Phil Jackson wasted no time last week in a surprise move by acquiring Chicago native Derrick Rose from the Bulls in a blockbuster trade. Judging from analysts and the twitter-sphere, the initial reaction can only be described as ‘mixed’.
Rose is arguably still a huge name in the sport, having won the MVP trophy in 2011 and guiding the Bulls to their first conference finals in thirteen years. However, after such a fruitful season that revitalised the hopes of the city’s fan base, that had not been felt since the era of Michael Jordan, Rose’s health took a turn for the worst.
A torn ACL in the 2011/12 season began a spiralling trend of knee injuries that subsequently left Rose missing over 61% of the games since. Those who watch the NBA became accustomed to seeing him in a suit rather than their team colours on the court. Even when he returned every attempt at driving to the hoop left fans wincing in fear that he may suffer yet another knee injury.
So why would the Knicks trade for a guard with such a chequered history, and who the Bulls were eager to let go? Well despite the past few seasons things are looking brighter for Rose. Firstly he managed to play 66 games last season, finishing strongly after the all-star break – evident in his month of February where he averaged 22 points and six assists.
It must be noted that this is a contract year for the point guard, which in the eyes of many former players can be a game changer in proving one is worth the big contract they so desperately seek. In Rose’s case this is even more significant, as he has previously mentioned the option of retiring early in order to have a healthy life post-basketball. Therefore this contract could very well be his last if injuries once again return. There is no doubt that he will showcase his best in the coming season to earn as much as possible.
Phil Jackson shocked many with this move, and when fans consider what he had to give up in Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon, one might look past the views of serial criticisers such as Stephen A. Smith and see it as a clever trade. Although Lopez and Grant were on decent contracts (when taking next season’s cap-rise into consideration), the fact is that the Knicks can do better. With the allure of Carmelo, Porzingis and now Rose, they should be able to construct a team that can genuinely contend. It’s the long craved flexibility that has allowed them this freedom.
Rose only has a year left on his deal, which essentially signals a win-win situation for New York. This is because if he doesn’t perform next year, the Knicks will be left with over $50 million in cap space to spend on marquee free agents for the 2017/18 season. At only 27-years of age, Rose still has serious potential assuming he stays off of the injury table – judging by the last two seasons this is a real possibility.
There is no downside to Rose moving to the Big Apple and Phil Jackson knew this when he gave the go ahead. Now all that’s left is adding in the pieces to help the so called ‘New York’s big three’ succeed.