Free agent profile: Aaron Brooks
This is the 12th post in a series of profiles analyzing a free agent and how he might fit with the Lakers.
Aaron Brooks, Phoenix Suns point guard
Type of free agent: Restricted
Positives: The reasons are obvious for anyone who saw the 6-0 guard run circles around the Lakers when the Houston Rockets pushed L.A. to seven games in the 2009 Western Conference semifinals. He drove through the lane with incredible ease. He fatigued the Lakers with his amazing speed. And the more his performances convinced Lakers fans that the team should acquire Brooks, the more frustrated some of them became with Derek Fisher's limited speed and mobility.
Everything worked out in the Lakers' favor, however, as they won the 2009 championship, and Fisher regained his popularity with two clutch shots in Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic. But since that time, the Lakers still haven't properly addressed their point guard needs. Even with the Lakers acquiring Steve Blake in the 2010 offseason, they still lack the speed and playmaking point guard to complement Fisher's leadership and locker room standing. Acquiring Brooks would immediately offset those problems.
Negatives: Laker fans shouldn't expect Brooks to replicate his 2009-10 performance with Houston, where he was named the NBA's most improved player after averaging a career-high 19.6 points and 5.3 assists and becoming the sixth player in league history to tally at least 200 three-pointers and 400 assists in a single season. But Valley of the Sun’s Michael Schwartz provides a few interesting statistics to indicate that Brooks wasn't the player he was when Phoenix acquired him from the Rockets before the 2011 trade deadline. His overall statistics dropped to 9.6 points on 43% shooting and didn't play well in a bench role behind Steve Nash. Schwartz cited several statistics from Basketball Value that indicated the Suns lost 9.15 points per 100 possessions with Brooks on the floor unadjusted and were minus-4.87 adjusted and that his 46.5 true shooting percentage would have finished 319th in the league had he continued that pace all season, but it proved even worse considering he shot 34.6% with Houston.
Verdict: The Suns offered Brooks a qualifying offer last week at around $3 million, meaning Phoenix has the right to match any offer. So the Lakers' chances of acquiring Brooks remain unclear, but they should make every effort to do so. The expectations should be tempered in that Brooks' breakout 2009-10 season might have been at his peak, but his poor showing last season shouldn't indicate he'd repeat that scenario. The Arizona Republic's Paul Coro mentioned how his season-long ankle sprain and his struggle with adapting to a new time midway through the season contributed to his struggles. With Brooks having time to heal this offseason and having a full season down to understand the concepts, the Lakers would surely benefit from his services.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: The Lakers would immediately address their speed problems if they acquired Aaron Brooks. Credit: Jesse Johnson / US Presswire