This isn’t the Derrick Rose who won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award in 2011. That version of Rose dazzled throughout the first four seasons of his career with an incredible combination of athleticism and power. The version that has existed since Rose blew out his knee in April 2012 – the first of two lost seasons because of knee injuries – is a significantly diminished one. Lacking that level of athleticism, Rose is now just a quick point guard with an inconsistent jump shot, making him much closer to the league average than the elite.
And while the Knicks would argue – and plenty would agree – that Rose leaving his home town and getting a change of scenery could benefit him, he also is entering the final year of his contract. So if he does perform well, the Knicks would then have to give him a rich contract next summer when the salary cap jumps again.
Most importantly, though, the move shows the direction the Knicks are once again headed. When Kristaps Porzingis arrived in New York last season, it was supposed to mark a sea change at Madison Square Garden. The 7-foot-3 Latvian became a fan favorite during his outstanding rookie season, flashing the potential to be the kind of long-term building block the Knicks haven’t developed since drafting Patrick Ewing more than 30 years ago.
His presence should’ve been a bright neon sign for Phil Jackson and the rest of Knicks management that this was a time for the franchise to think differently for once. Although New York once again doesn’t have a pick in this year’s draft, having foolishly sent it to the Toronto Raptors three years ago in the forever ridiculous Andrea Bargnani trade, the Knicks do have all of their first-round picks moving forward. Patience could finally be possible.
It’s clear, though, that the Knicks have no intention of pursuing a more patient approach. The arrival of Rose shows New York is more committed to winning on the timeline of 32-year-old Carmelo Anthony instead.
Although Anthony has had an uneasy alliance with Jackson ever since the Zen Master arrived as team president in 2013, over the past year he has created chemistry with Porzingis on and off the court. Still, the better course of action for the Knicks would’ve been to pursue trading Anthony to a destination he would consider waiving his no-trade clause for – or, at the very least, trying to methodically add pieces to the roster that could grow with Porzingis.
This move indicates the Knicks will do the opposite, and instead focus on those who can help Anthony win now. Names like Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Dwight Howard – all expensive players on the downside of their careers – have already been bandied about. All will make significantly more than Robin Lopez, one of three players the Knicks sent to Chicago as part of the trade.
Speaking of the Bulls, the deal makes perfect sense for them. Management put all of its eggs in Fred Hoiberg’s basket when it hired him to replace the fired Tom Thibodeau last summer. But Hoiberg struggled to control a roster that won big under Thibodeau, and clashed at times with various veterans including Rose, Gasol, Noah and Jimmy Butler.
Now Rose is gone, Gasol and Noah are all but certain to leave as free agents next month, and Butler will either be the face of the franchise or will depart as well – perhaps as soon as Thursday’s draft – as Chicago pivots to rebuilding around a younger roster better suited to its coach.
In the process, the Bulls picked up a center on a below-market contract in Lopez and a young player in guard Jerian Grant while taking on the final year of Jose Calderon’s contract as part of the deal.
But the focus of this trade is Rose heading to New York. It is the latest example of a franchise committed only to trying to win today and unable to realize that has failed for 15 years running.