USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Brooks has cleared waivers and returns to the Houston Rockets with a team option on the contract for next season.
The Rockets have finalized a deal with Aaron Brooks with a team option in the second year. Aaron returns to the team that drafted him number 26 overall in 2007. Aaron won a Most Improved Player award for the 2009-2010 season where he averaged 19.6 points, 5.3 assists, and 2.6 rebounds a game. That summer Aaron expressed some anger at the fact that drafted him did not extend him but they went on regardless. The following season Aaron injured his ankle on a half court shot that Manu Ginobli felt a pressing need to attempt to draw a charge on which sidelined Aaron for over a month. When Aaron returned he found himself in a Rockets landscape dominated by Kyle Lowry and he never managed to get his confidence or game back. Brooks was traded for Goran Dragic in 2011. He then went on to play in China during the lockout and signed a deal with the Kings for the 2012-2013. Brooks cleared waivers on March 1, 2013 and was signed by the Rockets March 4, 2013. Now that I've bored you with his history, let's look at what he does for the Rockets now that he's back.
Brooks is coming to a Rockets team that's light on defense, heavy on offense, and hot for three pointers. All of these things play right into Aaron's hands. Per Sam Amick on Twitter he reports that Brooks' quickness and speed is still among the best in the NBA and that will help him a great deal. More to the point of how the Rockets play, Aaron Brooks is the holder of the "Most games with one made three pointer" streak (39) and most made three pointers in a season (209). Given the Rockets almost broke the record for threes against the Golden State Warriors Aaron is bringing with them a very good chance to break that if they get hot again.
The Rockets have been seeking a veteran presence and it seems that Aaron's time since his injury has humbled him. Aaron has expressed a willingness to settle into whatever role. When he was told about the fact that his alley-oop pass in the playoffs still shows up on the pre-game warmups he responded that he's looking forward to bringing the good times with him. Aaron has openly stated he's not interested in rocking the boat and he's looking forward to contribute. Any malcontent issues he may have had in Sacramento will fall to the wayside when juxtaposed against the winning habits of the Rockets and the exuberance of the team. Aaron will fit in very well for the Rockets. The question is where?
Aaron is a point guard in size only. Some of Houston's most successful lineups included Aaron and Kyle on the floor at the same time. Daryl has hinted that the Rockets will be going small much of the season and Aaron plays into that plan. The second unit struggles on offense when streaky players aren't hitting their shots and Aaron doesn't solve that but he certainly offers one more possible solution. Right now the second unit includes Patrick Beverly, Carlos Delfino, Thomas Robinson, Greg Smith, and Francisco Garcia. Brooks very well could replace either Beverly or Garcia in that lineup without missing too much of a beat. Garcia was relatively consistent in his Rockets debut against the Mavericks. The most likely result is that Patrick Beverly is replaced by Aaron Brooks. Aaron can man the point and the second unit is likely to be predicated on ball movement and spacing. Brooks offers the spacing and does have a fair amount of point guard skills in tow. In no way does Brooks really put the Rockets over any hurdles they may have had coming in but he fits into the scheme of how the team operates right now and brings some firepower for the playoff push. Aaron won't immediately replace Beverly because McHale generally takes some time to look at his players before integrating them but I would expect to see Aaron finishing games over Beverly in the coming month.
Aaron Brooks gives the Rockets their coveted third point guard (A commodity Daryl Morey has coveted over the years) and provides more floor spacers to mix and match. Aaron fits in nicely with Jeremy Lin and James Harden when the rotations require one of the two to be on the floor on as well. Aaron can beat a man off the dribble, create his own shot, and can the open three. All of these abilities fit in perfectly with what Lin and Harden do. Aaron won't stop anyone, we all know how much a sieve the defense was with Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin, but outside of Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons the Rockets don't have stoppers anyway.
There's a lot of reasons to be excited about Aaron Brooks coming back to Houston. He's not a solution signing, Lord knows you don't have a signing that solves your team's future this deep into the season off waivers. He's quality depth, he's some nostalgia, and he's the inspiration behind my favorite Phil Jackson quote in NBA history.