Derrick Rose is a Knick, and the group of spare parts the Bulls received for him tells you all you need to understand about how much the former MVP has fallen.
Robin Lopez is a beginning center, Jose Calderon is a serviceable guard and there’s some who believe Jerian Grant will grow into an useful player. But this? For him? Times have changed, indeed.
Rose, 27, is an ex- Bull now, and mixed in with the depression felt by the Chicago-born, Simeon Career Academy-bred player, pals say, is a relief. There was a time Rose considered he’d never leave Chicago. He honed his game on the South Side of town, White Sox country, at Englewood’s Murray Park, where on draft night in 2008 some 200 locals gathered on the blacktop to celebrate the event. He was an All-Star in 2010, the MVP in ’11 and before a series of knee injuries disrupted his career appeared destined to lead the Bulls to their first title since Michael Jordan walked away.
Derrick Rose averaged 16.4 points and 4.7 assists last season.
And it is a challenge. Once Knicks fans get over the instinctual We got Derrick Rose! They must wonder: What the heck do we do with him? New York is starving for a point guard.
Still: He’s a ball-dominating guard joining a lineup with a ball-controlling forward (Carmelo Anthony) and a rising star who desires the ball. Rose attempted 16 shots a game last season.
Can it work? It starts with two words: “contract year.” Cash – and the want to earn more of it – can be an uncanny motivator. That, coupled with the continuing healing of a thrice surgically repaired knee should elevate the game of Rose. Jeff Hornacek will have to figure out how to keep the ball moving, but if it does Rose should reap the benefits of playing alongside Porzingis – and two frontcourt players – Anthony who can space the floor for him.
How the Knicks fill out the roster will be essential. New York has five players under contract and could have $30 million in cap space. And its needs have never been clearer. A playmaking two-guard would help; the Knicks are expected to aggressively pursue free agent Evan Turner to fill that void. A defensive-minded centre is key; Joakim Noah, Rose’s ex-teammate, makes lots of sense. Pau Gasol could be in the mix, also. Dwight Howard’s name was dangled but would Howard – fresh off a frustrating season spent watching James Harden shoot – really sign on for what would be an even more reduced job in New York?
The Knicks, a revamped roster and a revived Rose could well snap a three-year playoff drought. And even if they do not, the danger is minimal. The chance mitigates the loss of Lopez that Porzingis goes to center, and New York will happily swap Calderon for Rose for one season. But the only danger is represented by him.
If he succeeds – and let’s define success as Rose’s return to the ranks of the top-10 point guards, OK? – The Knicks is going to have an ex-MVP in his prime manning the NBA’s lop sided offense that could go deep in the playoffs if Rose stays healthy. It’s a low-stakes throw of the dice for a team desperately in need of a huge triumph.