It’s not easy being Aaron Brooks.
Brooks went from being the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2009-2010 (though admittedly, it was kind of a lazy vote, more of the “he got a lot of minutes and scored more points than he did earlier” variety than the “he completely upgraded his skill set” type, but never mind that) to being an injured, disgruntled starter early this year in Houston. Then Kyle Lowry’s emergence as the bearer of all that is holy made him an injured, disgruntled bench player, and it was pretty clear that both Brooks and the Rockets won’t be happy as long as he’s not a starter, and he won’t be a starter as long as he’s in Houston.
So naturally, Brooks was traded away to a franchise built entirely around the existence of another point guard who is completely incapable of sharing the court with him (something Lowry could at least dream of). Brooks was slightly better with the Suns, but still nowhere near the kind of explosive scorer he was in Houston.
Luckily for him, he’s not sad at all about it. In fact, Phoenix+Aaron Brooks=happy.
“I’m doing great,” he said Saturday shortly before playing in the H206 Charity Basketball Classic, a contest featuring many NBA and ex-NBA players with Seattle ties. “How’s Phoenix? I love Phoenix. I think they like me, too. They picked up my qualifying offer, didn’t they?”
First of all, it’ï»¿s important to note that picking up one’s qualifying offer means fairly little. Usually only players who have already done enough throughout their rookie deals to prove they do not belong in the NBA have their QOs declined, with exceptions usually requiring a guy to be either terrible, a headcase, on a team with serious financial issues (yes, all three of these categories refer to Charlie Villanueva), or a member of the Grizzlies. Brooks may have regressed this year, but he is still a serviceable player, and at 3 million a year he is an asset. Not to mention that, with restricted free agency’s future very much in doubt with the new CBA nowhere in sight, this qualifying offer might be reduced to a bureaucratic footnote in the history of NBA bookkeeping.
That said, Aaron Brooks does sound quite pleased with what is a seemingly a pretty bad situation. Phoenix is a team going absolutely nowhere, with approximately 2 and a half starting caliber NBA players (assuming Marcin Gortat’s post-trade performance wasn’t a fluke and the lockout ends before Grant Hill turns 45), one of which is the franchise player, who plays Brooks’ position. Brooks has an undersized frame and his biggest asset is his quickness. 26 year old doesn’t strike as old, but this is not the sort of player that ages well, even in today’s game and age. This is hardly the sort of pillar on which one rebuilds that which needs rebuilding, and one has to think that Brooks’ ideal team would either trot him out as part of its starting lineup or at least play for something meaningful.
Nevertheless, Brooks sounds happy. And since concerns about actual playing time are mostly contingent on actual playing, the lockout might postpone this Aaron Brooks situation far, far into the future. At that point, Phoenix will have to decide whether they want to keep a player who is too good to be a backup in a backup role, move Nash and have a player who isnâ€™t good enough to rebuild around in a rebuild-around role, or move Brooks for the highest bidder. Until then, that specialÂ Phoenix sunshine should keep Brooksâ€™ face at its normal level of glow.