NBA Saturday: Brooks Headed Back to Houston
Three years ago, Brooks was a Houston Rocket, and once he clears waivers after being cut loose by the Sacramento Kings on Friday, he will be a Houston Rocket once again, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.
It was a rather quick falling out with the Kings, who only got Brooks on the floor for about 21 minutes per game, but he’d been more or less out of the rotation for several weeks as Isaiah Thomas exploded and Jimmer Fredette earned more minutes at the point.
Brooks signed a two-year, $6.6 million deal with the Kings in the offseason after getting landlocked in China during the lockout-shortened season, but things simply did not work out with the Kings, who have been a discombobulated mess all season long. The roster is steeped in talent, but the mix has been an odd one all season long. Plus, with so many reasonably talented players on the payroll, it’s been challenging to find minutes for guys that arguably deserve them.
Just ask Thomas Robinson how things worked out for him there as a promising player buried in the rotation. Of course, Robinson is now a member of the Rockets, as well, which means he and Francisco Garcia and Brooks will reunite on what should be a pretty good young playoff team. Considering Brooks had the best season of his career with the Rockets in 2009-2010, in which he scored 19.6 ppg and dished out 5.3 apg, he’s probably very excited to get back to the team that drafted him in 2007.
He will back up Jeremy Lin at point guard and probably hop ahead of Patrick Beverly on the depth chart, but whatever minutes he gets, Brooks will be happy just to be a participating member of an NBA team again. He played only 44 total minutes in February and has appeared in only six games since January 23rd.
This move was a welcome one, and since the buyout was finalized before the March 1st midnight deadline, Brooks is eligible to play in the postseason. The Kings weren’t using him, the Rockets needed some depth at point guard, and Brooks just wanted to play. This is the kind of buyout where everybody wins.
Other Buyout and Free Agency Tidbits
It wasn’t as crazy a buyout season as we’ve seen in years past, but there were a number of players hoping to see their deal bought out before Friday night’s midnight deadline. When the dust settled, however, Brooks was the only “major” name cut loose. There were a couple of other players that got close to being given a second shot this season, but at the last minute things just didn’t pan out for either.
The first was Cleveland Cavaliers forward Omri Casspi, who frankly hasn’t been much of a contributor in Cleveland despite their desperate need for help on the wing. A buyout for him would have made sense, but only if he could’ve found another team, and according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the only team showing any sort of interest was the Houston Rockets. The Houston Rockets, of course, felt there was more value in Brooks, which left Casspi with very few options after getting bought out, so he passed on the opportunity and will remain with Cleveland the rest of the year. If he is tendered a qualifying offer, Casspi would be a restricted free agent this offseason.
Other than Casspi and Brooks, the only potential buyout that came down to the wire was Utah’s Raja Bell. Rumors had been persistent that the L.A. Lakers were interested in adding the 36-year-old guard, but at the end of the day they appear to have balked at adding to what is already the biggest payroll in the league by a wide margin, according to TNT’s David Aldridge .
Utah was only offering a minimum buyout, which may have had something to do with Bell staying put, because at that point in his career it would’ve been silly to turn down a $3.48 million contract without having something else lined up behind it. He did not, which is why Bell will finish the year with the Jazz.
And while Juwan Howard wasn’t a buyout (the 40-year-old free agent hasn’t played all year), the Miami HEAT are considering him as someone that could help them in their quest to repeat as NBA champions. According to Wojnarowski, Howard has stayed in playing shape all season in the hopes that something like this would happen, and with Dexter Pittman getting moved to Memphis at the deadline for a trade exception, the roster spot has now officially opened up for Howard’s return.
He didn’t play much for the HEAT last year, but he was an important veteran voice in the locker room, which is how he earned his first championship ring with Miami in 2012. He’d surely be down for making another run at it in 2013.
Finally, free-agent and former Minnesota Timberwolves big man Louis Amundson will sign a 10-day contract with the Chicago Bulls, according to ESPNChicago.com. According to his agent, Mark Bartelstein, a number of teams were interested in signing Amundson for the remainder of the season, but the opportunity to win in Chicago motivated him to take on a much riskier deal there. With Taj Gibson out at least a couple more weeks with a sprained MCL, Amundson should immediately pick up some minutes in the Bulls’ rotation.
What’s Next for Bynum and the Sixers?
Andrew Bynum has been saying for quite a while now that he’d like to make his return to the Philadelphia 76ers sometime soon, and over the course of the last week he has even gone so far as to participate in practices for the first time since being traded to the Sixers in the offseason. After Friday’s practice, however, Bynum experienced swelling and pain in his knee, and started saying the sorts of things fans have been afraid he’d say all season long:
“Now it’s getting a little late, so I really don’t know,” Bynum told John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday. “I played one scrimmage and [I have] a four-to-dive-day setback… I still think I can play, but like I said, the season is short.”
That sounds an awful lot like defeatist talk, and it didn’t take long after those statements for Mitchell to report that the 76ers and Bynum were considering arthroscopic knee surgery to clean out the loose cartilage causing him all the pain. Such a procedure would more than likely remove any possibility of Bynum playing for Philadelphia this season.
That’s not good news, particularly as the Sixers continue to free-fall out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They’ve lost eight of their last ten games and currently sit six games back of the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth playoff seed in the East, so now would be an excellent time to get back the player Philadelphia thought would rejuvenate the organization. Instead, it’s looking more and more like he’ll miss the entire season, which is what some people within the organization have been worried would happen since the fall.
Watching Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes struggle while Nikola Vucevic, who was shipped off to Orlando as a toss-in in the Bynum deal, continues to emerge as one of the league’s top rebounders hasn’t been an easy thing for Philly fans to watch. This season, Vucevic is averaging 11.4 rebounds per game, good for fourth in the entire league, while Bynum has gotten more run out of his street clothes than any other season in his career.
This all leads to the question of whether or not Philadelphia will pony up the max bucks necessary to re-sign Bynum, a free agent, in the offseason. It would almost be worth it to just bank the cap space, but it likely won’t matter much for Bynum. If Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez were worth a max deal last summer, Bynum certainly will be this summer, even with his injury history. Whether it’s Philly or someone else ponying up has yet to be seen, but despite everything, this is still a talented 25-year-old on the verge of getting paid. Philadelphia, of course, could lose him for nothing should they decide he’s simply not worth investing that much money in, but sometimes it’s just better to cut ties and count your losses.
It’s all very painful for the Sixers, who have sorely missed not only Bynum, but more recently Thaddeus Young. They’d love to find a way to turn things around, but should their major offseason acquisition call it a year without ever having thrown on a jersey, the present and future would start to look very grim. And all that isn’t even taking into consideration where Doug Collins’ head may be right now as a struggling coach. We know where that storyline has gone in his last few stops.
It just makes you wonder how things might have panned out for the Sixers had they just held onto Vucevic and Andre Iguodala, doesn’t it?