Last summer, bringing Derrick Rose to the Knicks in a trade that sent Robin Lopez to the Bulls was supposed to do two things at the same time. It was supposed to upgrade the point guard position from aging Jose Calderon and simultaneously give the gifted, though often injured, Rose an opportunity to redeem his career. If the Rose baggage was just about injury, the Knicks could have created a reasonable plan to go forward but in Chicago there was behind the scenes buzz of Rose and Jimmy Butler friction and so chemistry was always going to be an issue.
In a few cases, a change of scenery can do magical things for players who have been in a place too long and for Rose that was definitely the case. His hometown didn’t serve him well and Rose didn’t serve himself well.
So now he is on to Cleveland after a short tour in New York. A $19 million dollar pay cut makes Rose both a curious figure and a mystery. Whoever said changing zipcodes brought happiness was lying. In this case, whatever happiness to be had is in LeBron James hands. The fingers crossed hope is a moderately healthy Derrick Rose will guarantee playoff success.
But that was what the Knicks thought.
Rose’s 2016-17 season season started on a salacious note with Rose in a sexual assault case filed by his former girlfriend and when he was acquitted of all charges the page was turned. A breath of fresh air. But six months later Rose was almost, but not quite, back to square one. Another knee injury, a torn meniscus, surgery.
It is the Derrick Rose carousel as if the basketball gods are mad at him for something. Torn ACL in the 2012 playoffs. Then torn meniscus. Now another torn meniscus.
The Cavs want a quick fix after the Kyrie Irving trade request became the Kyrie Irivng set the NBA on fire. The messaging was a debacle for both sides. Kyrie looks selfish. The Cavs look broken. Here comes Rose, the former MVP. The Cavs have equaled the Warriors with two MVP’s so there is that messaging they can cling to but Rose isn’t Kyrie, not on his best day.
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Rose had a good year. He is still a starting point guard in the league and will do enough for the Cavs but questions about his efficacy revolve around his defense and his inability to drain a three point shot (21%). He will never be that MVP Rose, no more 21 point seasons in his future but the 18.0 points he gave the Knicks last year is the Derrick Rose redemption.
Two years ago, Rose admitted he contemplated quitting. If ordinary people have bad days at work and want to walk away, Rose is entitled too. And the question has to be asked: when is enough going to be enough? When will Rose tire of the injury, surgery, rehab wheel turning round and round? The Cavs are already an older team, now they are older and injured. It won’t hurt them much in the regular season but in the playoffs they have very little margin for error. And this too: LeBron must do more.
But as far as value, you can’t beat Derrick Rose. He is cheap. It costs the Cavs next to nothing. If some miracle falls down from the heavens and Rose regains some of his quickness and regains his form and is not injured than the Cavs are the front runners to re-sign him in 2018. But any mention of 2018 leaves the Cavs with a headache. They could lose everything.
The present is what counts and to be fair to Rose, amid all the shade because he doesn’t look the same and it is hard to get the mental picture of who he used to be out of our collective heads, his efficiency shooting the ball was a 7 year high though his three ball was the worst it’s been in his 8 year career which is a problem in a league where point guards drain three point buckets. He improved his offensive rebounding and defensive rebounding but his assists were mediocre, worse than Kyrie’s. 18.0 points a game was better than what anyone had hoped for. It’s his best point total during this injury matrix.
This past season, Derrick Rose was the 51st ranked point guard. The year before he was 65th.
Rose can’t guard anyone anymore, another problem, ranking 73 out of 83 points guards (Defensive Real Plus-Minus). But neither could anyone else on the Knicks so no one was sweating it.
Despite the prisoner of the moment texture of Rose vs. Kyrie, Rose has more at stake. Despite the salary cut, Rose is trying to cement his identity in a league that is confused by him. Playing with LeBron will legitimize everything he can do with this new body of his.
Derrick Rose to the Cavs is not going to save the Cavs from Kyrie Irving hell. Irving will be missed when he is finally traded. He is a dominant offensive player, a force. But all Derrick Rose is being asked to do is be a substitute. Not Kyrie. Not the former MVP. Not Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose. But 2017 Derrick Rose. That guy.
photo via llananba