What Happened in #BrooksGate?

Please note: I am not a credentialed reporter. Please do not consider this an “official” report. I cite inside info and my own sources only once or twice. Most of this is just investigative sleuthing and putting together the timeline and evidence I’ve seen. More info may (and hopefully will) come to light and I very well could be mistaken on a couple details. But I have a strong hunch what the TRUTH behind #BrooksGate is: everyone is telling the truth. Kind of.

About Me (Bryan Oringher): I worked in the NBA the past 7 seasons. I was the Wizards’ Head Video Coordinator from ‘13-17. In 17-18 I did Regional Advance Scouting for the Raptors and Hawks. This year, I am putting out media content. You can find my Twitter, YouTube, and all my work to date right on this site (ScoutWithBryan.com).

A week ago, PHX and MEM had some sort of discussion. Dillon Brooks at least CAME UP in the discussion. Bob Young reported for The Athletic PHX:

There never were any discussions between the Suns and Memphis about MarShon Brooks. And the Suns never had any interest in discussing that Brooks.

However, there were discussions for about a week between Phoenix and Memphis about Dillon Brooks. Washington was not involved in the discussions with either team at that point.

The Wizards inquired with the Suns late in the week about Ariza, who signed in the offseason and could not be traded until Friday. The Wizards brought Memphis in to leverage the interest that Phoenix had expressed in Dillon Brooks, hoping to make a three-team deal that would land Ariza in Washington, where he had played two seasons (2012-13 and ’13-14).

The Suns would get Rivers, Dillon Brooks and Selden with Oubre Jr. going to Memphis.

Despite reports to the contrary, there were no discussions on Friday involving Suns owner Robert Sarver, according to the source. He was at the team’s holiday party for employees.

James Jones and Trevor Bukstein, co-interim general managers, were working together on talks with several teams and worked through Washington on the three-way proposal.

The Suns and Wizards had agreed on their parts of the trade and were prepared to join the required league conference call to finalize the deal. That is when Memphis indicated that Dillon Brooks was not supposed to be part of the deal, that it was MarShon whom the Grizzlies were trading.
— Bob Young

So Dillon Brooks was discussed PRIVATELY between PHX and MEM. PHX I’m sure would at least inquire about his medical status, given that he’s currently injured (via John Gambadoro Twitter):

The Suns never had any discussions with Memphis or Washington about MarShon Brooks. Dillon Brooks is an injured player so medical and physical information was exchanged before the trade call.
— John Gambadoro

I’m not certain Gambadoro knows the exact mechanisms behind a trade and then a trade call, so I think this tweet is being misconstrued as proof that medicals were exchanged. This was denied vociferously by Chris Wallace:

Grind City Media: There were reports on social media that the player’s medical information had already been exchanged?

Chris Wallace: We did not exchange any medicals on our players. To give you a little background on the process, that probably would be just a touch early to begin with plus any requests or sharing of medicals would create a paper trail and there is no trail. Regardless, we did not send out any medicals on our players.

So what do we know so far given this info?

Dillon Brooks was at least discussed between PHX and MEM, but THOSE TWO TEAMS never discussed MarShon Brooks.

Washington joined separately inquiring about Ariza and brought MEM into the discussion because PHX had interest in Dillon Brooks. Washington served as the intermediary between PHX and MEM. Friday night at least, there was no Sarver/Pera call. Sarver was at the holiday party. 

So all of this out of Phoenix’s camp checks out. They legitimately thought they were getting Dillon Brooks, the player who they’d discussed off and on the past week. 

OK, let’s check in with Memphis. Since the trade isn’t official yet, no one from Washington or Phoenix is able to comment on the record. But since Memphis was knocked out of this would-be trade, Chris Wallace is. And he was none too pleased. 

First of all, we know the leak didn’t come from Memphis. Because if it had, MarShon Brooks would have been the one named in the deal all along. 

Second, Chris Wallace ALSO confirmed to Chris Herrington that he dealt only with Washington as the intermediary—TWICE:

This thing didn’t pick up steam until late Thursday afternoon, and then the bulk of the discussions were done (Friday), multiple discussions with Washington.
You’d have to ask them. We were under the impression that a deal had been agreed upon and we were fine with our end of it, based on what we’d told (Washington). Obviously that changed.
— Chris Wallace to Chris Herrington, Media Availability

Now, if Chris Wallace is on the record (and Phoenix journalists confirm) that those teams did not speak for THIS particular deal and communicated only thru Washington (Friday mainly), what happened?

