The point guard position was a bit of a weak spot for the New York Knicks last season. Well, that’d be a charitable way to put it, anyway. Another would be: the Knicks’ point guards got totally and completely outproduced on a nightly basis last season, with starter Jose Calderon unable to break down opponents off the dribble or stay in front of them on defense, and young backups Langston Galloway and Jerian Grant unable to consistently hit jumpers or facilitate in the Knicks’ triangle half-court offense. The Knicks added former Memphis and Philadelphia live wire Tony Wroten last year, but he’ll be coming off a torn ACL and has yet to establish himself as a consistent top-flight answer.
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Despite Chauncey Billups’ insistence that no top triggerman will want to work in the triangle, and president of basketball operations Phil Jackson’s insistence that he won’t chase one, with new head coach Jeff Hornacek looking at add some punch to an attack that ranked 26th among 30 NBA teams in points scored per possession last season, New York finds itself in need of a point guard.
“If we can find a middle guy to bridge [Calderon and Grant], it would be good,” Hornacek said earlier this month, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. “There’s a lot of guys out there. I’m sure Phil and Steve [Mills, general manager] are looking at everything.’’
It appears some in the organization would like to start with perhaps the most famous name that might be available, according to Ian Begley of ESPN New York:
The New York Knicks are looking to upgrade their backcourt, and one player on their radar is Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose.
The Knicks have had internal discussions recently about trading for Rose, league sources tell ESPN.
The Bulls’ interest in trading Rose, 27, is unknown at this point. The Knicks do not have many strong trade chips outside of Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and future first-round draft picks.
Begley’s report comes on the heels of a note from Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders that claimed the Bulls are “actively open to moving Rose” this summer:
Rose is entering the final year of his deal and has commented numerous times on the ballooning salary cap and his next contract, much to the dismay of the Bulls front office and a large number of Bulls fans. Add that to an on-again, off-again intensity and there is a sense that both sides would welcome a change, especially with Rose entering a free agent year.
At this point, it’s unclear which teams (if anyone) has made a real offer for Rose, especially given his $21.3 million salary. But it was said a few times that the name being talked about most among teams and scouts in Italy was not [All-Star Jimmy] Butler, but rather Rose and there is a sense that a team that misses on a starting-caliber point guard in free agency may turn to the Bulls.
It also comes after the Bulls on Friday made a trade with the Detroit Pistons, adding to their backcourt mix by picking up young guard Spencer Dinwiddie in exchange for young big man Cameron Bairstow.
On one hand, giving up anything of value for to pay $21.3 million for a player who has missed 196 games over the last four years due to various injuries, who averaged a relatively pedestrian 16.4 points and 4.7 assists in 31.8 minutes per game, who shot under 43 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range, who didn’t exactly cover himself in glory on the defensive end, and in whose minutes Chicago generally performed worse than when he was on the bench, doesn’t seem to make very much sense. On the other, “relatively pedestrian” probably still would’ve made Rose the Knicks’ best on-ball option last season, and likely by leaps and bounds.
With only one year left on his deal, you can see the argument for taking a flyer on the 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player as a means of bridging the gap to the summer of 2017, when a Knicks club flush with cap space — especially in an environment where the cap just seems set to keep going up and up over the next couple of seasons — might be able to go big-game hunting for the long-hoped-for point guard of the future to pair with rising star Kristaps Porzingis. With the Memphis Grizzlies’ Mike Conley standing as the pick of the free-agent litter and relatively few appealing options beneath him — it seems extraordinarily unlikely that Jeremy Lin’s coming back for Round 2 in the Garden; I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that Deron Williams wants no part of a return to Gotham; a Rajon Rondo marriage doesn’t seem like a “good look” for either party — the Knicks’ best chance at landing a better present-day option without sacrificing future flexibility might be to pursue a high-priced veteran on an expiring contract. Rose is just that.
From the Bulls’ perspective, moving on from Rose would mean closing the book on an era that produced some of the best regular-season basketball in the franchise’s post-Michael Jordan age, but that always ended short of a return to the promised land, thanks in large part to the injuries that derailed Rose’s rise to the ranks of the league’s most unguardable thunderbolts, and turned him, even at just 27 years old, into a never-quite-right whisper of a rumor of what once was and might have been. Luol Deng’s long gone. Tom Thibodeau is, too. Joakim Noah will likely be next. Whatever the next competitive iteration of the Bulls is, it likely won’t feature Derrick Rose … so if you can move him while there’s still some value to be derived from his status and contract, and maybe pick up a future pick for your trouble, there’s some sense to that. Then again, as Seth Rosenthal of Knicks blog Posting and Toasting notes, the Knicks might be the ones demanding draft consideration if they’re doing Chicago the solid of taking $21.3 million in salary off their hands.
It is worth noting, as Bulls radio play-by-play man Chuck Swirsky does, that “internal discussions” don’t necessarily amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world:
… but rumblings about the Bulls’ summertime plans starting to grow louder, the Knicks likely searching for an upgrade at the point, and New York forever so, so thirsty for the next big name who just might fix everything!, it’s at the very least a situation that bears watching as we move through next Thursday’s NBA draft to the beginning of free agency in July.
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