Inside a courtroom, on the basketball court, AWOL from his team or on the injured reserve; nothing about Derrick Rose’s first – and possibly only – season in a Knicks uniform reminded people of his prior success.
Regardless, many of Rose’s teammates in New York had experience playing alongside former NBA Most Valuable Players and felt the longtime Chicago Bull was still an effective player.
“I think he [Rose] is the same player he was [when he was MVP], he’s got the same quickness, he can go to the bucket anytime he wants, he can affect the game and he can change the game,” Knicks veteran guard Sasha Vujacic, who won two championships alongside Kobe Bryant, said to the Inquisitr last month.
“He’s got a lot of weapons and when you have a lot of weapons, he can do a lot of damage.”
Statistically, Rose’s season was in-line with his production since two major knee surgeries zapped him of his explosiveness. In 64 games, Rose posted 18.0 points, 4.4 assists, and a 47.1 percent field goal percentage in 32.5 minutes per game. He missed the Knicks’ final eight games after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee – the same knee that was repaired after he tore his ACL in the 2012 playoffs, forcing him to miss the entire 2012-13 season.
Entering free agency for the first time this offseason, Rose’s hope is that his latest knee ailment – which was repaired with arthroscopic surgery on April 5 and given a three to six week recovery period – won’t steer away suitors.
Knicks president Phil Jackson indicated at last Friday’s bizarre press conference that the team has some mutual interest in a reunion with the oft-injured point guard.
“He expressed the fact that he wants to be back,” Jackson told reporters at the Knicks’ practice facility in Greenburgh, New York, last week via CBS Sports. “We talked about going through rehab and work and whatever he has to do, and he has chosen to go back to Chicago to do that. He will be in L.A. But he also took the time out to say he really enjoyed playing here even with the losses, which, of course, surprises us a little bit because he’s been on some very successful teams.
“But he said he wants to have a chance to redeem himself as a player. Which, I like that attitude. I like who Derrick represents as himself. He’s a warrior directed at taking on the big challenges.”
With the seventh overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, the Knicks do not figure to upgrade at point guard via the draft. The upcoming free agent class is thin at the position with Jrue Holliday being the Knicks’ sole feasible option; Stephen Curry and Chris Paul have opt-outs but do not figure to leave their current organizations.
Knicks reserve Justin Holiday played alongside and won a championship with Curry as part of the Warriors’ 2014-15 squad. The older brother of Jrue Holiday also played with Rose in Chicago last season and was traded to New York along Rose last offseason.
The 28-year-old noticed a sharp contrast between Rose’s Windy City exit and New York introduction.
“This year he’s healthier, he’s not as banged up as he was later year even though he played most of the season,” Holiday said to the Inquisitr a month before Rose went down with a season-ending knee surgery. “He’s healthy, always taking care of himself and his body is rewarding him.
“At times last year, you can tell sometimes he was banged up and he would let somebody else take over.”
Rose was 13th among NBA point guards who started 60-plus games this season, producing 107.3 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com. His defense, on the other hand, was a weak point as the University of Memphis product ranked 17th among point guards with 60-plus starts, allowing 111.1 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com. That makes Rose roughly a league average player.
A league average player; three knee surgeries since 2012; entering his age-29 season; and he missed 246 out of a possible 492 games since 2011.
Yet, as ESPN’s Ian Begley reported in January, Rose will seek a max deal this summer, which could fall in the range of five years, $150 million. It’s possible and likely season-ending surgery and off the court issues lowered Rose’s price tag. He faced a civil suit after his ex-girlfriend alleged that he and several friends raped her, and he went missing before a January 10 contest against the New Orleans Pelicans and was subsequently fined.
“Not even thinking money. I’ve got more than enough money saved. If I stopped playing basketball now, I’ll be all right,” Rose said to reporters in Utah before the Knicks suffered a 108-101 loss on March 22 via ESPN.
“I want to win. I want to be happy and feel at peace with myself wherever I’m at. But being at the negotiating table, you never know. I’m not going to negotiate with people where money is the No. 1 thing I’m asking for. I want to win.”
These comments coming from the same man who, less than two years ago, proclaimed he was waiting to receive his big payday in free agency.
Also: Win? Rose has never been part of a championship team and the Knicks haven’t won a title since 1973 or made the playoffs since 2012-13. Additionally, president Jackson is driving superstar Carmelo Anthony out of town and franchise linchpin Kristaps Porzingis – who criticized his on-court chemistry with Rose – is at odds with ownership.
The Knicks acquired a player who was once the youngest MVP in NBA history. Not only did Rose end LeBron James’ two-year stranglehold on the MVP award, he joined elite company, becoming the seventh player in NBA history to average at least 25 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.0 rebounds: Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Larry Bird, Dwyane Wade, and James being the others, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Now, almost seven years later, Rose’s MVP season has the appearance of an aberration rather than a perennial output.
Since the 1955-56 campaign, 61 MVP awards have been handed out and every player to win it from 1955-2001 is currently in the Hall of Fame. The list of players to win the award since 2001 is a decorated one:
- Tim Duncan (2001-02, 2002-03)
- Kevin Garnett (2003-04)
- Steve Nash (2004-05, 2005-06)
- Dirk Nowitzki (2006-07)
- Kobe Bryant (2007-08)
- LeBron James (2008-09, 2009-2010, 2011-12, 2012-13)
- Derrick Rose (2010-11)
- Kevin Durant (2013-14)
- Stephen Curry (2014-15, 2015-16)
Unlike all those players, all of whom are future Hall of Famers with a championship, Rose’s future is far less certain – despite the praise he receives from teammates.
“I see a lot of fight in him, I still see an explosive guard, I see a guard that nobody can stay in front of, and I see his tenacity. So to answer your question, yes I do still see that [MVP form] in him,” Knicks swingman Lance Thomas told the Inquisitr.
“He’s a killer; the way he’s played this year for us, he’s a dog. I’m happy with him.”
Thomas played with the Oklahoma City Thunder alongside former MVP Kevin Durant and the man he hopes wins the 2016-17 MVP award, Russell Westbrook. The Knicks’ swingman said that Rose and Westbrook are “probably the two people you don’t want to be guarding.”
However, the Knicks remain one of 30 NBA teams who does not want to overpay for the post-MVP portion of Rose’s career.
[Featured Image by Michael Reaves/Getty Images]