It’s a busy week in the NBA and there were some big doings: the Chicago Bulls traded former MVP Derrick Rose and some table scraps to the New York Knicks for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant. It’s the official end of an era for the Bulls and the team’s Chicago born-and-bred former superstar, one that started promising and ended in a string of devastating injuries and intra-squad squabbling between Rose and backcourt mate Jimmy Butler.
Reactions to the trade have been mixed, so to help bring some perspective to the trade, we’re bringing in 2 Knicks fans, 2 Bulls fan and a non-partisan observer to opine. First up, the Knicks:
Mike Mulraney: I’m very excited for cap space and a draft pick. I’m excited for the New York papers to have their back pages lined up. I’m excited for memes on Twitter, but I am not excited for Derrick Rose. Rose can’t stay healthy. I’m not sure that he fits into the triangle offense that Phil is slavishly devoted to. Rose, Kristaps Porzingis, and Carmelo running the triangle with the chance for a Dwight Howard kicker. Catch the fever.
Dan Murphy: I know what all Knicks fans are thinking in light of this trade: “Here we go again. Same ole’ Knicks. Nothing ever changes. I want pizza.” I don’t blame a fan-base hardwired to repeat the same mistakes for defaulting to these opinions, but in this case, only one of those sentiments is valid (it’s the pizza one).
No, this is not the same ole’ short-sighted, stupid Knicks trade. This trade is a special kind of short-sighted and stupid.
This trade is short-sighted because of what the Knicks gave up. New York makes a habit of trading draft picks and promising young players for overpaid vets, but that’s not the problem with dealing Jerian Grant. There is very little chance that Grant develops into a top 15 starting point guard given his shooting woes, and tales of his defensive prowess coming into the league were vastly overstated. Trading Grant is short-sighted because he fits into new head coach Jeff Hornacek’s offensive philosophy of running the floor as much as possible, which no other ball-handlers on the roster are equipped to facilitate, save possibly for Tony Wroten…who the Knicks promptly waived within an hour of the trade taking place. It’s short-sighted because, on a roster overloaded with big men, they gave up their only capable traditional center in Robin Lopez. With one hand, Phil eschews the youth and potential of Grant and Wroten. With the other, he thrusts Kyle O’Quinn into the potential starting lineup with no safety net behind him. This points to rudderless leadership.
This trade is stupid because of what the Knicks got back. If Derrick Rose is terrific, he will hit the free agent market after the season as the cap takes another leap upward. In the much more likely scenario in which he is the Rose of the last five years, then the Knicks dumped Grant and RoLo for nothing. Perhaps even worse, the roster hole created by RoLo’s absence leads to potential replacements like Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah or, in the doomsday-therefore-most-likely scenario, Dwight Howard…you know, more overpaid, over-the-hill vets. With one hand, Phil hands the keys of the franchise to Kristaps Porzingis. With the other, he clogs the roster expensive, faded stars. This points to rudderless leadership.
So yes, I hate this trade, but to say this a typical Knicks-ian move would be shortchanging how bad this move truly is. The only vision this front office has comes to Phil on Day Four of his peyote binges in Montana.
Now, the Bulls:
I’m OK with Derrick Rose being traded. The injuries, inconsistency and his attitude last season make a fresh start for him and the team imperative. The bigger part of is that by picking up Robin Lopez for the next 3 year, it effectively means Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol aren’t coming back. This means that the team that was a top-5 team in the East just 6 months ago is planning on dwelling in the basement for a while. Going from Thibs-era contender to management darling Hoiberg-era trash reminds me of the switch from Phil to Tim Floyd in 1999. Those teams were terrible, this one will be too, especially if they trade Jimmy Butler, literally the only good player left on the current roster.
Joe Shahen: I love Derrick Rose, but this is his last chance to bounce back. I hope to see Rose bloom in the Garden, but if he doesn’t start the year strong, it’s never going to happen and he’ll be run out of town. This is good for the Knicks since it is a contract year, so Rose could play really hard. If he sucks ass and gets hurt, the Knicks can just cut ties at the end of the season. With the extra scrutiny of the NY media I am worried for him. He’ll get roasted if he sucks.
The prospect of a Kristaps Porzingis-Carmelo Anthony-Derrick Rose lineup with Jeff Hornacek’s offense in NY is excellent. I hope they add Joakim Noah rather than Dwight Howard, though. They could be a fun team. Definitely fun in NBA 2K. As for Chicago, I’m stunned the Bulls traded Rose, but this is good for all parties. The Bulls are a dumpster fire and getting out of there can only be a positive. The Bulls collapsed last year and need to blow everything up. Rose’s massive salary and insistence on being the guy are detrimental to that process.
It will be interesting to see if Rose tries to prove he’s still MVP Rose (he isn’t) or tries to fit in the system since he’s joining Melo’s team. Rose started to play pretty well in the second half of last season. I am optimistic this change of scenery will be exactly what Rose needs to complete his return and become a high level player again, but I worry his unshakable confidence and unwillingness to change his game will be his downfall.
And now, our third-party observer:
Why not? Why not roll the dice on this? Rose only has one year left on his deal. Either he plays poorly and you cut him loose and have cap space for 2017, he plays exceptionally well and returns to 80% of his former self, or he is a solid starting point guard and you resign him after this year for a salary more in line with a serviceable guy than a star. What were the other great plans? Who else was clamoring to become a Knick? This is fun. It will be a great story-line all year. They only need to win like 13 games to make the playoffs. I predict that when we one day watch a greatest hits Youtube video of all of the dumbest things Phil Jackson has done, this will not be on there. At worst, this seems defensibly misguided.
So, there you have it. Knicks fans, inured to consistent failure, see this as just one more disaster in a long line of them. Bulls fans, resigned to the rebuilding process, see this as the first step to the lottery for a while. The unaffiliated see this as the Knicks at least being interesting. We shall see.