Did the Knicks Win the Trade for Derrick Rose?

The opinions are divided on whether bringing the 27-year-old point guard to NY was a good idea.


The big splash came. After last year’s offseason of retooling a roster bereft of talent with signing players to mostly smart, mid-sized contracts the team finally decided to dip their toes into the “superstar” market. On Wednesday it was reported by the Vertical that the Knicks had acquired Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday and a 2017 2nd-round pick in exchange for Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon.

As expected, Knicks Twitter exploded. Immediate reactions were casted and the trade was either viewed as a disaster or a clear win. The reasons for that are mostly surrounded around how we view Rose, and what we project him to be going forward. The standing of where the Knicks franchise currently sits makes the seemingly long-term route more of a short-term one, and that seems to be the divide between the fans. But let’s take a deep dive into both sides of why the Knicks would make the trade.

For the trade:

In 2011 Derrick Rose was the MVP of the league. The last time a former-MVP was traded before his 30th birthday was Moses Malone in 1982. Ironically, after winning the MVP for the Rockets he was traded to the 76ers where he would win the MVP for the 2nd consecutive year. The difference here is that we haven’t seen anything close to that Rose MVP year, which is why the trade haul the Bulls got looks a lot different than the one the Rockets got for Malone.

So what was the real risk in getting Rose? Former-MVP talents don’t just fall off trees and what the players the Knicks gave up for Rose were simply an average center, a 2nd-year point guard who showed little flash during his rookie season and a backup point guard who was on a contract most saw as untradeable. The risk that the Knicks took in acquiring a player that may just have a 10 percent chance of playing at his previous All-Star levels is one that seems to be a smart gamble.

Let’s say Rose doesn’t get back to that caliber of player and he has a season in which he is injured and doesn’t play very much. Well the contract is for one more year and the Knicks can hope for Holiday to become a solid rotation player and the 2nd round pick as a chance to develop another young prospect.

Here are the numbers Rose posted last season: 66 games, 32 MPG, 16.4 points, 4.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds, a 42.7 FG percentage and a 29 percent 3-point percentage. Not the most efficient numbers from your starting point guard. But part of the reason he shot so poorly for part of the first half of the season is because he came back from an orbital fracture and couldn’t see properly. That usually is an important factor when trying to shoot. So I took a look at his numbers after the All-Star break (much smaller sample size, obviously) and here’s what I found: 17.4 points, 4.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds, a 46.8 FG percentage and a 37.5 3-point percentage. It would be foolish to think that a career 30-percent 3-point shooter has just turned the corner entirely and was now more in the 38-percent range, but the bump in efficiency from the field is a truer indication of the player he should be going forward.

It gets a little exciting when you look at what the core of the team will be for the 2016–17 season. Carmelo Anthony uniting with an offensively capable point guard should help lift some of the scoring burden off of his shoulders. The possibilities of running pick and roll and pick and pop with Kristaps Porzingis at center should open up a lot of space for the offense, and force defenders to actually guard a lead ball threat heading downhill at the basket. The opening at the center position gives Wily Hernangomez a chance to steal some minutes, and play with his former teammate, Porzingis.

Against the trade:

Same old, Knicks. Reaching back for the fastball and delivering on the idea of a “star” to the Knicks fan base in order to keep them content. This move reeks of the team offsetting some of its patience in moving the chips toward the center on a “win now” attitude to take advantage of the Carmelo Anthony window. And most fans may question why that attitude is wrong considering getting better is inherently opined as being a good thing. Why it’s wrong isn’t the winning, it’s the direction of the franchise setting up an unstable, long-term foundation. A championship contender will not be built on the legs of Derrick Rose, Anthony and Porzingis. It just won’t. So why are the Knicks deciding to sell off a center that is on a team-friendly contract for the next 3 years and a young point guard that is on a rookie contract for a 1-year rental of an injury plagued former star?

Best case scenario is Rose becomes that force that he was in his early days with the Bulls. Guess what? He’s a free-agent after this season. You just traded long-term assets for a 1-year player that can help get this team the 8th seed, and gives you the upper hand in bringing him back on a max contract. Can’t wait.

What might actually be most concerning with the deal for Rose is what it says about the Knicks plans to do in free-agency. Rumblings from beat writers are that the team may look to sign someone like Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol. In a vacuum all of those players would be fine fits with the Knicks under the right contracts, but in a free agency period with the cap rising precipitously contracts are not going to be what you thought of them a couple of years ago. With how much teams can spend, and how filled Howard’s resume is, it is a real possibility that the 30-year-old could command a max contract that pays him at a base rate of $30 million over the next few seasons. Noah is coming off a deal that just paid him $13.4 million last season and Gasol off of a nearly $8 million figure. The players will get paid this offseason, much more than they made in the previous season so you better feel comfortable paying up for a center well over what the Knicks already had in Lopez.

And this all is ignoring the fact that Rose had no value! It was known throughout the league that you didn’t have to give up very much to get him, so why did the Knicks do the Bulls a favor by trading those assets for Rose? Who knows because when you look at the numbers you’d understand that the value he’s had on the court has not been very good.

Last season he had a PER of 13.5, a Win Shares total of .4, and a VORP of -.7. Lopez had a PER of 17.6, a Win Shares total of 5.8 and a VORP of 1.9. Calderon had a PER of 12.3, a Win Shares total of 4.0 and a VORP of 1.0. Comparing these numbers in this manner isn’t exactly fair but when you look at the durability and consistent production Lopez has displayed over the past few years, it really isn’t close. If you want to take a deep dive into how well the team as a whole played with Rose on the floor you’d have a tougher time selling this off as a good move.

Over the 127 games that Rose has played over the last 3 years, the Bulls have had an offensive rating of 94 points per 100 possessions and have had a defensive rating of 108 points per 100 possessions. That means the team had a -14 net rating when he took the court, which is just a tad better than what Kobe Bryant mustered up this past season (-18). Also, for the fans who watched Calderon play defense this season you’ll understand how much this stat will hurt: Calderon’s defensive rating per 100 possessions last season was 109 while Rose’s was 110.

The stats show that Rose simply hasn’t been good even when he’s been on the court, so is expecting the old Rose to return even feasible when you factor in the team has little depth behind him and hardly a chance to build a roster that covers his weaknesses? Planning on bringing in Rose is a fine idea but for the players they had to give out and the ideology behind the move the Knicks are ill prepared to provide the proper environment to make this Rose bloom once again.

Verdict:

The mishmash view of what the future beholds was made murky by extending Anthony two years ago. The Knicks should have used this summer exploring trade options for the 32-year-old but now this is what the team will be. A team faking the ability to win big in the now all the while wasting years giving Porzingis the foundational pieces to lead this team toward a functional future. Jackson has proven me wrong in the past during his Knicks tenure, but this surely is a sign of things to come and that is frightening.

All stats used were courtesy of Basketball Reference.