The Houston Rockets have a Dillon Brooks problem

Should the Houston Rockets regret signing Dillon Brooks?
Should the Houston Rockets regret signing Dillon Brooks? / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

Some NBA players have a sterling reputation. They're Teflon. No matter what they do, they're universally beloved.

Others are widely panned. They're simply not very productive, and everyone knows it. Finally, some players have a complicated reputation.

Take Dillon Brooks of the Houston Rockets. Nobody can deny his ability to impact the game on the defensive end of the floor. Brooks is a decent NBA player.

The Rockets should probably regret signing him anyway.

Houston Rockets have a bad contract in Brooks

In all likelihood, you're familiar with Brooks' game. Let's recap anyway.

Brooks is an excellent perimeter defender. We're not going to bother verifying that with stats - it's obvious. Defense is effort above all else, and Brooks plays with effort for every second that he's on the floor.

Brooks earns his mixed reputation in two ways - in terms of his character, and through his offensive game. We're scarcely going to touch on character concerns. Brooks has looked the part of a mentor to the young Rockets. He's surely a bit of a character, but we don't think he's a negative influence in Houston's locker room.

On the floor, it can be a different story.

Brooks is a notoriously unreliable shooter. For the first half of 2023-24, it looked like he may have overcome those demons. Brooks shot 39.9% from deep before the All-Star break last season.

After the break, everything fell apart. Brooks shot 29.6% for the rest of the year. In the aggregate, that made for 35.9% on the season.

In a vacuum, you'd take that percentage given how strong of a defender Brooks is. Unfortunately, he's got a penchant for trying to create his own shot - despite his inability to reliably do so. Brooks' 0.54 points per possession in isolation landed in the NBA's 7th percentile.

So to summarize: Brooks is a good defender and a generally poor offensive player. That's not a profile that most teams are lining up to pay $20 million a year for. Yet, that's what Brooks is earning through to 2026-27.

Will that force the Rockets to play him at the expense of the youth?

Houston Rockets should prioritize young wings

We'll give you three reasons why Brooks is a poor fit for this roster:

Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, and Cam Whitmore.

While we're at it, we'll give you one more: Amen Thompson. The Rockets are hoping he'll be a point guard in the long run, but it wouldn't be surprising if he was forced to spend at least some time at either forward position over the next two or three years.

Houston doesn't need to rush to move Brooks. If they tried to trade him this summer, they'd have to attach assets to his contract. That wouldn't be correcting the mistake of signing him: it would be compounding it.

In today's NBA economy, $20 million isn't exorbent. The Rockets should be able to extend both Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green if that's what they want to do, even with Brooks on the books.

Once Smith Jr. and Eason are due for extensions, it starts to get complicated. That may be an opportune summer to deal Brooks - with only two years left on his deal, the Rockets should be able to flip him for expiring money while only sending out minimal assets.

Unless Brooks does something to change his reputation in the meantime.