting Mikal Bridges and OG Anunoby and offered multiple first-round picks for them. Any such framework likely involved Danny Green, who was eventually swapped for Luke Kennard, or Dillon Brooks as the primary matching salary.

Bridges seems unlikely to get moved after the leap he made following his trade to Brooklyn. Anunoby looked like a prime trade candidate when the Raptors seemed all but sure to be sellers at the deadline but ultimately went the other way. If Toronto were to make him available this summer, the Grizzlies could revisit the possibility.

The tricky part for the Grizzlies in a trade for a player like Anunoby earning just under $20 million is their lack of a matching salary. They could match by trading one of Steven Adams, Tyus Jones, Brandon Clarke, or Luke Kennard, but they’d ideally prefer to keep all four players. Aggregating multiple players on rookie contracts won’t be enough unless they’re comfortable with trading up to four of them.

A sign-and-trade involving Brooks represents their smoothest path toward acquiring a wing upgrade that makes more than that non-taxpayer mid-level exception. In regards to the Anunoby example, the Grizzlies would need to send out $11.1 million in outgoing salaries to match for him in a trade starting in July. That’s $2.5 million less than what they’d currently have to send out in a deal before June 30 thanks to the newly modified trade rules.


A sign-and-trade involving Brooks would require him to get a three-year contract, but only the first year needs to be guaranteed. A sign-and-trade where he earns an $11.4 million starting salary, the same amount he made in 2022-23, would be enough to match salaries for Anunoby. Some other 3-and-D players they could potentially pursue include Dorian Finney-Smith and Lu Dort.

Brooks could actually get up to a $13.7 million salary, the first-year amount in his current allowable maximum extension, in a sign-and-trade before Base Year Compensation caps the incoming salaries Memphis could receive for him. That would allow the Grizzlies to take back up to $21.2 million for Brooks alone in a sign-and-trade this offseason.

If no sign-and-trade opportunities materialize, the Grizzlies will have the $12.2 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception at their disposal to sign or trade for a replacement for Brooks. Some players they could pursue in free agency with it include Josh Hart and Bruce Brown. They would bring a lot of the same skillsets as Brooks but without the baggage.

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype