It all starts with Manu Ginobili.
If not for Ginobili violating about 37 unwritten rules of player conduct by undercutting a shooter on a half-court shot as the first-half was ending, ABZ would probably be in the midst of a 22ppg season and making a drive towards a long-term contract extension while the Rockets chased a playoff berth (even without Yao Ming, who apparently has been dead since 2007).
*seriously, two months later... that's still a dick move, Manu.
You owe Aaron breakfast.
Nevertheless, our favorite midget seems to be back to nearly 100% health. Yet, at the moment, he resides firmly on the bench behind Kyle Lowry. It's quite possible that Rick Adelman is unaware that this guy currently wearing the #0 jersey is the same guy who was his starting point guard back in November before that fateful day. But we'll never know because I'm too busy trying to figure out why Adelman refuses to exploit Kevin Martin's talents in the fourth quarter. It's uncanny.
While watching the Rockets recent games against the Clippers and the Mavericks this week, I noticed that Brooks is being asked to play more of a 2-guard role. Instead of being a primary ballhandler and distributor, he's roaming the court looking to be a scoring guard. I believe this plays to his strengths, because Brooks has a scorer's mentality and now that he's in his fourth NBA season, I think we can all agree that he's never going to magically develop Jason Kidd's court-vision or awareness. Brooks is not a dynamic passer, but he can be a dynamic scorer.
Relatedly........ we all know that Brooks' rookie contract expires after this season, and he'll be a restricted free agent. Meanwhile, just last summer, the Rockets matched a relatively large contract to retain Kyle Lowry. If you recall, it was a four-year deal starting out at $5.75M a year totaling up to $23.75M. That's starting PG money, my friends. Even if Kyle had never previously topped 10 ppg or 5 assists per game until this year. No way Morey puts significant amounts of money into two point guards that are not traditional point guards. That would simply be bad cap management -- and Morey is like a genius or something, so he's not gonna do that. Thus, it won't take the services of Captain Hindsight to inform the masses that the Rockets already had big plans for Kyle Lowry - and not Aaron Brooks.
This means that Aaron Brooks is most definitely on the trade block.
He has to be.
(The first person to say "Carmelo Anthony" gets stuck with a cattle prod)
Here are some more facts:
Brooks is never going to get taller than his listed 6'
His best asset is speed/quickness, but he's basically maxed that out
Brooks' shooting range begins from the parking lot, but he's also a defensive liability
The primary skill a point guard needs -- passing -- is not exactly ABZ's strength
Brooks is never going to be an NBA All-Star. He's just not.
Brooks is going to want a contract that surpasses what Kyle makes now
The Rockets are unlikely to make the playoffs this year
2011-12 is an uncertain future, and
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and the Rockets are buyers/sellers.
Aaron did, however, attend the school that provided the reason for inventing the concept of "cheerleader" though, so he'll always have that going for him. (Seriously, click the link - it's awesome.)
Now, please do not misunderstand - I am not trying to run Aaron off. He's a very good player and he is definitely an asset to the current roster. The trick is, this roster needs an upgrade and ABZ is looked upon fondly by many other GMs across the league - namely those employed by Sacramento and Phoenix. Daryl Morey knows this. Rick Adelman knows this (or at least he should). I think this is why you're seeing Brooks used in a variety of new and different ways - with different lineups and configurations. The Rockets are trying to show the rest of the league what Aaron can do. He's being showcased. Like on the freakin' Price is Right... in exchange for giving us a legitimate center, you can get a trip to Maui, a new car, and Aaaaaaaron Brooks! Come on, down!
Fortunately for us, Aaron is a good guy and a professional. Meanwhile, we are not the Detroit Pistons, who for some reason are afraid to play Rip Hamilton because they are trying to trade him and they do not want him getting injured. That's bush-league. The Rockets are better than that, and we all appreciate that fact.
The NBA trade deadline is February 24th. We are four weeks away.
I'd say the odds that Aaron Brooks is a Houston Rocket on February 25th are less than 50%. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing. It just is what it is. In the interim, Brooks will continue to get a lot of court time to show off his skills, just not as the starting point guard. I'm sure that has to be frustrating for Aaron, but this is one of those situations where the Rockets' front office has to think ahead and do what is best for the long-term plans of the organization. Because Hakeem, Clyde, Robert, Sam, Kenny and Mario aren't walking through that door.
The next 28 days are going to be quite the adventure.