NBA PM: Brooks Putting Off Free Agency?
Wilson Chandler, J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin left the Chinese Basketball Association before the league’s playoffs got underway. Chandler, Smith and Martin returned to the United States in recent months and resumed their NBA careers. However, one notable NBA player remains in China.
Aaron Brooks has led the Guangdong Southern Tigers to the CBA Finals, where his team is facing off against Stephon Marbury and the Beijing Ducks. Guangdong currently trails Beijing, 3-1, but Brooks is having an excellent series, averaging 29.8 points and 4.5 assists.
The 27-year-old point guard is enjoying his time in China, where he is a big star mainly because of his stint with the Houston Rockets. He played alongside Yao Ming for four years and became a fan favorite in Asia. Brooks has a number of endorsements with Chinese companies and is familiar with the country after making several offseason trips to East Asia. Several of his relatives are living with him in China, which helped him adjust to his new surroundings.
While Brooks has had a pleasant experience with Guangdong, his time with the Southern Tigers will put him in a difficult position as he looks to sign his next NBA contract. He is a restricted free agent, but has limited options because of his midseason return. The Phoenix Suns hold Brooks’ rights and are the only team that can sign the point guard this season.
Players can no longer sign an offer sheet with another team since the deadline to do so was on March 1. He can’t be traded because the new collective bargaining agreement prohibits midseason sign-and-trades. The only way that Brooks can sign with a team other than the Suns is if Phoenix renounces his rights, which would make him an unrestricted free agent. However, that is unlikely, especially since the Suns dealt a first-round pick and Goran Dragic to acquire Brooks at last year’s trade deadline.
Lance Blanks, the general manager of the Suns, recently traveled to China to meet with Brooks. He watched a game and spent time with the point guard. While they’ll try to negotiate a multi-year deal when Brooks returns to the United States, it’ll be difficult for the two sides to reach a deal.
The final day of the regular season is April 26, which means Brooks’ camp will only have a few weeks to negotiate with the Suns. Not to mention, Phoenix already has three point guards on their roster – Steve Nash, Sebastian Telfair and Ronnie Price – so it’s unlikely they’ll offer a large contract to Brooks.
It’s more likely that Brooks will sit out the remainder of the 2011-12 season and enter restricted free agency in July. By going through the traditional free agency process, Brooks would have an opportunity to test the market. He could sign an offer sheet with another team such as the Sacramento Kings or Portland Trail Blazers, two franchises that have expressed interest in Brooks for quite some time. This year’s free agent class doesn’t feature too many starting point guards so Brooks could be highly coveted.
Putting off the negotiations until this summer may be the best option for Phoenix as well. Nash, Telfair and Price are all on ending contracts so the Suns can make a decision on Brooks after they know what the future holds for their other point guards. The Suns, who trail the eighth-seeded Rockets by two games, are trying to make a playoff push so adding Brooks and changing the rotation in the final weeks of the season may not be in their best interests.
While Brooks would love to return to the NBA as soon as possible, being patient and waiting until this summer to sign with a team is likely his best option.
Nash Discusses Upcoming Free Agency: On the Dan Patrick Show earlier today, Steve Nash made it clear that he won’t return to the Phoenix Suns if they don’t make an effort to upgrade the roster this summer. Nash didn’t demand a trade from the Suns prior to this year’s trade deadline because he wanted to honor his contract. However, he won’t sign another deal in Phoenix unless the team surrounds him with talent.
“I definitely do want to win,” Nash said. “I’m not going to come back to the Suns if there isn’t an improvement, if they’re not ambitious and they’re not looking to upgrade the roster seriously. I think they are. They’ll have a lot of flexibility in free agency. I’ve been standing pat in many ways so they could do some things this summer. I think they’ll become a definite possibility for me, but I do want to win and I do want to consider all my options so it’ll be interesting to see what happens this summer.”
“It’s going to be interesting this summer,” Nash added. “Being a free agent, I didn’t really want to leave at the deadline. I felt I owed it to my teammates and the Suns organization and the fans. I could possibly be back for sure, but that will be more interesting than the trade deadline.”
When asked if he would like to team up with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, Nash said he would have to consider joining the Heat.
“I would listen. [LeBron James] is phenomenal. I love what they’re doing there. A lot of people don’t like them because they put all that talent together. But they’re professional, they play hard, they play together and their coaching staff has done a great job. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them, and I would definitely listen.”
There’s no question that Nash will have a tough decision to make this summer.
“At this stage in my career, there’s going to be so many options to consider,” Nash said. “It’s going to be an interesting free agent summer. For me in particular, there’s going to be a lot of things to consider.”
Powell Signs in Puerto Rico: After returning from a brief stint in China, Josh Powell has inked another deal overseas. The big man will play the rest of the season in Puerto Rico with Brujos de Guayama, according to sources close to the situation. He will attempt to resume his NBA career next season.
The 29-year-old received interest from a number of NBA teams including the Boston Celtics. However, the Celtics shifted their attention to Ryan Hollins once he was waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Powell spoke with a number of teams, but ultimately decided to finish the season in Puerto Rico.
Powell has played for the Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks. He won two championships during his time with the Lakers. Over the course of his six-year career, Powell has averaged 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds.
NBA Chats: There are three NBA chats today starting with Steve Kyler’s NBA chat at 10:30 a.m. EST. Senior NBA writer Joel Brigham host his weekly NBA chat at 1:30 p.m. EST. Mark Nugent will round out the day with his weekly NBA chat at 6 p.m. EST. You can always find the next chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats.