Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Brooks’

Kings’ Brooks Finds His Comfort Zone

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – This was the kind of game that made Aaron Brooks feel especially back home.

Not hometown home. That’s Seattle.

But NBA home. Back where he fits.

It was Kings 131, Warriors 127 – in regulation. It was a back-and-forth Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena made for a jet point guard. It was Sacramento going 11-for-19 on 3-pointers as Brooks went 9-for-12 and hit all three of his 3-pointers en route to a season-high 23 points to help key the upset.

It was definitely more like it.

The season so far has been a difficult adjustment for Brooks in the move to a new team and a new/old league. He spent last season in China, taking a deal there rather than waiting for the lockout to end and the uncertainty of being a restricted free agent. He came back to the NBA with the Kings, only to open 2012-13 as the backup to Isaiah Thomas. Brooks eventually became the starter, but has yet to provide the dependable point guard play Sacramento desperately needs.

That’s what made Wednesday so valuable. While it may have been one game in the ongoing transition back to playing in the United States — so ongoing that he said it may still be a while before his body re-acclimates to the speed and athleticism of the NBA, and certainly just one game for his last-place team — this was Brooks seeming in his element again.

“It’s a whole different game,” he said. “I’m still developing into this NBA game again. But I’m happy. Every day I’m trying to get better.”

Playing in China was, he says with ultimate diplomacy, a “good time” but “trying.” He was far away from family, unable to get out of the contract when the lockout ended and trying to play his game in a league where physical play was more permitted. He was in a basketball world where people could make it harder on American players.

“No comment on that,” Brooks said, and then he laughed. Which definitely was a comment.

“I was able to relax over there on defense and just focus on offense,” he said of another difference. “But here, people are coming at you.”

The 2009-10 winner of the Most Improved Player Award is trying to adjust back to what once was the only thing he knew. The opening quarter of the season has had some encouraging moments, but also signs it is still a work in progress and the Kings are not as settled at point guard as they would have hoped. The open court of Wednesday helped. It seemed very right again.

Hot Streak Increases Evans’ Value

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – It turned personal at the strangest of times, with a couple minutes remaining between two lottery-bound teams and about 10,000 people, if that, watching on a rainy night.

Tyreke Evans heard someone on the Raptors bench – he thinks injured forward Landry Fields – shout “Hell no!” as Evans lined up a three-pointer in a tight game Wednesday.

Evans connected from a few feet away from the visitors and gave a long, punctuating stare.

Next Kings possession, same thing. He heard “Leave him open!” as the Raptors did just that, backing off in understandable strategy. Evans hit again and stared again. He said something too, a message that very possibly included a word beginning with F.

“Maybe so,” Evans said later, smiling.

Vindication and the baskets that turned a 95-95 tie into an eventual 107-100 victory. Yes, this is a good run.

Evans has scored 27, 20 and, most recently, 23 points his last three games, a streak interrupted only by the bruised left knee that cost him two contests before the return to exchange holiday greetings with the Raptors. He is shooting 50 percent. He is sticking to a commitment to defense that started in training camp to regularly check two positions a night and is on alert that a three – both backcourt spots and small forward – is possible. He gets the opponent’s biggest scoring threat on the wing as long as it is not a small point guard.

Of course Toronto played it right Wednesday. Maybe not the trash-talking part, but Evans had made six three-pointers all season, for a 27.3-percent success rate. Everybody knows to go into prevent defense and collapse around the lane when he gets the ball on the perimeter, because Evans will put his head down and barrel to the rim. That he made the Raptors pay for doing nothing wrong is the flashing bright light of exactly how good he is going.

These are the moments, however brief, that remind of Evans as Rookie of the Year, either three seasons or a lifetime ago, of why he may still be an integral part of the rebuilding puzzle. Or of why he could still be traded.

The topic is on the clock, especially when he plays like this, because the sides did not reach an agreement on an extension to Evans’ rookie contract by Oct. 31, putting him on schedule to become a restricted free agent on July 1. The decision made perfect sense for the Kings – he was regressing, had no position, and no certain place in the future, and to spend big to lock him up before the Halloween deadline would have been ill-advised.

