Culture of Hoops

The Derrick Rose Trade Was Not a Disaster

Screen capture courtesy of the NBA/YouTube.

Screen capture courtesy of the NBA/YouTube.

The Derrick Rose era in New York is (hopefully) over. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical broke news Sunday that Rose had a torn meniscus in his left knee, ending his season. Rose will prep for yet another surgery and six-to-eight weeks of rehab. He is a free agent this summer and will now limp into the open market once the New York Knicks renounce his rights.

He finishes the season averaging 18.0 points, 4.4 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting 47 percent from the field. The cynics now get to say they told you so as Rose faces a final crossroad in his career. The greatest fear with Rose was his destiny to become this generation’s Penny Hardaway.

It’s hard not to watch how Rose tore his meniscus and not think Penny 2.0.

Assuming this was his first and last season as a Knick, Rose lived the full Knicks life. He came to New York with optimism and left defeated. (You can copy and paste that for any high-profile player that came to the Knicks including Carmelo Anthony this summer.) In his debut press conference, Rose declared that the Knicks were a super team. He went through a rape trial. He even went missing – like Dave Chappelle went missing – for 24 hours.

The sad thing is that Rose proved that he still had something left to give an NBA team before he got hurt. No matter how hard Jeff Hornacek or even Rose tried, it was always a square peg in a round hole type of feel. The Knicks, who have tried and failed miserably to win while rebuilding, needed a floor general. Rose was never that nor did he ever try to be.

Rose is a gunslinger in football terms. He likes to shoot and will keep shooting regardless of the results. That irrational confidence is welcome, but not at the well-being of the team or in the Knicks’ case, the well-being of Kristaps Porzingis. For what it’s worth, Rose was able to score at a decent clip this season averaging 27.6 points per 100 possessions according to Basketball-Reference.

What he will have to come to terms with this summer is that his body clearly won’t allow him to be a starter anymore. That does not mean he should retire. On a good team, Rose would make for a great sixth man. In that role he would be asked to do what he loves and does best – score. No defense, no passing, just score.

For Phil Jackson and the Knicks, it would appear that the Rose trade was a big flop. Well it actually wasn’t. Rose was a tremendous tank guy. He produced more headlines than notable moments on the court. It’s still not confirmed whether he deliberately ignored Porzingis in crunch time or if he simply had a bad case of tunnel vision. What is confirmed is that his hero ball ended up being the best thing to happen to the Knicks for all the wrong reasons.

Sometimes the best things happen when you least expect them. No one is sure what Jackson expected from Rose other than to speed up the offense, but his acquisition coupled with the Joakim Noah signing (that move is just plain bad and should be any reason to truly call Jackson a moron) set the team up to tank for yet another loaded draft class.

(I’m shocked Jackson hasn’t tried to push the story that he devised genius plans for Knicks to indirectly tank in two of the best draft classes this decade. Phil, dump Charley Rosen I’m your guy.)

Assuming the Knicks end draft night with a point guard of the future – right now Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. look to be the choices that will be available barring some serious lottery luck – then this nightmare was all worth it. And that’s not even mentioning the addition of Justin Holiday.

Yes, the throw-in ended up being the best piece of the trade. Holiday has already proven he is worthy of keeping around. He was one of the team’s best defenders on the wing. On offense, he proved capable of hitting a three or finishing at the rim (61.6 percent from inside three feet). Alongside Lance Thomas and Ron Baker, Holiday is the type of lunch pale player every good team needs to succeed.

Holiday’s stats don’t pop off the screen, but they are solid given he averages a little under 20 minutes a night (19.3 to be exact). In that limited role, Holiday is averaging 18.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks per 100 possessions with a true shooting percentage of 54.4. On defense he can guard 1 thru 3 thanks to his Gumby frame.

That frame also helps him pull down boards like a forward. He ranks first among Knick guards in rebounding percentage (13.0) and second in steal percentage (2.0) among players that have played more than 500 minutes right behind Baker.

His “worst” moment of the season was technically a positive for the team. He played a great fourth quarter against the Heat in Miami last Friday, a game in which the Knicks won. The stat line was nothing special (12 points, four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block), but he played within his limits and delivered when he needed to – whether it was a bucket, stop, or rebound.

Holiday is also set to hit the open market in the summer. At 27 years old, he is certainly worth extending. Right now his cap hit is a smidge north of a million per Spotrac. He figures to get a raise, fetching a contract similar to Thomas with an average salary within the one to five million per year range. The forgotten step in rebuilding a team is building the bench with solid supporting players. Holiday fits that role to a tee.

So when Knicks fans remember Derrick Rose, they should try and remember everything. Sure he was not the point guard the Knicks desperately needed. Sure his overall tenure was a dumpster fire filled with more headlines than wins. But, Rose played a key role in following God’s plan to make the Knicks great again. Everything has to burn to the ground before we are able to build, Rose was quite a molotov cocktail. If all works out, Holiday, and the second-round pick that came along for the ride, could prove to be welcome splashes of water to extinguish the flames.

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