Rose to the Knicks
As I walked through the streets of New York yesterday, I got an ESPN alert that Derrick Rose might very well be walking those very same streets soon.
To think back a few years and predict that 2011 MVP would be traded away from his hometown team is impossible to comprehend. To think it would be for this package of players, of whose highest ceiling belongs to Jeroan Grant, is mind-bending. Rose was a storybook come to life right up until he tore his ACL in the 2011 playoffs against Philadelphia. Since then it's been a horror story.
The most intense moment occurred a year later, when it is rumored that Rose's jersey hung in his locker as the Bulls prepared to play the Heat. Rose's return would've been an incredible sporting moment. Instead, the jersey stayed in his locker. Despite being cleared by doctors, Rose didn't feel right and stayed in his suit.
The relationship between team, city and player was never the same. He played 66 games last year and looked terrific in spurts, but was certainly not anywhere close to his former self. The Bulls needed to move on and truly start over beyond the Tom Thibideau era, headlined by Rose. Jimmy Butler is their star now and Fred Holberg is their coach. It's only right to give that pairing (if they don't trade Butler too) a chance to succeed.
As for the Knicks, it's essentially a no risk move that makes a ton of financial sense even before evaluating Rose as a player. Robin Lopez had three years left on his deal, including $13.2 million this year. Jose Calderon is set to make a little more than $7 million and become a free agent next year. Those two salaries essentially combine into Rose's $21 million which all comes off the books after this season when he becomes a free agent. So instead of just Calderon's $7 mil being available in 2017, Rose's $21 million is now available in cap space after the season.
If that was way too convoluted and complicated, read this sentence instead. The Knicks created an extra $14 million dollars in cap space next off-season with the move.
As for Rose the player, he produced at a solid rate after the All-Star break last year. He averaged 17.4 ppg on 46% shooting (37.5% 3pt) and 4.6 apg in 21 games. He did miss a number of games, but averaged 30 minutes per night when he was active.
He's going to need to be managed minutes wise. His body has been through a lot at 27 years old. He's not going to be the MVP caliber player he used to be, but he can be a part of a winning team. He and Carmelo Anthony can play together. He might also help lure Joakim Noah to New York, which would be an ideal fit if Noah can return to form after a few injury ravaged seasons.
The Knicks clearly need to add bigs after sending Lopez to Chicago. Lopez is a good player, but he's nothing special. He can be replaced, and the top flight bigs that the Knicks will make a run at are all upgrades. Dwight Howard would be interesting. He doesn't need the ball except he does. His game says he doesn't need it. His ego does, and if he doesn't get touches he drifts out of games from a rebounding and defense standpoint. With Rose, Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis dominating the touches, the Knicks need someone that doesn't need the ball.
That's why Noah would be ideal. Bismack Biyombo is also intriguing (see below for more on him). Beyond that, they'll poke around players like Timofey Mozgov, NBA journeyman whose upside is probably potential that'll never be reached.
If the Rose experiment doesn't work? So be it. With all due respect to Anthony, the Knicks have a future in Porzingis and need to not screw that up. Anything that gets rushed to try and win now at the expense of Porzingis is a mistake. Between Rose's high locker room character, the potential to bring in Noah and the flexibility the Knicks now have moving forward, this doesn't effect anything negatively for the Knicks' future. If it doesn't work, they just move on, and do so with a cleaner slate then they would have having not made the move
One person who thinks Rose will work is Steve Nash. Did I expect Nash to bash the move? No. Nash is Canadian! They're far too nice! All joking aside, here's what the two-time MVP said at his charity soccer game in New York on Thursday:
"First of all I really hope that Derrick can have a lot of health going forward and regain his best form because he's a terrific player and a great young man. Our league is better when he's at his best and can get a year or two under his belt of being healthy and confident. He'll be a huge addition to the Knicks."
Nash was speaking at his 9th annual "Showdown in Chinatown." The now retired star captained the winning team against a squad led by Landon Donovan. It was a fun event that raised money for Nash's foundation.
The most enjoyable part of the proceedings was Nash's coach, Ted Lasso, who is actually Jason Sudeikis. The actor played the character in some commercials for NBC as part of their English Premiere League promotion a few years ago. He showed up in exact character, short shorts, mustache and all.
Over the hour of game action he dropped gem after gem. My favorite was when MC Spero Dedes asked him about a soccer book he was reading during the game.
Spero: "Most coaches don't read during the game."
Sudeikis: "Well most coaches can't read."
The event was a success for Nash, who was appreciative of the professional soccer and basketball players who joined him. "There are a lot of things to do in New York City, and for people to come back for nine years is amazing."
Who would've thought that a 6'9" tank of a human being would be one of the leading goal scorers in a charity soccer game, but Bismack Biyombo found the back of the net four times in his Showdown debut. He certainly wasn't out there dribbling through people like an oversized Messi impression, but he knew where to be and converted his chances.
It was also quite funny watching some of the smaller players (aka all of them), even professionals, try to get around him because he's just so much bigger than anyone they've ever played against before. Of course defense is exactly why Biyombo is going to sign a contract to become a very rich man in a few weeks.
"You try not to think about basketball right now," the Raptors free agent said, just a week away from free agency opening. "You try to just kick back and enjoy life and leave basketball at the side for a little bit. It has been a long season for me as well as my teammates, so now in the summer time you get to be relaxed and enjoy. Obviously I'm excited about free agency and we'll see what's going to happen."
He's also been through this before. After a lackluster start to his career in Charlotte, the Hornets let him walk after his rookie deal expired without an extension.
"Last year I was a free agent so it's the same pressure as I have now," he said. "It's not the same offers that I'm getting now, but at the same time you just gotta stick with the process and be patient with it and obviously there's a lot of great things ahead so I'm looking forward to it."
Biyombo let out a hefty laugh when I suggested that having 20 rebound games in the playoffs and having the cap $20 million higher certainly can't hurt his mindset going into July. "Now we're getting into tricky questions! I do what I do and I just do my part. I've got a guy who will take care of that."
With that new money available, Biyombo is going to get PAID. He doesn't do much offensively, but he rebounds and blocks shots at a very high rate. He's a starting caliber center that will continue to get better. He'll have just turned 24 when training camp opens. As long as he's not asked to do too much, he's going to be worth $16-18 million in the new NBA market. Does that sound crazy? Sure, but every deal is going to sound crazy until we adjust to the new normal.