By Frank McLean
One day before the NBA draft the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls hooked up for the first big trade of the offseason.
The Knicks sent centre Robin Lopez, guards Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant to Chicago and in return, the Bulls sent guard Justin Holiday, the second pick in the 2017 draft and the big ticket item in the deal point guard Derrick Rose to New York.
Rose at 27 years of age is a former MVP and has one year left on his current contract at $21.3 million, but the knock on him is that he has a bad jump shot, can’t attack the hoop (any more) and does not play defense.
Oh and let’s not forget one important thing… He has a lingering bad knee.
When you look at the deal from the outside, this is just the latest dumb trade where the Knicks pickup another player who has bad wheels like Carmelo Anthony.
Rose first hurt his knee in the 2011-2012 season and when he came back, he had lost the speed he had when he came into the league.
The knee made him sit out the entire 2012-2013 season, play only 10 games in 2013-2014 and just a little more than half the games in 2014-2015, but at least this past season he was actually healthy enough to play in 66 of the Bulls 82 games.
For someone who the Bulls picked first overall in the 2008 draft, was the NBA rookie of the year and the 2010-2011 NBA MVP, the knee injury has made him a mere mortal.
In the first four years of his career he averaged 21 points and played in 89.4 percent of the Bulls games. Since then he has only averaged 16.9 points and only been able to suit up 38.7 percent of the time.
So when you look at his medical history you go great, he can’t stay healthy, hasn’t played a full season in over five years and if he gets hurt again and with Carmelo Anthony’s knee forcing him to miss time when the Knicks have to play on back-to-back nights, well this why this team keeps struggling.
This is a huge one-year gamble for Phil Jackson, and speaking of Jackson, he seems to be going against what he has said in the past.
First he wanted a coach who would worship his triangle offense. Then he hired Jeff Hornacek as his head coach. In the past Jackson has constantly told the media “I don’t need a point guard” – now he trades for Rose.
You wonder if someone other than Jackson is making these decisions? Like maybe Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan who thinks he is a basketball expert and the main reason the Knicks have stunk for the last 10 years or so.
The Knicks desperately want to make the playoffs this season. If this doesn’t work, they will be lucky to win 20 games.
However, there is an upside to this deal. The Knicks want to be a huge player in free agency next summer and getting the last three years of Lopez’s contract off the books, as well as Calderon and Grant, could leave them with just three players under contract and just $35 million in salaries when the salary cap is expected to be close to $110 million.
This future flexibility assumes Jackson (or Dolan) doesn’t wipe it out by signing guys (with issues) like Dwight Howard to a max deal this summer or maybe Rose’s former teammate and friend Joakim Noah who is coming back from injury.
Meanwhile over in Chicago the Bulls who finished ninth in the East and were supposed to be a major playoff player this year are shaking things up.
When Rose heard he was going to be shopped around in a trade he wanted to go to New York City. Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Wednesday the club was eager to add Lopez, who he said adds “toughness” to the Bulls roster.
“As we said at the end of last season, we are committed to exploring every option to improve this team,” Forman said. “This trade is a significant step in that process. Our goal is to get younger and more athletic, and this trade moves us in that direction and allows us to start changing the structure of our team. In Robin Lopez, we are acquiring a starting center who is a good defender, good rebounder, and brings a toughness to our team. Jose Calderon is a proven veteran who can run an offense and knock down threes. Jerian Grant was high on our draft board last year as someone with a great skill set and positional size. All three players are great teammates and have tremendous work ethic, and we are excited to welcome them to the Chicago Bulls organization.”
Forman’s comment about work ethic is the key phrase here, when I talked to members of the Chicago media who cover the Bulls they all said to man that work ethic was something the Bulls did not have.
So in a nut shell this a great deal for a Bulls team who are trying to rebuild and bring some much needed character to a roster that had none. In New York, this is another deal where it looks like the Knicks are trying to put together a fantasy league roster instead one that can win in the NBA.
Rose is also mired in a sex scandal set to go to trial when the NBA preseason starts in October as reported in the NY Daily News.
The Knicks aren’t just getting a perpetually injured former NBA MVP in the blockbuster deal that will bring Derrick Rose to New York − they are also getting yet another player mired in scandal.
U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald scheduled the trial for Oct. 4 − the same day the NBA’s preseason begins.
Veteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.