Raptors free agency: Dillon Brooks must be avoided this summer

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 29: Dillon Brooks #24 of the Memphis Grizzlies is defended by Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 29: Dillon Brooks #24 of the Memphis Grizzlies is defended by Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors traded for Jakob Poeltl with the intent of signing him to a long-term contract, but retaining him could mean that it will be hard for Toronto to keep both Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. if they decide to opt out of the final year of their contracts.

Masai Ujiri’s tried and true strategy when it comes to potentially losing an impact playmaker to free agency is to quickly pivot to a player that is slightly less impressive in the moment, but also cheaper. That philosophy prompted the Norman Powell/Gary Trent Jr. deal, and it could help the club land Dillon Brooks.

Brooks may have drawn some negative ire his way due to his propensity for on-court antics, but there will still be a very robust market for his services. With Trent and VanVleet both potentially reaching free agency and Brooks’ value declining slightly this season, a homecoming could be appealing for both parties.

No matter how the VanVleet and Trent situations work out, Toronto will need perimeter scorers that (ideally) fit in with Ujiri’s versatility fetish. Brooks is going to be cheaper than VanVleet and likely comparable with Trent, but his inconsistent play should prevent him from landing in Toronto.

Will the Toronto Raptors target Dillon Brooks in free agency?

Brooks’ 14.6 points per game are the lowest mark he’s put up in four years, and it’s a decline from his 18.4 per game last year. His efficiency has dipped beneath 40%. That is concerning, and there’s enough data out there to suggest that Brooks may not perform at a high enough level offensively to warrant a substantial multi-year commitment.

Brooks, per Cleaning the Glass, has been a net positive on the floor in each season of his career. Memphis has been at least three points per 100 possessions stingier on the defensive end in each of the last four seasons with Brooks on the floor. The defense is real, but the scoring is questionable.

On top of the fact that VanVleet and Trent could bolt, the consistent OG Anunoby trade rumors might create another hole in the Toronto starting lineup. If the players Toronto gets in a hypothetical Anunoby trade aren’t able to provide a convincing facsimile of his game, Brooks can slide in and fill that role thanks to some exceptional perimeter defense.

However, his on-court behavior could make him radioactive in Toronto.

Brooks is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea from a stylistic point of view, but he could be one of the best available free agents in a class that is getting thinner by the day. That says more about the weak free agency clas than his own skills, however.

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