The decision also raised the stakes on trade considerations, because now it was possible to see them losing a starter for nothing in July, if another team reaches deep enough for an offer sheet the Kings do not match. (To say they could simply sign-and-trade their way into a return is an oversimplification. Team X may not offer any assets Sacramento wants, and the Kings certainly won’t take bad contracts back.) He could stay in the summer with a new deal, he could leave without compensation or he could leave in a swap, but new rookie extension means new uncertainty.

Potential suitors won’t be swayed by a few games set against seasons, plural, of Evans trying to find his way while backsliding from a dynamic rookie season. But it will attract some eyes. So will a few more fourth-quarter Hell no! jumpers.

The truth, though, is that his real value would be as a point guard, and that isn’t going to happen. Maybe another team sees the potential to coach him into a permanent starter, thinking it can work past the endless moments of Evans driving into three defenders waiting in the lane and passing to no one. The Kings had the same vision when they took him at No. 4 in 2009, still a pretty good pick, of someone 6 foot 6 and 220 pounds with the speed and ability to immediately run past and through most grown men. In Sacramento, though, Aaron Brooks has the job and Evans is a swingman.

Playing point guard was the entire hook. Strong, fast shooting guards and small forwards are not unique, and shooting guards and small forwards without a perimeter game, when everyone knows to play them for the drive, don’t bring a lot in return. That is the unavoidable part of the Evans predicament that can’t be stared down.

In Wake of Brooks Pickup, Jimmer Sends Message

By Drew Packham,

LAS VEGAS — Jimmer Fredette barely had time to digest the news.

The Kings added another point guard Monday with the acquisition of free agent Aaron Brooks, in what could potentially mean even less playing time for Fredette.

Jimmer sent a “don’t forget about me” message to the franchise just minutes after word of the trade came down, scoring 30 points Monday in a 113-91 loss to the Rockets, but says his big game had nothing to do with proving his worth.

“Coach just told me to be really aggressive and shoot the ball, so that’s what I did,” said Fredette, who put up 21 shots (hitting 10, including two 3s).

Fredette said he didn’t think anything of the pick up before the game, but is eager to play alongside Brooks.


Goran Puts Rockets In Quandary

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — This is shaping up to be the Year of the Dragon in Houston. As in Goran “Dragon” Dragic, who is playing some serious ball and made life without Kyle Lowry feel a lot more reassuring.

Dragic is coming off Player of the Week honors for going nuts against Chicago, the Lakers and Sacramento, when he averaged almost 21 points, eight assists and two steals and superbly directed the Houston offense.

His ability to shine the spotlight is something Dragic never doubted about himself, as he tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Somewhere between his goals and potential, Goran Dragic believed all this would happen.

With Kyle Lowry out for the past month, the 6-3 Dragic has become the Rockets’ most reliable force, among the league’s most productive point guards and soon, one of the most coveted free agents of the summer.

He doesn’t pretend to be surprised.

“I always expected this,” Dragic, 25, said. “I believed I could do it.”


Much Ado About The Amnesty Rule …

– For labor updates, follow: @daldridgetnt | @AschNBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Rarely have so few words received so much scrutiny.

But if we didn’t know any better, the amnesty provision in the NBA’s new labor proposal (and that’s all it remains at this point, until the untangling process is complete) would appear to be the most important piece of the pending collective bargaining agreement.

It seems strange that something that will be utilized by such a small number of teams would be the focus of everyone’s attention. Yet when you realize the names that could potentially be impacted by the rule — Brandon Roy, Rashard Lewis, Baron Davis, Richard Jefferson, Mehmet Okur, Gilbert Arenas and several others — the intense examination of how the rule works makes much more sense.

