18 points per game, 4.4 assists per game, shooting 47.1% from the field. Based on that stat line alone, it would seem Derrick Rose had a pretty good season in 2016-2017, his first and only on the New York Knicks. But those who watched him play and followed him over the course of last season, know it wasn’t a good campaign, nor did Rose enjoy his time in the Big Apple.
Rose, almost 29, is about to begin his 9th NBA season. It should be his 10th, but he missed the entire 2012-2013 season after the devestating knee injury he suffered from in the 2012 NBA playoffs. He has had four knee surgeries since entering the league, the last of which at the end of last season after a minor tear in his meniscus was discovered. The Knicks weren’t too disheatened about shutting him down for the season, and Rose was happy to move on.
For someone who never liked being too far away from his hometown of Chicago, Rose certainly picked (he didn’t choose New York in 2016; he was traded there) somewhere close. He signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers on a deal worth $2.1 million, the veteran’s minimum. That sum is difficult to grasp. Rose made over $20 million last season. He was the MVP in 2011. He put up nice numbers last year. But there weren’t fat, multiyear offers waiting for him during the offseason.
Rose is not going to be a backup point guard for the Cavaliers, at least not for the first three months of the season. Isaiah Thomas is out until 2018, which means Rose will start in the backcourt next to Dwyane Wade and play plenty of minutes alongside LeBron James. Rose is suddenly going to be asked to do more than attack the basket and shoot mid-range jumpers. The Cavaliers shoot a lot of 3’s, and Rose, according to the words coming out of their training camp, is adjusting. He’s a 29.8% shooter for his career, making under 22% of his shots from beyond the arc last season. But he’ll get more open looks, and won’t have to rely on his ability to create his own shot as much as he used to.
Rose should enjoy himself more than in New York. Playing on a team that thinks about championships, playing alonside Wade and James. Less pressure, more IQ around him. This won’t be an opportunity for Rose to play like his old, 2008-2012 self again. It’ll be an opportunity for him to reinvent himself. To carve a new niche for himself in this league, whether off the bench or in the lineup, and set himself up for the next few years in the league, and hopefully for him a long term deal, instead of jumping from one-year stint to the next.
Rose was once the big hope of Chicago basketball, a promise he began to deliver on. But things turned sour – injuries and his relationship with the team as well as key teammates, if you believe the rumors. Playing on the Knicks these days is always a bad thing to do, at least during the Phil Jackson tenure. Rose is probably in a better position right now to put his career back on the right track. His numbers won’t matter as much, especially when they’re expected to go down, if he looks like he’s enjoying himself and actually gives a f*** about what’s happening around him.