“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. “ – Gertrude Stein
The Knicks Future Just Got A Little More Rose-y
I read and heard the rumblings about the Knicks potentially looking into making a trade with the Chicago Bulls for Derrick Rose but I didn’t think it was real possibility. A day prior to the trade happening I had posted on my Facebook account talking about being “all-in” on the idea of the Knicks signing Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley even if it meant signing him to a max contract. The reason being that we were desperate for a major upgrade at PG and that Conley was the best PG available through free agency and we had to do whatever it takes to get him signed even if meant having to overpay him to pry him away from the Memphis.
The next day I was busy at work and my girlfriend messaged me that the Knicks acquired Rose. I didn’t know what to think. I should’ve been more excited but I wasn’t. The Knicks have had one good season in the past decade and they were going to acquire a former Rookie of the Year and former MVP (and the youngest one ever at that) and yet I couldn’t bring myself to get too excited. Some of my friends started teasing me by posting many “Rose is injured” memes (some quite funny). Rose injury history is why I was initially in favor of signing Conley (and of course stay away from Rajon Rondo at all cost) but then the more information about the trade came out, the more I grew to not just like it but love it. And no I’m not overreacting to the trade and all of a sudden expecting that the Knicks to be championship contenders. With that said, getting Rose means we should at least have a shot at being a playoff team with potential to be more (depending on what we do the rest of the summer). But there are several other factors why I love this trade:
Low-Risk High Reward
The Knicks are only committed to Rose for one season, essentially making this a one-year gamble. Rose has more to lose the Knicks do. Rose will be 28 when the upcoming season begins and will be on a mission to not only help the Knicks win I’m sure, but for his sake, he needs to stay healthy and be productive in order to cash in heavy as a free agent next summer when the cap will once again rise. Rose will be motivated to prove his doubters wrong by trying his best to stay healthy and show that he’s still an All-Star but if Rose doesn’t stay healthy or isn’t effective then the Knicks can just move on after one season.
Perception is everything especially when it comes to All-Star players. All New York fans love to assume that players want the bright lights of New York and all the attention that comes with playing in the media capital of the world but in the NBA none of that matters to players if your team isn’t any good (not to mention the higher tax rate in NY). And I know some of you think that Phil Jackson was hired to do change that perception and you’re right about that but perception doesn't change overnight. Last year, Phil couldn’t even get a meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge because the Knicks were still far away from being contenders. This year, Phil will have Jeff Hornacek by his side, who happens to coach a style that players love to play (up-tempo) and also bring to the table three potential All-Star players (Rose, Carmelo Anthony, and Kristaps Porzingis). No more getting spurn by the Greg Monroes of the world.
What We Gave Up
I’m big fan of Robin Lopez as I feel he’s a lot better player than his numbers indicate but when Lopez is the best player you’re trading away to acquire a player the caliber of Derrick Rose, then you make that deal in a New York second. I was telling people last summer that the Knicks did great job signing Lopez and that his contract will look like a bargain a year from now and I was right (wait until you see how much Festus Ezeli gets). While Jerian Grant showed some promise in his rookie season in NY and I would’ve liked to have seen him play under Hornacek, he didn’t exactly show enough to become untouchable either. Jose Calderon was just a throw-in and I’ll leave it at that. Most importantly, for the first time in forever, the Knicks didn’t trade away a draft pick! All three players traded away were players Jackson himself acquired as President which may say something about his tenure thus far or shows his growth as a general manager to admit his mistakes and not be a stubborn old man as some said he was for believing in the triangle so much. By the way, a month ago Phil said he was going to hire a friend of his with triangle ties to coach and wasn’t worried about acquiring a top point guard. One month later, his coach is Hornacek and his point guard is Rose. Zen-Master!
The Free Agent Market
The Knicks have about $30 million to spend on free agents this summer and while some will be gullible and fall for the Kevin Durant to NY hype, I won’t. With that said, Phil was wise to see that there’s more quality free agent centers than point guards so it was okay to give up Lopez knowing there was a better shot at finding a replacement at center than it was to keep and get a quality PG. With Rose now on the fold, the Knicks already have scorers but still need to add more talent around them. Somehow Phil is going to need to find and sign a starting shooting guard, starting center, a quality back-up PG (crucial with Rose as your starter), and try to retain Lance Thomas and Langston Galloway if possible. With the escalating cap it’s going to be tough to sign those quality role players for a good price because so many will be overpaid which means Phil is going to have his work cut out for him trying to find pieces to build around his new big three without hurting his…
Flexibility Moving Forward
If anything Phil gave himself more flexibility than he had prior to the trade. By trading Lopez and Grant, who were under contract past this season, he created an additional $14 million in cap space for the summer of 2017. If Rose stays healthy and performs at a high level, the Knicks can talk extension with him next summer. If not, the Knicks can pursue Russell Westbrook (and Durant if he stays in OKC for one year as many believe he will), Chris Paul, or another All-Star by adding them around ‘Melo and Porzingis, especially Porzingis. The key will be how allocates his cap space this summer. If Phil is wise, he'll find a way to get some players to sign two-year deals with an opt out after one year like he did with Aaron Afflalo and Derrick Williams last year in order to maintain flexibility. Fall in love with the F-word Knicks fans because in order to stay consistently good moving forward, flexibility with your assets (cap space, draft picks, players, etc.) is the key.
Last year, I wrote several blogs stating that the Knicks needed to focus on the future and not worry about whether the moves they made make ‘Melo happy or unhappy. See blog posts on links below:
By acquiring Rose, the Knicks are not only making ‘Melo happier but also doing right by Porzingis' future by putting him around great talent who can lessen the pressure on him but also push to become greater. By adding Rose you also send a message to ‘Melo and Porzingis that it’s time to start winning again. A key development for Porzingis besides adding strength and working on his all-around game will be experience, specifically playoff experience. While I’m hopeful that Rose can return to All-Star form, the biggest reason why I’m optimistic as a Knicks is because of Porzingis. Everything the Knicks do today and moving forward should be with the idea that it’s best for Porzingis and the team not for 'Melo or "sell tickets." So far this off-season, Phil has done that.
There is a whole summer ahead but in just a matter of days; things are going to get hectic. If you’re one of those fans who love to get caught up in NBA rumors, go ahead but let’s clear about this: the Knicks are Porzingis’ team going forward and for that you should be optimistic regardless of who the Knicks acquire this summer or not. I tried to stay away from feeling too optimistic given the Knicks recent history but if you can let yourself hope a little bit and just think how great the Knicks can be if Rose and ‘Melo both stay healthy, then maybe next summer we’ll be talking who wants to come play for the Knicks and not who the Knicks desperately need to add. Knicks fans have suffered enough but I truly believe good times are coming. ‘Melo isn’t going anywhere, Porzingis will continue to blossom, and maybe Derrick stays healthy enough so the Knicks can make the playoffs and the Garden can become a little more Rose-y.