Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks traded Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant to the Chicago Bulls for Justin Holiday, a 2017 second round pick, and Derrick Rose. This is a trade that might be intriguing to a casual Knicks fan and terrifying to a seasoned Knicks fan.
On the surface, this is a classic Knicks trade: acquire an all-star who is past his prime. We can go over the list (Larry Johnson, Glen Rice, Antonio Mcdyess, Stephon Marbury, Penny Hardaway, Steve Francis, Jalen Rose, Amar’e Stoudemire, Chauncey Billups, Tracy McGrady, Baron Davis, Mike Bibby, Jason Kidd, and Rasheed Wallace), but it is way too depressing and non-relatable to this trade. Contrary to the pessimistic beliefs of suffering Knicks fans, Phil Jackson actually did an outstanding job with this trade.
Believe it or not, Rose is only 27 years old, and he is coming off his first season without a knee injury since he first injured it in 2012. No matter how you feel about Rose’s deteriorated knees, inconsistent jump shot, and bad defense, it really doesn’t matter in the long run. Rose is entering his final year of his contract at $21 million. This means that Rose could blow out his knee in the first week of the season, just like Mcdyess, but still be a valuable asset due to his expiring deal.
Expect Rose to play extremely well if healthy, considering he is in a contract season. The worst possible scenario out of this acquisition is that Rose hurts himself, the Knicks don’t resign him, and have an extra $21 million to bid on free agents like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, Dennis Schroeder, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, Serge Ibaka, and Andre Iguodala.
The argument that this was a bad trade.
The Knicks had to give up Robin Lopez, who is making around $13 million a year, which is a pretty valuable contract for a starting center, especially since future contracts for starting centers are going to be a lot more with the cap rising.
I was actually happy when the Knicks signed Lopez, because they were desperate for a solid rim protector who knows his role and doesn’t need the ball to be effective. However, as Kristaps Porzingis put on the best Knicks rookie campaign since Patrick Ewing, I realized that he was put onto planet earth to be a modern NBA center, due to his length, athleticism, and ability to shoot.
I wrote about Porzingis’ ability to change the state of small ball in detail here. Porzingis should be starting at center with Carmelo Anthony at power forward, especially since Jeff Hornacek is going to implement a high tempo offense. A Porzingis and Derrick Rose pick and pop has the potential to be deadly against centers who are not adept at guarding the perimeter.
Another downside to this trade was the loss of Jerian Grant. He didn’t get enough chances his rookie season, and he was a terrible fit, playing in a tortoise slow offense. If Grant is put in the right situation with a fast tempo and shooters around him, he can turn into a solid NBA point guard. Not to mention he’s longer than most point guards in the league and still has the quickness to keep up with the best of them on the defensive end. Jerian Grant will be missed.
Cap room is important when you’re rebuilding, and we should all be looking at Derrick Rose as cap room for right now. The 2011 MVP has a lot to prove, and he’s always portrayed himself as a hard worker who loves the game, he just has historically bad luck with his injuries. Enough with the injury jokes at Rose’s expense, because they’re not funny. The guy gives it his all, and he’s not Eddy Curry, a guy who doesn’t take care of his body; he simply had bad luck.
The good news for any pessimistic Knicks fans is that if Rose gets hurt or ends up being really bad at basketball this season, the Knicks have a first round draft pick, and $21 million extra dollars to go on a spending spree in 2017 free agency. The other good news is that Jose Calderon is not the starting point guard of the New York Knicks anymore. Good job, Phil Jackson, now let’s bid on some defensive minded wings in free agency instead of Dwight Howard!