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Grizzlies' Dillon Brooks could be back in lineup 'pretty soon'

Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins says there is no timetable for the swingman's return to the lineup.

Dillon Brooks is still recovering from the broken hand he suffered in the offseason.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks continues to work his way back from a broken left hand, and coach Taylor Jenkins expects him back on the floor “pretty soon,” adding Monday night that “everything’s trending the right direction.”

Brooks hasn’t yet made his 2021-22 season debut and disclosed in September at Memphis’ media day that he broke his hand during an offseason workout.

Jenkins provided an update on Brooks’ recovery ahead of the team’s 125-118 overtime win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.

“He had a great check-in with the doctors,” Jenkins said. “[The] doctor is really proud with his progress, thinks he’s in a great place. Obviously, you know he was assigned and had a simulated game today. [He] looked great in that. He’s checking all the boxes that we have. It’s just a matter of just us and the performance team continuing to figure out when’s the best time for him to come back. Everything’s good; just making sure we’re doing everything. Medically, getting clearance there. Basketball-wise, making sure he’s getting his conditioning right.”

The team announced on Monday that it assigned Brooks, Sam Merrill and Santi Aldama while transferring Yves Pons to the Memphis Hustle to participate in a simulated game with the team, and all of them returned to the Grizzlies ahead of Monday’s matchup against Minnesota.

Asked whether Brooks would be cleared to play this week, Jenkins said, “I can’t put a timeline on it. Obviously, we have hopes of when it could be, but we’re just kind of managing day-to-day. [I] hope he responds well [Tuesday], and that will give us more indication on when we could potentially see him back on the floor.”

The team’s longest-tenured player, Brooks enters his fifth season after averaging 17.2 points last season to go with 1.2 steals over the course of 67 games.

Missing arguably its most tenacious defender in Brooks, Memphis (6-4) currently ranks 28th in the NBA in defensive rating (112.7), 27th in opponent points off the break (15.4) and 25th in opponent points in the paint (49.0). Jenkins anticipates “a huge boost” defensively from Brooks’ return to the court, but he stressed the Grizzlies can’t rely on just one player to reverse their fortunes on that end of the floor.

“We’re all capable of improving our one-on-one defense, our help defense, our coverage execution,” Jenkins said. “Our paint rim defense is struggling. It’s a lot of different areas. It’s not just one reason. So, obviously, he’s a huge boost. I mean, he’s big time. I always say, [he’s our] tone-setter, spirit leader for us in general, but especially defensively. When he gets out there, his physicality, instincts, intelligence [are] really going to help us a lot. But we all know that everyone’s got to improve.”

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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