Folks in Portland have already singled out Roy as one of the certain casualties of the amnesty rule, with John Canzano of the Oregonian providing the background for how and why it will go down:

The whisper at One Center Court is that Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen won’t bother to take one last look at Brandon Roy before he goes amnesty clause on the guy who won all those games for him.

Here’s hoping Allen does. And that the longest look is into Roy’s eyes.

“Brandon’s out,” a league executive told me Monday. “Don’t know the exact details, but everyone around the league knows it’s way, way done. Paul and Bert (Kolde) are calling the shots on this one.”

While the amnesty provision seems like the hot topic of the day, there are other items in the tentative labor agreement, outlined in a letter from Billy Hunter to the players, a copy of which was obtained by‘s Sam Amick, that require more attention.


Blogtable: Disappointing players

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Which player has let you down like none other this year, expectations-wise? No fair picking someone who’s hurt.

David Aldridge: Nobody’s “let me down–“; it’s not like I loaned somebody $20 and they haven’t paid it back. I would say I’m surprised that Steve Blake didn’t play better for the Lakers this season. I know it takes a couple of years to really learn the triangle, but I thought he’d pick it up quicker than he has and not have to be coaxed to shoot. I suspect he’ll play a lot better in L.A. next year.

Steve Aschburner: Seeing as how I picked Indiana center Roy Hibbert to be the NBA’s Most Improved Player and Hibbert, in many ways, has actually regressed, he’s my pick again for all the wrong reasons. Hibbert did not boost his game in significant ways — his shooting percentage is way down, his scoring and assists are off on a per-minute basis and his rebounds have ticked up only a little. The Pacers’ pivot man did not take responsibility as a leader on or off the floor, and his inconsistent, largely lost season was a major factor in coach Jim O’Brien’s firing. He did get in a great shape and worked hard last summer, but a couple of days working with (and hearing about John Wooden’s pyramid of success from) Bill Walton didn’t have much carry-over.

Fran Blinebury: Though he’s played better lately, Hedo Turkoglu has the distinction of under-performing for two different teams this season.  He never was a fit in Phoenix and overall hasn’t been the same Hedo who was a key factor in Orlando’s run to the Finals in 2009. (more…)

Lowry Fuels Rockets’ Playoff Push

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — In the interest of full disclosure, we should begin by saying we were skeptics when the Houston Rockets decided to hand Kyle Lowry the keys to the franchise and trade away Aaron Brooks.

It’s not that we aren’t fans of Lowry’s daredevil style and fearless approach to any and every challenge that stands in his way. Truth be told, that’s what we love about his game, that and the fact that he looks like your prototypical NFL free safety in a basketball uniform.

But we just weren’t sure if he was right fit for the Rockets.

It’s a good thing general manager Daryl Morey is the man in charge of making Houston’s decisions, because he understood what this team needed and didn’t waste time acting on it.

For all the things Brooks gave the Rockets — a scoring threat with seemingly unlimited range, a swashbuckling young point guard who made up for a lack of size with a huge heart and competitive drive to spare — he was never the take-charge floor leader the Rockets needed.

Lowry is and shows it off on a nightly basis these days (triple doubles, and his Western Conference Player of the Week honor that was just announced today).


Contrite Brooks Returns To Rockets

HOUSTONAaron Brooks was not back where he wants to be in the starting lineup. But he was back with the Rockets, back with his teammates, back at his locker about 75 minutes before Tuesday night’s game, trying to put the worst moment of his NBA career behind.

“Emotions got the best of me,” Brooks said. “It was an embarrassing moment for myself. I wish I hadn’t done it. That’s not the type of guy I am.”

The fourth-year point guard was the guy who literally walked out on his team when he left the court in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s home game against the Grizzlies. He had been frustrated for weeks about his own inefficient play and the fact that coach Rick Adelman was frequently sitting him on the bench late in games.

Brooks had been suspended by the Rockets for Monday night’s game in Denver.

“I just want to send apologies to everyone, to Mr. (Leslie) Alexander, to the GM to the coaches, especially to the team, because I let them down. It was just a big mistake. That’s not me. That’s not part of my character and it won’t happen again.

