When I first heard Rose was rumored to be coming to the Knicks, I immediately dismissed it.
“No way.” “Phil Jackson doesn’t leak moves.” “We don’t have the pieces to acquire him.” “We better not be trading more draft picks for this fragile ass dude.”
When the deal was confirmed, I couldn’t believe all they gave up was Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, José Calderon and a 2017 second round pick…..wait, what? The Knicks are getting the second round pick?!?! It seems the pessimistic take is that the Bulls know something the Knicks don’t. That’s not realistic. What would they know? That he gets hurt a lot and doesn’t want to risk his body for the game? It’s not a secret. It’s more likely that the Bulls made the move they thought was best for the organization. The same way they fired a winning coach for a marginal college coach, in an attempt to do what’s best for the organization. Or like the time they broke up the three time champion Bulls because….ego. The Bulls will be fine. They’ll sign a free agent or two, make a deal- they’ll stay afloat. However, their fan base and most fan bases are all about trying to win a championship. There are a lot of teams trying to reinvent the wheel in an attempt to win a ring. It might sound crazy but winning a championship is not complicated, it’s just really difficult. There’s a difference. Simply enough, you start by accumulating better players than the other teams. Your chances of winning are minuscule, if you don’t have Hall of Fame level talent. If you don’t have said talent and your plan isn’t to acquire said talent, then you’re just spinning your wheels. Spinning your wheels out of the playoffs or in the playoffs, but you’re still spinning your wheels. Conventional thinking says to stay away from a risk like Rose, but conventional thinking doesn’t win championships. That’s why it’s not Rose colored glasses that ignores the doom and gloom take on this trade, it’s clarity.
How is it possible that Bulls fans and Knicks fans can be upset about this deal at the same time? One of these kids is clearly doing their own thing. Exploring the positives of this this deal from the Bull’s perspective is a challenge, to say the least. Trading Rose is one thing, trading him so Robin Lopez’s contract can be on the books during next summer’s free agency blitz, is misguided, at best. They’re also getting two point guards from a team widely considered in need of an upgrade to those point guards. Shrewd. These players are solid but they don’t carry a lot of appeal as individuals. Lopez really is the the sole asset that holds any value. It’s hard to imagine that things have gotten so toxic with Rose, that holding him for another season or just moving him for a draft pick, wouldn’t have been a better move, both on the court and financially.
The Knicks were criticized and laughed at for their low key signings last year, but thoughtful NBA analysts graded the signings as good moves. They made conservative pickups because they couldn’t reel in the “big fish”. Lopez was the best of the bunch. He was signed to an affordable, good value contract, which would be easy to move. He had a solid season, that lived up to the deal. The issue is, Kristaps Porzingis’ emergence, along with league’s overall insistence on going small, limits Lopez’s minutes on this team. His contract isn’t a value if he’s only playing 20 mins per game and your team’s best lineups may have KP at center. José Calderon, God bless him, he tries hard….sometimes. He cannot defend his position and in no way plays aggressively enough on offense to offset what he’s giving up defensively. He’s not a penetrating guard and at this stage of his career, doesn’t create enough opportunities for other players. He may have a solid season with his new team but he’s not the guy who’s going to help you win games against the best competition in the east, not anymore. Jerian Grant, at best, is a “maybe” player. I think he can maybe play in this league, but by no means should he be considered an un-tradable asset. Nothing left the Knicks roster that will be missed and cant be replaced. Conversely, the potential gain for the Knicks is inarguable.
There are a lot of ways to look at this trade. Same ‘ole Knicks isn’t one of them. Twenty seven year old former MVPs don’t walk through those Garden doors too often. Rose comes with his share of baggage, yes. To say injury concerns with him are valid, is an understatement. He doesn’t answer questions with the sharpness and insight you would hope for. He’s put his foot in his mouth on several occasions, as well. Maybe he doesn’t care and is just telling the truth. Like when he thanked the Bulls for trading him at the Knick’s press conference. Laughter ensued, vines were made. When expounding, he explained that they could have traded him anywhere in the league and he’s glad it was to NY. He comes across as a no nonsense, straight forward dude, with no agendas. His truth just isn’t what fans and the media want to hear. He’s seemingly traded opportunities to compete on the court for his own health and best interests. Fans hate that. The media hates that. That said, when he steps on the court, he’s all heart. If NY sees that, he’ll be forever loved.
Last year, Rose finally returned coming off of three knee surgeries. He hurt his eye in training camp and said he was seeing double for half the season. All of those Mr. Glass memes are spot on. His season averages last season, 16 ppg 5 assist, 3 rebs, 44% efg, 29% from three, are well below what you expect from a former MVP. His second half numbers were better. Namely in February where he averaged 20ppg while shooting 40% from three. Defensively, he played better than he did in his MVP season, holding opponents to .781 points per possession and his pick and roll defense was .743 points per possession, ranking him as a high end defender. All good indicators that this a complete no brainer move for the Knicks. Worst case scenario, he stinks it up and/or is hurt all year. The Knicks would be able to walk away from his contract next year and another max money player could be signed. This deal gives the Knicks the high end of Rose with a soft landing for his low end.
Knick fans claim to want a championship and they claim they want to build the “right way” but they have no idea how to do it. Most of the league has no clue how to do it. The one thing we all should know, is you need top tier talent to win rings in this league. You need the league’s best players and always have. These guys don’t grow on trees and they don’t fall in your lap with no strings attached. You draft them or you sign them. You trade your existing talent for them and you’re likely giving up any chance of winning with said player. It will cost you draft picks- oh wait….. Knick fans don’t want to trade draft picks, so there’s that. The Knicks did none of that here. Free agency premier point guard crop is limited to Michael Conley. I like Conley but he’s not coming to NY, leaving money on the table in Memphis while turning down all other suitors. The likelihood is slim and frankly, at 28, with career averages of 14ppg and 6 assist, what guarantees will Conley be bringing off a major injury of his own? Teague was rumored to be available, he only got traded for a lottery pick. Not gonna work.
Knick shade is fun clickbait. Every move is bad, every misstep is a disaster. A victim of their history, no doubt. This was a solid move, with the potential to signal to players around the league that the Knicks mean business. A healthy Rose, Melo, KP and money to spend, is a good look for anyone with a clear lens.
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