Suns Acquire Brooks at Trade Deadline Wire

By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: Feb. 24, 2011

Up until five minutes before the passing of the trade deadline, the Suns appeared as if they were going to stand pat with their roster for the remainder of the season. But in the NBA, a team's destiny can change in an instant.

In the last few moments leading up to the trade deadline, the Suns sent backup point guard Goran Dragic and a lottery-protected first-round pick to Houston for point guard Aaron Brooks. Brooks, a speedy point guard in his fourth year out of Oregon, is averaging 11.6 points and 3.8 assists a game this season.

“This provided a terrific opportunity for us to improve our backcourt and add an exciting player to our second team, which is so important to our success,” Suns President of Basketball Operation Lon Babby said. “We felt that we could improve and that could take a lot of pressure off of our starters, in particular, Steve Nash.”

Last season, the 6-0, 161-pound Brooks averaged a career-best 19.6 points and 5.3 assists a night on 40-percent shooting from three-point land. For his efforts he was named the 2009-10 NBA’s Most Improved Player.

“He can score at the highest level and he’s had games in the high 30s and 40s,” Suns General Manager Lance Blanks said. “He’s put his team on his back and won games. He’s not afraid to make or take big shots and is a point guard who has the ball in his hands a lot; which is something that this system offers.”

Dragic’s 7.4 points and 3.1 assists a game this season was nearly what he averaged during the 2009-10 campaign, except his field goal percentage dropped from 45 percent to 42 and his three-point percentage dropped from 39 percent to 28 percent. The Suns front office personnel believe the move can help solidify a bench in need of some consistency.

The Rockets appraoched the Suns with this proposed deal within 48 hours of the deadline passing, and although members of the Suns front office were content with not making any further moves this season, they also thought it would be wise to remain open-minded to any deals that made sense for the betterment of the franchise.

“It came together quickly at the end,” Babby said. “We have said all along that we didn’t expect to do anything, while continuing to do our due diligence. That was an accurate statement, but as I said, sometimes things come your way that you don’t expect and you have to be prepared to respond to them.”

By averaging 8.4 more points a game than he had during the 2008-09 season, Brooks registered the largest scoring increase of any NBA player during the 2009-10 season. In addition, Brooks also led the league in three-point field goals made with 209 and became just the sixth player in league history to tally at least 200 three-pointers and 400 assists in a single season.

In exchange, Phoenix will send Houston Dragic, as well as its 2010 draft pick unless the Suns miss the playoffs. If the Suns’ pick becomes a lottery pick because the Suns don’t advance to the postseason, the Rockets will receive the first-round draft pick acquired by the Suns in their six-player deal with the Magic.

Therefore, under no circumstances will the Rockets receive a lottery pick out the deal.

“From the basketball perspective, it was a function of attacking the known vs. the unknown of the draft,” Blanks said. “We know where we are relative to the playoff situation and we know that there was an opportunity to get better. And we also know, that regardless of what pick you might get, that there aren’t many players like this one under any scenario.”

One matter that Babby and Blanks wanted to make clear was the Brooks was not brought to Phoenix to be the heir apparent to Nash. The two highest-ranking members of the Suns’ basketball operations department believe that Nash is a once-in-a-generation talent.

“I could go through a laundry list of guys that have come through this league and the guys that would fit into the class of Steve aren’t that long,” Blanks said. “Aaron will need to carve his own path and create his own way.

"I believe we’ll be able to give him an opportunity to do that because this system fits his style of play extremely well. But to suggest that this is the heir apparent to Steve; that doesn’t exist right now.”

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