Does signing Dillon Brooks make sense for the Chicago Bulls?

Dillon Brooks, Chicago Bulls, 2023 NBA Free Agency (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Dillon Brooks, Chicago Bulls, 2023 NBA Free Agency (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Now that the Chicago Bulls season has come to an end but the NBA offseason has not quite swung around just yet, we find ourselves in a state of purgatory considering potential options for the team this summer. Although this is not one I expected to garner discussion, one player in particular has been the subject of much debate after being released from his prior team. The player in question, of course, is none other than Dillon Brooks.

After losing in six games to Los Angeles, Memphis was left scrambling to answer for this disappointing conclusion to their season as the second-seeded team in the West. Overcoming several hurdles of their own making, the Grizzlies still managed to post an impressive 51-31 record and look primed to make a run this postseason before running into the brick wall of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

It hasn’t taken the Grizzlies long to find their scapegoat, however, as Brooks will reportedly not be brought back for next season “under any circumstances”.

This move is understandable, considering Brooks’ presence was detrimental during the regular season and outright disastrous in the postseason. Not only was he the worst player on the court every time he was on it — a claim both his net rating and my own two eyes will support — but his actions wrought more negative publicity on a team that was desperate to put it all behind them.

Still, it’s impossible to ignore the impact Brooks’ All-Defensive caliber talent could make for another team in the right role. If a team could get him to control his offensive impulses and low IQ shot selection, he’d make for a phenomenal role player on a team-friendly contract or possibly even the veteran minimum. His perceived value has never been lower, which means Brooks will almost certainly have to take a short-term prove-it deal to rebuild his image in the NBA.

This fact has quite a few Bulls fans intrigued about the idea of potentially adding Brooks to the team. This roster has lacked a mental edge on relies heavily on its perimeter defense to compensate for Nikola Vucevic in the post, so I definitely understand why signing Brooks is gaining a bit of traction amongst the fanbase.

Last week, Pippen Ain’t Easy’s own Sean Carroll broke down potential routes the Bulls could take to acquire Brooks, and ultimately advocated for the team to pull the trigger. He’s not alone in that, as several Chicago Bulls writers and media members have taken to Twitter to express their support, such as CHGO’s Will Gottlieb.

Signing Dillon Brooks to the Chicago Bulls would be Arturas Karnisovas’ most unforgivable mistake yet.

Although I’m liable to agree that the Bulls are in need of a little more mental toughness and edge in the locker room, I don’t agree that adding a player with a bad attitude is going to be the cure for this ailment. Memphis gave Brooks free rein to lead their locker room and become the spirit of the team this season, and by year’s end, they were kicking him to the curb for those same reasons. If he signs with a team, it needs to be one that already has a clear leader and locker room hierarchy, not a team desperately searching for its identity.

Entering the offseason, the Chicago Bulls’ two greatest needs are quite clear: shooting and rebounding. Although the defense could certainly stand to improve as well, Billy Donovan has gotten a lot more than expected out of these guys, achieving the league’s 5th-best defensive rating. Despite his 6-foot-7, 225-pound frame, he’s averaged a meager 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting 32.1% from deep over the last two seasons; Brooks excels at neither of those things.

Besides, even if Brooks was an excellent three-point shooter that could stretch the floor, he made it clear in his exit interview that this was not the role best suited for him. “I was just there to three-and-D, shoot and play defense,” says Brooks, “I got way more to my game than that.”

This displays a fundamental lack of awareness on Brooks’ behalf. In an efficiency-dominated era of basketball, no contender can allow Brooks to play the role he desires without suffering swift and irreversible repercussions. We saw that with Memphis firsthand this postseason, as the Lakers intentionally left Dillon wide-open on the perimeter, as he clanged his team to a prompt first-round elimination by shooting a horrendous 24-for-77 (31.2%) from the field and 10-for-42 (23.8%) from beyond the arc.

Despite his claims to the contrary, Brooks already had a big role in the Grizzlies’ offensive scheme, and he was horrible. Brooks took the second most shots of any Grizzlies player this season, behind only Ja Morant himself, even though the vast majority of said shots were bad looks. Of all Grizzlies players to log even just 300 minutes this season, Brooks had by far the team’s worst true shooting percentage at 49.4%. Whenever he touched the ball, bad things happened.

The Bulls could definitely use a great 3-and-D player, it would solve many of this team’s issues if Chicago employed a more balanced starting five. What would most certainly not help, however, is adding one of the league’s worst offensive players when he feels like he has something to prove. Asking Dillon Brooks to be that guy for you, is asking for trouble. The Chicago Bulls should stay far away from him this summer, and I truly don’t believe this should be a controversial decision in the slightest.

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