The Memphis Grizzlies have informed pending unrestricted free agent Dillon Brooks that he will not be brought back under any circumstances, league sources tell The Athletic.
After his tumultuous end to the season, Brooks was told about the Grizzlies’ decision to move on in exit meetings with team officials in recent days, those sources said. Memphis and Brooks discussed in exit meetings that it’s best for both sides to have a fresh start, sources added.
Brooks’ first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers was considered to be a breaking point. In the span of the Grizzlies’ series loss in six games, he called LeBron James, the Lakers’ best player and a four-time NBA champion, “old,” “tired,” and suggested he was not as good as he used to be. Brooks punched James in the groin area in Game 3, earning an ejection. He missed a defensive assignment to help on James on the game-tying basket in Game 4, and then gave up a critical basket to James in overtime of that loss. Brooks also chose not to speak to the media after three of the losses in the series, resulting in a $25,000 fine by the NBA.
The Lakers also left Brooks open during the series and dared him to shoot, using the extra defender to keep All-Star Ja Morant from driving or to blitz Desmond Bane on the perimeter. Brooks shot 31.2 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from 3-point land in the series while averaging 10.5 points and shooting nearly 13 shots per game.
Brooks, 27, a second-round pick out of Oregon in 2017, has spent his entire six-year NBA career with the Grizzlies. He is the Grizzlies’ longest-tenured player, establishing himself as a three-and-D wing who could serve as a starter for some teams. He has often been considered part of their heart and soul, as a fiery, gritty defender not afraid to say what’s on his mind.
Brooks also earned a suspension for striking Gary Payton II in the head in the playoffs last year, causing him to be suspended for a game against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals. Brooks also hit Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell in the groin this season, which started a fight against Cleveland.
Memphis did make contract extension offers to Brooks early in the season, which were rejected and led to the end of talks, sources said.
Grizzlies executive vice president of basketball operations Zach Kleiman told reporters on Sunday that the franchise will be “very aggressive” in the offseason. Memphis has up to five first-round picks and up to three draft swaps to utilize in prospective trades.