“I love being a Rocket. I love being here. Right now, my play hasn’t been where it needs to be to play. I need to pick it up personally. I feel if I do what I’m capable of doing, what I’m accustomed to doing, getting healthy and playing, then everything will take care of itself.”


24-second thoughts: A ‘Super’ fade?

As another week in the NBA gets rolling, here are 24 thoughts to ponder and discuss:

24 – Coincidence? The NBA and Marvel Comics – Spider-Man,The  Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, etc – announce a new joint line of clothing at just the time when Superman & his friends are fading in Orlando.

23 – Based on the All-Star rosters, Dirk Nowitzki should be leading the MVP race by a landslide. Of the teams with the four best records in the league, the Celtics have four stars, the Spurs two and the Lakers two. So doesn’t Lone Star Dirk get credit for doing all of the heavy lifting by himself?

22 – Using the Kepler telescope to probe Milky Way galaxy, astronomers are now speculating that conditions might be right for the existence of life on 54 new planets  … and in Indianapolis.

21Aaron Brooks goes from Most Improved to Most Impudent in the space of 10 months, literally walking out on his Rockets teammates in the middle of the fourth quarter against Memphis. Way to make the case that you deserve a big contract extension when you can’t handle the heat of competition from Kyle Lowry.

20 – Forget the Alamo if you’re the Lakers. That horse is likely out of the barn. The real challenge over the final 2 ½ months of the regular is to finish ahead of Dallas for the No. 2 spot in the West and home court in a potential second-round series. The last time the Lakers won a playoff series without home court advantage was the 2004 Western Conference finals against Minnesota.

19 – Who’s going to beat out Tom Thibodeau for Coach of the Year? He started the season without Carlos Boozer. Now the Bulls are minus Joakim Noah and each week they’re looking more like the team nobody will want to tangle with for best-of-seven in the East.


To Extend Or Not To Extend

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Please forgive the headline writers for going all Billy Shakespeare on us this morning (hey, it was staring right at ’em, they couldn’t resist).

But the Hawks are facing a classic quandary regarding two of their most important players. Do they extend one player at the expense of further agitating another? That is the question.

Larry Drew‘s first training camp as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks is entering the frisky stages for reasons that have nothing to do with the game of basketball.

The facts: Jamal Crawford wants a contract extension or a trade. Al Horford is going to get a lucrative extension worked out sometime in the next couple of weeks, well deserved by the way, which will no doubt infuriate the Crawford camp (since they haven’t been able to engage in serious talks about either of his requests with Hawks management since asking about it in July).

The reigning Sixth-Man of the Year award winner, Crawford isn’t the only player coming off of a stellar season that is unhappy with his contract situation. Houston The reigning Most Improved Award winner, Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks, like Crawford a Seattle native, isn’t pleased that the Rockets aren’t interested in negotiating a new deal.

Both sides make understandable cases. Crawford and Brooks want security in advance of a new collective bargaining agreement that might not be favorable to the players. Both the Hawks and Rockets have to be cautious in how much they spend for the very same reasons, the uncertainty of the next CBA. They could end up overpaying wildly for players (Horford does not qualify, he’s a 24-year-old All-Star and arguably the second best player in his draft class behind Kevin Durant) that wouldn’t command the same dollars on free agent market with a different set of parameters designed to benefit the teams.

While Hawks general manager Rick Sund has remained silent on his process with both Crawford and Horford, Rockets GM Daryl Morey has provided some wonderfully plain language that should be easy for anyone to follow:

“We’re not doing extensions,” Morey said. “Quite a few guys on the team are up for extensions. Just policy-wise, we’re not doing it.

“Obviously, every player would want an extension. I don’t blame them for that. All we can do is the best for the Rockets. They’re doing the best for themselves. Make sure they know the reason we’re doing it has nothing to do with how you value the player or anything like that. It’s just we’re trying to keep ourselves as flexible as possible going forward.”

What would you do?