After missing the playoffs for a third straight season and for the ninth time in the last 12 years, it was clear that the New York Knickerbockers, Team President Phil Jackson and General Manager Steve Mills needed to make a major move. They needed to add someone that can bring some sort of hope for better days and opportunity to make the playoffs. The Knicks took a step in that direction in hiring a new head coach earlier this month in former lead man on the sidelines for the Phoenix Suns Jeff Hornacek and on Wednesday acquired a former All-Star and MVP to go alongside perennial All-Star Carmelo Anthony.
On so-called “Hump Day,” first reported by The Chicago Tribune, the Knicks acquired 2011 NBA MVP, three-time All-Star and the 2009 Rookie of the Year guard Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls along with guard Justin Holiday and a 2017 second-round pick and sent center Robin Lopez and guards Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant to the “Windy City.”
Rose, the centerpiece of this deal fills a serious void for the Knicks who have been in need of a big time floor general and before a series of knee injuries over the past five seasons, the former No. 1 overall pick in 2009 was one of the very best point guards in “The Association.”
Ever since he sustained a tear in his left Anterior Cruciate Ligament in Game 1 of the first-round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs versus the Philadelphia 76ers, Rose has played in a total of 127 games.
Over the next three seasons, Rose has averaged just 15.9, 17.7 and 16.4 points per contest and shot just 35.4, 40.5 and 42.7 percent from the floor respectably. On top of that his three-point shooting, something he really was not known for in his career went from a respectable 34.0 percent in 2013-14 to just 28.0 and 29.3 percent over the last two seasons.
Rose missed the entire 2012-13 season, even though he was medically cleared to play in March.
While he did show some flashes of his old self a season ago for the Bulls, it was clear that he was never going to be the same player again, especially with the emergence of swingman Jimmy Butler as the team’s primary scoring option.
Despite all of that, Hornacek has total faith with a new start on a new team that Rose can get back to the form that made him one of the best lead guards and one of the best players period in the league.
“This is an exciting day for the New York and our fans,” the Knicks’ new head coach said in a statement on Wednesday. “Derrick is one of the top point guards in the NBA who is playoff battle-tested. He adds a whole new dynamic to our roster and immediately elevates our backcourt.”
It is still hard to imagine Rose though in any other uniform except dawning the one of his hometown team. Five years ago under first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls won 60 games; were the No. 1 Seed in the East and Rose as mentioned earlier MVP honors that season. While the team fell in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat of the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, it seemed like this team, which had not had this kind of success since the Michael Jordan years was going to be in contention for titles for years to come.
The Bulls in December 2011 signed Rose to a five-year contract extension for $94.8 million
As mentioned earlier though, Rose damaged his knee and all of that exceptional explosiveness, quickness and uncanny ability to get to the rim was essentially gone and he was reduced to being jump shooting first guard.
The team reached a crossroads, especially after this season where the Bulls went 42-40 under first-year head coach Fred Hoiberg, who replaced Thibodeau and missed the postseason for the first time since 2008.
“Knowing Derrick as I do makes this trade a hard one,” Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said on Wednesday. “Everyone knows him as the local kid who became MVP for his hometown team, but not everyone got to know him like I did. While he is a terrific basketball player, he is even a better person with a tremendous heart.”
This situation is very similar to a big move that the Knicks made six summers ago when they signed All-Star forward Amar’e Stoudemire to a five-year deal worth approximately $100 million. Team president James Dolan boldly stated at that signing that this move was the turning point for the Knicks.
For that first season it was as Stoudemire averaged 25.3 points per contest that season along with 8.2 boards on 50.2 percent shooting from the floor.
Over the next three and a half season however, knee problems and the inability for him and Anthony to co-exist on the court saw Stoudemire’s scoring averages go to 17.5, 14.2, 11.9 and 12.0 and his rebounding averages shrink to 7.8, 5.0, 4.9 and 6.8 respectably during those seasons.
At the All-Star break last season, Stoudemire was waived and was eventually signed off waivers by the Dallas Mavericks. He played this past season with the Heat.
The hope here is though that Rose is still a young player that this risk that the Knicks are taking will have the team reaping so serious rewards next season and the many ones to follow.
Talent wise, he is a serious upgrade from Grant, the 19th overall pick out of Notre Dame in last year’s draft and Calderon, who at this point in his career is an understudy and not a leading man.
Also, with the Knicks moving to a more up-tempo, quick strike offense moving away the famed triangle offense that Jackson used to win championships in Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers, Rose will be a major upgrade and will have a serious chance to resurrect his career.
What makes this deal even better on the surface, Rose will be entering the final year of his contract, where he will be owed $21.3 million. He will be a free agent at the end of this upcoming season.
In the case of the Bulls, the get a solid man in the middle in Lopez, which will be a solid insurance policy if they decide not to sign longtime starting center Joakim Noah, who was lost to shoulder surgery in the middle of the season and in Grant they get a young player who they can hopefully groom to a major part of their future.
“As we said at the end of last season, we are committed to exploring every option to improve this team,” Bulls GM Gar Forman said on Wednesday.
“This trade is a significant step in that process. Our goal is to get younger and more athletic, and this trade moves us in that direction and allows us to start changing the structure of our team. In Robin Lopez, we are acquiring a starting center who is a good defender, good rebounder, and brings a toughness to our team. Jose Calderon is a proven veteran who can run an offense and knock down threes. Jerian Grant was high on our draft board last year as someone with a great skill set and positional size. All three players are great teammates and have tremendous work ethic, and we are excited to welcome them to the Chicago Bulls Organization.”
To put this trade into perspective, the Knicks acquired a lead guard who they hope can be a serious game changer on the floor; can be a solid 1A to Anthony and get them back to where they feel they belong, the playoffs. For the Bulls, this trade marked the end of an era of a player who brought the Bulls back into the conversation as a top tier team in not just the East, but the entire league and had his hometown dreaming of another Larry O’Brien Trophy. A serious knee injury turned that dream into a distant memory and but the team in a tough position and they said goodbye to the hometown kid who had so much promise.
The hope now for the Knicks is Rose can someway, somehow conjure up some of that magic that made him a Top 5 player in the NBA and that he turn the Knicks into a playoff perennial.
Information, statistics and quotes are courtesy of 6/22/16 espn.com article “Hometown Bulls send Derrick Rose to Knicks in Multiplayer Swap,” by Chris Broussard, Ian Begley, Marc Stein and “The Associated Press;” http:// en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chicago_Bulls_seasons; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derrick_Rose; Http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amar%27e_Stoudemire; 6/22/16 report by “The Associated Press,” “Knicks Acquire Rose From Bulls in Five-Player Deal,” by Brian Mahoney on www.nba.com.