LeBron James praises Dylan Brooks as ‘deserving’ of Rockets deal

Dave McMenaminESPN staff writerNovember 8, 2023 at 03:31 PM ET3 minutes to read

Dillon Brooks on guarding LeBron: “Ready to lock him up”

Dillon Brooks explains how he plans to try to wear down LeBron James in the Rockets-Lakers game.

HOUSTON — Dillon Brooks may have parlayed a bad turn during the playoff series between the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers into a nice payday with the Houston Rockets this summer, but his postseason opponent, LeBron James, says Brooks has earned every penny.

“I think every player that is given a contract is given a contract for a reason, and he deserves the contract that he gets,” James said Wednesday when asked if Brooks had boosted his market value by portraying himself as a Lakers star. Chips.

“So I think in his case, he deserved the contract he got. He’s been put to work since he got out of Oregon State, and that’s what Houston found value in while he’s here. So no, I think there’s nothing to do with that.”

Brooks signed a four-year, $80 million contract to join a rejuvenated Houston squad that also added coach Emi Udoka and veteran guard Fred VanVleet to join a talented young group like Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr. and Alberin Singgun.

Brooks called James an “old man” during the Grizzlies’ first-round matchup with the Lakers, and he ended up showing poorly as an analyst and contributor, averaging 10.5 points on 31.2% shooting (23.8% from 3-point range) with 3.0 rebounds. And 1.8 assists in six matches. Meanwhile, James averaged 22.2 points on 48.6% shooting with 11.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists as he led the seventh-seeded Lakers to an upset over the second-seeded Grizzlies.

Brooks welcomed the game when asked about James and the Lakers on Tuesday — and cast no doubt this time.

“Ready to lock him up,” Brooks said. “He’s shooting the ball well. He’s been playing well. So I’m just there to get him tired, get him into the fourth quarter early.”

James said he won’t think too much about playoff history heading into Brooks Wednesday night. Los Angeles faces other problems after losing the first two games of its four-game road trip and falling to 0-4 away from Crypto.com Arena this season.

“I think it’s just the competition alone,” James said. “It’s always great to get out there and compete, so he’s one of those guys that likes to compete with a lot of the other guys in our league.

“But I don’t really live in the past that much. … Over the years, I kind of leave that in the past and find a way to [think about]: ‘How can we get our first win on the road?’ That’s definitely my mentality.”

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