Rumors: The Bucks had interest in Dillon Brooks; should they reignite it?

Dec 15, 2022; Memphis, Tennessee, USA: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 15, 2022; Memphis, Tennessee, USA: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

Throughout the 2022-23 regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks made it clear that their top trade target was Jae Crowder, as they chased him for months.

Yet, the team seemingly had a few backup plans in mind, as it was reported by Yahoo! Sport’s NBA insider Jake Fischer that there were several other players the Bucks checked in on. Fischer never revealed those targets by name during his appearance on “Please Don’t Aggregate This,” but one of them has now seemingly been revealed months later.

On a recent episode of “Through the Wire,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania revealed that the Bucks were among several teams who contacted the Memphis Grizzlies about Dillon Brooks before the trade deadline last season. Memphis ultimately kept the forward, but after a first round playoff loss, they are seemingly done with him. In a separate report, Charania said that the Grizzlies would not be bringing Brooks back under any circumstances.

With Brooks hitting the free agent market this off-season, should the Bucks reignite their interest and take a gamble on him?

Rumors: The Bucks had interest in Dillon Brooks; should they reignite it?

Brooks is not well-liked by the NBA community. He’s an instigator and talks a big game that he is not always capable of backing up. He’s under heavy scrutiny right now for calling LeBron James old and saying that he does not respect anyone until they score 40 points on him, only for Brooks to struggle mightily throughout that series, which ended in a Grizzlies defeat. It’s understandable that some fans would not want a player like that on their team, sure. However, the Bucks do not seem to care about reputation whatsoever with potential acquisitions.

Many fans were worried when the Bucks signed DeMarcus Cousins to a deal during the 2021-22 season because they thought he would not be a good fit culture-wise because the big man was never afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. Cousins ultimately proved to be a great fit and had fans upset when the team cut him. There was an initial uproar when the Bucks traded for Grayson Allen from those same Grizzlies less than two years ago. Allen had a reputation as a dirty player, which was somewhat overblown during his professional days, but that did not stop the Bucks because Allen was a player who could help this team.

Like Cousins and Allen, Brooks’ reputation should not deter the Bucks from going after him, as he can help the team if given a chance.

Two essential things the Bucks need to add more of this off-season are wing defense and youth. Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward, checks off both boxes, as he’s 27 and has earned his stripes as a solid wing defender in today’s NBA. He’s not afraid to match up against anyone and will also bring some physicality to every matchup. Anyone who watched Milwaukee’s recent first round series against the Miami Heat can tell that those are two things the Bucks lacked. Miami owned the toughness and physicality battle, and Milwaukee had nothing to combat it with.

This team needs a player like a certain guy in Philadelphia whom they let walk in free agency less than two years ago. Brooks is not on the same level as P.J. Tucker, who has been a major piece for the 76ers this season, but he could try to bring some of that intensity to a team that simply lacked it this past season and took punch after punch from the eighth-seeded Heat. Brooks might not have changed the outcome of that series, but he would have at least shown some fight.

When pondering the idea of going after Brooks, one has to consider the state of Milwaukee’s wing rotation heading into the off-season. Wesley Matthews and Jae Crowder will both be free agents and could very well leave. Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen will not be safe from trade rumors, as they are among the best assets this team has to upgrade the roster. The Bucks cannot afford to enter next season with a depleted wing rotation. They spent the entire first portion of the 2023 season chasing after a wing. Wouldn’t it make sense to get one before the season starts?

Although Brooks brings intensity and defense to the table, his offensive production is a complaint, and reasonably so. He’s averaged 14.5 points in his career on 13.1 shot attempts and is a career 34.2 percent 3-point shooter. Sure, that’s not great, and it’s clear that the Bucks need to get more help on offense after that series against the Heat. Still, that should not stop the team from adding a defensive-minded wing, which is a significant box on this team’s off-season checklist.

A major question here is what exactly Brooks is going to be looking for on his next deal after being exiled from Memphis. His value is not high whatsoever; would he be willing to take a prove-it deal to “rehabilitate” his image and show that he’s not just all talk? If so, the Bucks should pounce on it and offer him a team-friendly deal. The Bucks were rumored to be interested in Brooks before the deadline, so it would not be surprising to see them go after him once again.

The Bucks and Brooks both have something to prove next season after their seasons ended in embarrassment and perhaps they could join forces to do it hand in hand.

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