Philadelphia 76ers: Dillon Brooks is an ideal three-team trade target

How often have you heard the phrase “the Philadelphia 76ers need to find a third team to trade Ben Simmons?”
A few times? A dozen? More?

It seems like a reputable trade rumor doesn’t come by without someone including a caveat that the other hypothetical team doesn’t quite have the assets needed to get a deal done, and they may have to rope in a third team to bring back the sort of assets that would entice Daryl Morey.

This is a great way to suggest and direct a possible trade scenario without it quite making the most sense for the fine folks in the Philly front office, but for such a three-team deal to transpire, there actually has to be a third team willing to make a deal, with the sort of assets capable of captivating the Sixers’ attention.

A team that might just fit that hypothetical third-team bill is none other than the Memphis Grizzlies, who currently have a roster jam-packed with quality mid-level contracts and a very clear desire to take a step forward before Ja Morant earns his max contract.

If such a conversation were to go down, with a team like Portland or Minnesota looking to re-route their assets to a third team, the player the Philadelphia 76ers should set their sights on is Dillon Brooks, Memphis’ 6-foot-7, 225-pound starting small forward.

Brooks could be a long-term starter for the Philadelphia 76ers on the wings.

Dillon Brooks is a textbook example of the modern-day 3-and-D winger.

He has great size at 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, a varied collection of NBA shots, and a positive defensive rating according to ESPN, Basketball-Reference, and FiveThirtyEight.

Could Brooks look to become more efficient from both beyond the arc and from the field as a whole? Sure. His career 3 point shooting percentage (35.3) is right around the NBA average, and his overall field goal percentage is a few ticks below the average at 42.0. Still, Brooks has averaged 16.7 points per game over the past two seasons on 15 shots per game and actually finished out the 2020-21 season with more points per game on average than Danny Green, Seth Curry, and even Ben Simmons.

And yet, the Memphis Grizzlies are reportedly toying with the idea of trading Brooks this offseason, with the Portland Trail Blazers reportedly getting into discussions before shipping Derrick Jones to Chicago in a three-team deal that ultimately netted them Larry Nance.

But… why? Why would the Grizzlies want to move on from their second-leading scorer, even if they net a good price for his services?

Two reasons: Depth and roster spots.

As things presently stand, the Grizzlies have 18 players under contract, 19 if you count Killian Tillie’s two-way deal. That, obviously, is a problem, as teams are only allowed to have 15 players on one-way contracts with absolutely no wiggle room to cheat that number. While the team could remedy that bottleneck by waiving Sam Merrill, Daniel Otururu, and John Konchar, all that would do is put roughly $6 million of dead money on the team’s books without providing any positive value.

Brooks alone could easily net a first-round pick at a bare minimum, in addition to whatever other assets a team would be willing to surrender to get a deal done.

Factor in the absolute home run decision to draft Desmon Bane 30th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft – a move many a team surely regrets now due to his incredibly productive rookie season – and the idea of getting off of Brooks’ money to instead build around rookie-scale contract players and vie for bigger named free agents next summer makes a good bit of sense for the boys in
Beale Street blue.

While the Sixers would have serious trouble trading for Brooks themselves, as he’s about to enter the second season of a three-year, $35 million contract and matching that money would be incredibly tricky, he’s an ideal player to request in a three-team deal, as he perfectly fits Philly’s timeline next to Joel Embiid.

At 25-years-old, Brooks is only two years younger than Embiid and has played in 20 fewer NBA games; 54 if you count the playoffs. The duo both have 6,000-plus minutes of NBA action under their belts and could conceivably remain in their NBA price for the next seven-ish years.

For all of the good Green and Curry bring to the table as marksmen perched on the wings, both are considerably older than Embiid and will surely retire before his playing days are done. Brooks, by contrast, will surely outlast Embiid unless he completely falls off the map over the next few seasons and thus is an ideal building block to add to the Sixers’ foundation.

Losing Ben Simmons is going to be a tough hurdle to clear no matter what sort of package the Sixers are able to bolster, but securing a player like Brooks, who can fill a 3-and-D role for the next decade, would be a fantastic supplemental return alongside a more established name like CJ McCollum.

You know, I could get behind a starting five of McCollum, Curry, Brooks, Embiid, and Tobias Harris; I really could.

In the grand scheme of things, there really isn’t a perfect package for Ben Simmons. Unless Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal shakes free, the Philadelphia 76ers will all but surely have to accept a package deadline by a player who hasn’t stepped foot in an All-Star game, even if it flies in the face of Daryl Morey’s intentions. Still, if the Sixers want to extract the best value possible from their distressed asset and have to do so by expanding the deal out to more than two teams, bringing back a player like Dillon Brooks could surely make a world of sense, even if it means a few fewer picks find their way into the team’s war chest.