Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images
Brooks finds an appealing opportunity in Chicago
By Adam Fluck | 07.22.2014
In the last two seasons, smaller guards have thrived off the bench for the Chicago Bulls.
Aaron Brooks, a 6-0, 161-pounder about to enter his seventh season in the NBA, hopes he can follow that trend.
“It was about the opportunity,” Brooks said on Tuesday after signing a one-year deal with the Bulls. “A great team with a great coach. They’ve had successful guards like me in the past. I’ve never played in the Eastern Conference. I’m excited for the challenge and something different.”
Brooks is well aware of the recent success in Chicago enjoyed by Nate Robinson, who like Brooks is a Seattle native, and D.J. Augustin.
Two seasons ago, Robinson averaged 13.1 points and 4.4 assists in 82 games (23 of them starts), while last year, Augustin recorded 14.9 points and 5.0 assists in 61 games (nine starts).
“You never know what’s going to happen,” said Brooks, 29. “I enjoyed some success this past year when I got the opportunity to play. I think they just want me to come in, work hard, and help push everyone. I’ll be playing behind Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich, two excellent point guards. So I’ll just go in and work, push them in practice and make them the best players they can be. I’ll help out in any way that I can.”
As for Rose, Brooks can’t wait to play with the former NBA MVP. Though Rose suffered a season-ending knee injury 10 games into last season, Brooks was impressed by how good Rose had looked until that point.
“When he came back last year, I thought he was on his way to looking better,” said Brooks of Rose. “It surprised me how quick he was so quickly after coming back. I haven’t met him yet, but I don’t have any doubts that he’ll be strong and healthy.
“One thing I’ll say about him is that he’s a winner,” Brooks added of Rose. “I definitely got that when we played against him. He goes out there and he competes and he wins games. To me, he’s definitely the most athletic point guard in the league and he finds a way to get the job done.”
Brooks also said he’s looking forward to the chance to play for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau was an assistant coach in Houston from 2003-07 but departed for Boston the summer the Rockets selected Brooks with the 26th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
“The one thing I remember about playing against Chicago, you always knew you were facing an extremely disciplined team,” said Brooks when asked about Thibodeau. “He maximizes what he gets out of his players and they all buy in and play hard. You can see he’s a very good coach and I look forward to playing for him, bringing my lunch pail to practice, buckling down and being ready to go.”
Chicago’s offseason moves, namely the additions of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic through free agency and trading for Doug McDermott on draft night, have given its roster significant depth. But it is some of the team’s intangibles that are so appealing to Brooks.
“It’s a hardworking atmosphere,” said Brooks. “Joakim [Noah] brings a toughness to the team that everybody follows. Everybody plays hard and like I said, Thibodeau does a good job of maximizing the talent. Guys work hard and play for each other. It doesn’t seem like there are any egos on the team.”
Statistically speaking, Brooks was at his best in 2009-10 when he averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists for the Rockets and won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. He’s confident that he can play at just as high of a level again.
“I’ve had flashes of it since then,” said Brooks, who last year turned in notable performances of 24 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds in a loss to the Rockets in April and 27 points, 17 assists and six rebounds in a win over the Pistons in March. “I think it will take having the opportunity along with consistency. This is a chance to come in, play hard and see if I can find some minutes. So that’s what I’m going to do.”