I know why y’all are here, so I’ll cut straight the point.
Since rumors of the New York Knicks trading for Derrick Rose, 27, hit the web on Saturday, I had been against it. Like every non-Chicagoan, I have no reason to believe that Rose’s knees won’t crumble into more pieces than a Nature Valley granola bar by the time you finish reading this sentence.
When my phone started blowing up on Wednesday, I immediately knew the cause was Knicks related. I thought, “oh hell, what have the Knicks done now?” I dreaded learning the cause. Shoot, I still wasn’t over four former Knicks, especially J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, winning an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers. I thought great, Jackson’s found a way to further set the organization back. As I settled into my Dos Toros Taqueria lunch (exactly like Chipotle minus the ecoli), I finally got up the courage to see what the buzz was about. I hopped on Twitter and read the breaking news:
The Bulls are sending Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday and a 2017 2nd-round pick for Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon, per source.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) June 22, 2016
Wait. What? The Knicks gave up who? Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez? In exchange for Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday and a 2017 second round draft pick? word? Word? WORD?!
I wasn’t mad at this deal. At all. Shockingly.
When given the choice between Calderon or Rose running the point. It’s a no-brainer. Calderon, 34, is a liability in every sense of the word and trading him for Rose, even with all of his knee injuries, is undoubtedly an upgrade. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ignoring how injury prone Rose is, and how risky of a deal that makes this. But Rose only has one more year on his contract. It’s worth $21.3 million, which is a lot, but it’s a single season. If Rose doesn’t perform this season, then we tell him to beat it. And then we make a run at Russell Westbrook, who’s already rumored to have an interest in coming to New York.
Last season, Rose played in 66 games, his most complete season since his MVP year in 2010-2011. While playing 31 minutes per night, he averaged 16 points and 4 assists per game. That’s not bad production given the amount of minutes played. Also, since this is a contract year for Rose, he’ll need to produce if he wants to get paid next season. That means he can’t sit out games when he wants. And minute restrictions aren’t an option. He’ll have to play nearly every game like the $20 million man that he is.
He also showed signs of vintage Rose last season. Sure, he’s not as quick or explosive as pre-injury Rose, but he still has some speed and the skills to blow by defenders.
Additionally, Rose has transformed his game to be more of a traditional point guard. He doesn’t take as many high volume shots and instead looks to create opportunities for his teammates. He also relies more on the pick-and-roll, which is a favorite of new head coach Jeff Hornacek. Expect a lot of Rose and Kristaps Porzingis moments next season.
Knicks fans who are true to this remain skeptical about this deal because of the team’s reputation for signing has-been players, especially point guards, who are waaaaay past their primes. How do we know this deal won’t turn into another Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Penny Hardaway, Chauncey Billups, Jason Kidd situation? We don’t. But to cope with the realness of Knicks’ history, I return to my initial point. Rose > Calderon. And then I’m good again.
Next, Jackson and Steve Mills must focus on signing a center and shooting guard. Dwight Howard is on the market, but I do not support the idea of him playing for the Knicks. He’s a problem. And I mean that in the traditional non-urban dictionary sense of the word. Also, he opted out of a $23 million/year deal with the Houston Rockets, and will be seeking this or more. Meanwhile, he’s not worth the headache or the money. So, I say no to him. Rumors of the Knicks signing Joakim Noah, Rose’s former teammate, are starting to heat up. Given the right price, I’d ok that move as long as it takes into account Noah’s recent injuries, and his age, 31. Another option is Greg Monroe, 26, who snubbed us for the Milwaukee Bucks a year ago. Both parties are looking to part ways, and I wonder if he’d be worth considering, despite curving Phil Jackson last season. For the Bucks, he averaged 15 ppg and 8 rpg, which is decent production for a big man in today’s league. He’s due $17 million this season and has a player option for next season. And lastly, the Knicks hold the rights to Guillermo “Willy” Hernangomez, a 6-foot-11, 255 pound center and a 7’2″ wingspan from Spain.
Hernangomez, 21, is also Porzingis’ former teammate and best friend, who’s been described as a “stronger Luis Scola.” In his first 18 games with Real Madrid, this season, Hernangomez averaged “6.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in just 13.2 minutes per game.” His contract with Real Madrid ended this season and he’s already rejected two of their offers, with a hope to play for the Knicks. So, don’t be surprised if Jackson opts to give another European sensation an opportunity. A year ago today, we slaughtered Jackson for drafting Porzingis. And after one season of play, Porzingis finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. I’m not saying lightening will strike twice, but Jackson deserves a bit more trust than most of us are willing to offer him.
There’s no doubt Jackson has a lot more work to do. Signing Rose in no way solves the Knicks’ problems or transforms a dysfunctional organization into a prosperous franchise. But the sound of Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, and Kristaps Porzingis doesn’t make me cringe. Plus, the trio of players can be used as a recruitment tool to lure top free agents who respect Melo and Rose’s talents, as well as believe in Porzingis’s future. Also, when you think of Hornacek’s preferred coaching style of pushing the tempo, pick-and-roll, and solid ball movement, these core pieces are essential to effectively executing Hornacek’s game plan. They, however, provide us with little to no defense, but neither did Calderon. Rose also won’t stop the Knicks from being the next point guard in orange and blue to be featured on an Eastern Conference opponents highlight reel — John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas, or even new Indiana Pacer Jeff Teague — and that’s a defensive issue for us. And yet I believe, as long as Rose can put on for us too, and show flashes of 2011 MVP greatness, which I believe he can, I can deal with it. Especially for just one season.