As Kyrie Irving said two days ago in an interview, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in a peculiar place. Their potential signing of Derrick Rose, perhaps not the earth-shattering piece of transfer it would have been a few years ago, might not be enough to take them out of this unique state of existence. It’s worth mentioning that the Los Angeles Lakers are also in the picture per ESPN.
The Cavaliers are in weird spot because it seems Dan Gilbert doesn’t think that paying so much money on luxury tax (close to $80 million this season) can get him anywhere. LeBron James might think that the blame on the Cavaliers not being in a position to improve and chase the Golden State Warriors is on Gilbert, but he forced the team to sign Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith to cap-crippling contracts. Gilbert did his own set of bad decisions by firing David Griffin and dismantling the front office during free agency.
But the Cavaliers are trying to piece things together so next season is another one in which they’re the dominant force in the East. Rose has remained off team’s shortlists after a disappointing season with the Knicks. However, he did average 18 points per game last season, and has drawn interest from the Minnesota Timberwolves among other teams. It might be more a matter of price than a lack of needs for his services. It’s been six years since his MVP, but Rose is still a very capable player that deserves a place in this league.
In terms of money, which the Cavaliers can’t afford to spend a lot of, Rose is probably being offered a minimum deal. This is someone who has made $21.3 million last season, but things change quickly in the NBA. Rose is no longer thought of as a franchise player, nor as a point guard that fits the kind of basketball most teams envision. A slasher who doesn’t slash as well as before, with disinterested defense a lot of possessions and less than willing passing skills isn’t in high demand in the NBA – not for a starting, big money role.
How does he fit in the Cavs plans? One thing Rose brings to the Cavaliers or any team that takes him is the ability to create. Last month we wrote about the Cavaliers taking the wrong approach in their attempts to chase the Warriors – dreaming of adding superstars instead of adding players who can make plays and defend. Rose coming off the bench to give Kyrie Irving some rest, to give LeBron James minutes when he doesn’t need to be with the ball, and overall give the team someone an offense needs to worry about off the dribble; that’s something the Cavaliers desperately need, even if he isn’t ideal because of his defense.
Rose coming off the bench has 6th man of the year potential, unless his role is extremely limited. A Kyrie-Rose backcourt is also intriguing for super small ball lineups, which I guess can work against certain matchups. It’s a lot better than adding Deron Williams, that’s for sure.
Gone are the days of Rose pulling off dunks like these, but he can be a very dangerous weapon on the Cavaliers, and give him career some purpose on a team with championship aspirations, next to superstars who can complement him and vice versa. Is this the signing that puts Cleveland on level terms with Golden State? No. However, considering their options, signing someone like Rose on a minimum contract would be a much-needed with for the 2016 NBA champions.