The rumors of this deal had been picking up steam over the past 48 hours, and on Super Bowl Sunday the trigger was pulled on the trade.
Derrick Rose will be reunited with Tom Thibodeau; New York agreed to a trade to acquire Rose for Dennis Smith Jr. and a second-round pick, a deal confirmed by multiple reports.
It’s easy to see why the Pistons make this trade: They save money, they get a second-round pick in the upcoming draft (likely in the mid-40s), and they get a look at Smith to decide if they want to keep him around next season (Smith makes $5.7 million and the Pistons can make him a restricted free agent if they want with a $7.7 million qualifying offer).
It’s also not hard to see why the Knicks would make this trade: After a faster-than-expected 11-13 start New York is thinking play-in games/playoffs — and Rose brings another quality scorer and shot creator to the mix. The Knicks got better, and Rose is on a $7.7 million expiring contract.
But there is a balancing act Thibodeau and the Knicks need to maintain.
New York might have found its point guard of the future in Immanuel Quickley, but he is already fighting to get minutes behind Elfrid Payton as Thibodeau has leaned on his veteran. Whether or not that is good for winning in the short term (how much Payton helps winning is up for debate), New York has to be thinking longer-term, bigger picture about getting Quickley — and RJ Barrett, and Obi Toppin, and other young players — run so they can learn from their mistakes and grow.
Now the Knicks just added another veteran to the rotation.
Thibodeau has given the young Knicks a fair amount of burn this season, even if that does not fit his reputation. The concern is this moves plays to his short-term tendencies rather than forcing his hand to focus on the bigger picture. If Quickley’s minutes suddenly drop in favor of more Rose, that is old-school Knicks short-term thinking. Exactly the kind of thing new president Leon Rose was brought in to change.
For the playoff push, however, the Knicks got better. And Thibodeau and Rose have a long history of success.
Thibodeau was the Bulls’ coach and helped develop Rose when Chicago first drafted him, ultimately guiding him to become MVP. Rose spent a lot of his career battling and recovering from injuries, but he has found a groove again the past couple of seasons. This season Rose has averaged 14.2 points in 22 minutes a game in Detroit, shooting 33.3% from three. Rose has taken a little step back this season in terms of efficiency, but he’s still a quality bench player.
Rose makes the Knicks a slightly bigger threat to make the playoffs this season, but that can’t come at the cost of Quickley’s development and future seasons. That is something to watch.