Now with the Houston Rockets, Brooks saw his profile rise to the highest level of his career due to aggression, both rhetorically and physically, toward LeBron James in last season's NBA playoffs, then become the butt of several jokes as the Grizzlies were swept while Brooks flailed. Brooks clearly didn't enjoy it, blaming the media and refusing to speak after the series.
The Grizzlies followed that slow-motion disaster by making the unusual move of leaking they would not sign Brooks "under any circumstances." It's about as loud a door has been slammed on a player by his own team in free agency.
Brooks is now set to face his old team next Wednesday, so naturally he spoke with Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix and made it very clear what he thought about how Memphis treated him:
“What I didn’t like about Memphis was they allowed that so they can get out of the woodwork, and then I’m the scapegoat of it all,” says Brooks. “That’s what I didn’t appreciate. And then ultimately they’ll come to me on the low, as men, one on one and tell me something, but then not defend me when everything went down.”
This isn't a new sentiment from Brooks, who said the Grizzlies left him with a "big chip" and he had Wednesday's game circled at Rockets media day.
The Rockets didn't seem too bothered by Brooks' previous few months, bringing him in on a four-year, $80 million sign-and-trade deal. So far, the results have been solid, but still unmistakably Brooks-ian. He's still trash talking, he's still getting into trouble, but his numbers — particularly his shooting numbers (55.1% from the field, 53.3% from deep) — have been solid.
He's also been a key veteran on a young Rockets team that has started the season 6-3.
So did the Grizzlies make Brooks a scapegoat? With the benefit of hindsight, the answer is probably yes, but it's also not like Brooks didn't earn his scorn.
That Grizzlies-Lakers series was a complete disaster, a team-wide meltdown against a more experienced opponent. What Brooks did was turn a bad series into a sideshow, something these Grizzlies already experience in thanks to their one-sided feud with the Golden State Warriors.
Brooks is now in a position where he should be very happy the Grizzlies didn't bring him back, though, as Memphis' start to the season has been an unmitigated disaster, with injuries and Ja Morant's suspension leading to a 2-9 record entering Thursday. The team is clearly down, but you can still probably guess Brooks will have plenty to say if the Rockets win that game.