More Herrington:

Did the teams get confused about which Brooks was on the move? Sort of.

A Grizzlies source said that both the Grizzlies and Suns initially negotiated through Washington, which was trying to acquire Suns forward Trevor Ariza. Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld was reportedly the go-between.

”We were only talking to (Washington),” the source said. ‘Made very clear to Grunfeld that it was MarShon. Somehow it appears he told them Dillon.’
— Chris Herrington

This is entirely plausible. It would explain Memphis legitimately believing they were dealing MarShon, and Phoenix legitimately believing they were receiving Dillon. Washington played middleman, and something got lost in translation. 

Now, let’s check on the timeline. For that, let’s turn to the news-breaker himself, Adrian Wojnarowski.

First, remember the order of Woj’s tweets:


The tweet at bottom is first, obviously. His first tweet begins with THE WIZARDS acquiring Ariza. It makes no mention of Memphis. 

Now, for the only bit of “insider” knowledge in this whole piece. Obviously, people leak things to Woj. Happens all the time. Almost every team probably does it. But I can confirm that the Wizards DEFINITELY do it. I spent 6 years with them. Nothing wrong with it. Whether it’s Ernie Grunfeld himself, Assistant GM Tommy Sheppard, or someone else, I obviously can’t guarantee who it was in this case despite any suspicions.

It seems tough to make the case here that Phoenix leaked this deal, given that the initial tweet made no mention of the most important piece of the deal to THEM (Dillon Brooks). It also refers only to a ‘multi-team trade’. If PHX was the leak and told Woj they were getting Dillon Brooks, you would think they would’ve at least told Woj what team they’re getting the main trade piece from. 

Now, let’s dive into the 2nd (top) tweet. Now Memphis is bought into the deal. Their only outgoing assets in this deal though are “two role players.” Would Phoenix have leaked a deal about them trading Trevor Ariza for two unnamed role players? Don’t think so. 

Now, let’s continue our way thru Woj’s timeline:


So here’s Chris Wallace, on the record AGAIN, confirming a few things:

  • Robert Pera and Robert Sarver did not speak at least about THIS trade (which PHX also confirmed above)

  • That Memphis didn’t speak to Phoenix during this 3-team trade (which we’ve already touched on above)

  • And finally, once again that Memphis communicated ONLY with Washington during this 3-way deal. Note the very specific wording in the second (top) tweet. They never discussed Dillon as part of “THIS trade with Washington.” 



Now here’s Washington, merely telling Woj they “believe” they were told Dillon Brooks. The Grizzlies seem a bit more sure which player they were willing to trade.

I’m not a scientist, but reading between the lines, it’s pretty clear: Washington mistakenly told Phoenix that it was Dillon Brooks, not MarShon. 

Even Woj here confirms: MEM and PHX used WAS as the conduit. When they finally talked directly, they confirmed the confusion (and Woj cleaned up later that he obviously meant MEM refused to include Dillon over MarShon).

Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 5.06.14 AM.png

So the deal falling apart? Logical. Phoenix believed it was getting Dillon. They see the deal leak and Woj tweet Dillon, and then change it to MarShon. They quickly realize that something isn’t right. The Grizzlies realize the same. They won’t trade Dillon, only MarShon. Deal explodes. 

Checking back in with the Grizzlies:


For what it’s worth, I was also told by multiple league sources that Memphis spoke only with Washington. 


All of what Candace is saying checks out with the timeline above. RE: #3, Washington and Phoenix had the understanding. There is no confirmation that Memphis had ever said Dillon Brooks. RE: #4, the deal could certainly die on MEM’s end when they realized the Wizards put the wrong player in the trade for them. #5 is obviously just speculation.

More confirmation that MEM and PHX did discuss Dillon Brooks directly. But note that Fred merely says “discussed”. No timeline on when this took place. From what I can tell, it was maybe a week ago. 


Draw your own conclusions. I’ve been on record stating that Ernie, Tommy, and the Wizards as a whole always treated me great. They are good people. But this — to me — looks like a significant error on the Wizards’ end, and it cost them perhaps a couple 2nd round picks in the process. In fairness to them, I can’t remember a situation like this where a team has two players with the same last name who aren’t DRASTICALLY different in value. I don’t think it’s THAT unfathomable. But it really seems like it messed up this 3-way trade, creating #BrooksGate, #BrooksChronicles, and costing themselves dearly in the process. Not great, Bob.