When the deadline to extend the 2007 rookie draft class passed back in November, nobody raised their eyebrows when they heard then Houston Rockets starting point guard Aaron Brooks was not offered an extension. Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey had previously declared that he would not hand out extensions this season due to the uncertainty of the league’s financial situation as the new collective bargaining agreement looms. Brooks was a bit perturbed by Morey’s mindset and you can’t blame either side for their stance – Morey is right to want to know how the new CBA will look before making new deals and Brooks is right to want an extension as soon as possible.
The Rockets will have to make a qualifying offer of $2,976,636 at the end of the season, according to Sham Sports, and would have the option to meet the offer of any other team that signed Brooks to a more expensive offer sheet. Back in November, this seemed like a plausible idea. Brooks was coming off of a 2009-2010 campaign that earned him Most Improved Player honors and the Rockets looked to be back as a perennial playoff team thanks to the return of Yao Ming.
But since then, Yao suffered yet another season ending injury and Brooks was demoted to the bench in favor of Kyle Lowry. The Rockets are still in the playoff picture thanks to their Kevin Martin-centric offense but they have definitely failed to meet their expectations for this season and a lot of that has to do with the disappointing play of Brooks.
More on Brooks’ regression this season after the break…
Brooks established himself last season as a steady three-pointer shooter and that was the main reason he was handed most improved player of the year honors. His points per game numbers jumped from 11.2 in his sophomore season to 19.6 in 2009-2010 almost entirely because of an increase in attempts and effectiveness from beyond the arc. He shot 40% from three on the year while taking 6.4 triples per contest. This year, Brooks is shooting just 32% from three and yet he is still chucking up more than five three’s a game. Brooks has also seen a decrease in overall field goal percentage, assists per game and rebounds per game. An ankle injury five games into the season may have hampered his ability to get going at the beginning of the year but still, 32% shooting from beyond the arc and 39% shooting from the field are unacceptable numbers.
Per Synergy Sports Technology, Brooks is scoring just .888 points per possession, merely an average mark in the NBA, which again was down from his .957 points per possession mark from last season. Brooks rates out at 253rd in the league in ppp, which puts him behind Maurice Evans or the Hawks and Ryan Gomes of the Clippers. Brooks showed last season that he was a better player than those two guys, but whatever reason his play this season has made him slip far beyond most thought the youngster that seemed to be on the incline would. Brooks’ PER is 30th among point guards, just a tad above teammate Kyle Lowry’s, who replaced him as the starter and his assist rate is 44th (while Lowry sits pretty at 10th).
The Rockets may have been willing to make a pretty large offer to Brooks at the end of the season had he kept up his play from last year but his performance thus far has far from confirmed Brook’s place amongst the league’s best point guards. His play has been so bad of late that Rockets’ fans are actually thinking about offering up Brooks to any suitor willing to pay a reasonable price (and what they define as reasonable is also declining by the game). Brooks will need to step up his play before the season ends for the Rockets to give any serious consideration to matching an offer above the $6 or $7 million threshold. He should have his chance but what he does with that chance is what matters and his recent play leads me to believe that at the end of the season, we’ll be sitting here wandering where the Aaron Brooks of 2009-2010 is.