The Sober Thoughts on the Knicks/Bulls Trade
Last week, just before the draft the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls made a huge splash. The Knicks got Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday and a 2017 2nd round pick, and in exchange, the Bulls got Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant and Robin Lopez.
There has been a lot of reaction to this trade. Although not official, it is pretty much a done deal barring an epic calamity. Everything from praise to widespread criticism has been given to both teams for this trade by experts.
As for I?
I have shifted back and forth on what I think about this trade. While I pride myself on not giving a definitive winner on trades and being a semi-rational sports fan, sometimes there are winners and losers. Sometimes there are pros and cons to every decision and this trade is no different. A team won and a team lost this trade. That is fact, but what has not been dissected is why.
Why did the Knicks make this trade? Why did Chicago make this trade? This is a question I will attempt to answer in this article.
Let’s first look at why this deal made sense:
The Bulls have decided to go in a different direction and it is a good idea. Their team was full of talent, but they did not fit well together and it showed. Thus they need to commit to their change in philosophy and this is a clear way to send that message of commitment.
The Knicks feel that they cannot go into rebuild mode with the likes of Carmelo Anthony at their disposal. They need to put talent around Melo before it is too late and I agree. Rebuilding a roster while Melo is around is just plain dumb and trading him is an admission of failure. The Knicks do have two things at their disposal: the city’s reputation and the money. Bringing in Derrick Rose can entice other players to come to New York and build another “Big Three” that players seem to like so much.
The pros and cons for each team:
Chicago Bulls Pros
Going through with a full rebuild
I think this is an indication that the Bulls are tired of middling. Every year analysts convince you that the Bulls could surprise a LeBron James team in the playoffs and every year they either get a beat down by LeBron James, or in some cases, not even make it to LeBron James. Even when Derrick Rose was the MVP and the Bulls went all the way to the Conference Finals, only to get beat in 5 to the Miami Heat. This trade signals that the Bulls want to go back to the drawing board in the worst way and reclaim former glory.
Giving up on Derrick Rose
I think the reason why the trade was so intriguing was the prospect of Derrick Rose. There is still this feeling of "maybe" with Derrick Rose. Maybe Derrick Rose can return to MVP form; maybe he will get a second wind and push through? The problem is when a sports franchise keeps a maybe in their mind, it does not allow the team to move on and get better. The Bulls have gone through this song and dance with Derrick Rose and the fact is that each time he is not healthy. To be fair to the Bulls, Derrick Rose still shows athleticism to push through but his confidence in his body is a little off. However, I think for the Chicago Bulls it is time to turn the page on Derrick Rose. Rose inadvertently prevented the Bulls from evolving because the team hoped he can return to form. Fact is he has not returned to form and the Bulls need to evolve so trade him made sense.
Chicago Bulls Cons
Typically the one thing that a team should trade for if they want to start a rebuild is picks. So imagine my surprise that in this deal the team who got the pick is the team who is not in rebuild mode. The Bulls really missed the boat on this one. Derrick Rose is a former MVP in this league and you are telling me you could not get a 1st round pick for him? Now to be fair, the New York Knicks are not exactly armed with picks (I say with a smile in my Toronto home) but the Bulls just gave away a solid piece of their team and received no picks in return. To me this is an absolute travesty by the Bulls front office.
None of the players acquired have an upside
Believe me when I say that Jose Calderon is a mentor and a class act of a human being, however, Calderon is 34. His time as an NBA player is coming to an end. Robin Lopez is not a bad player but he’s not an All-star. Also in terms of upside, Lopez is already in the prime years of his career at 28 and has shown signs of regression rather than improvement. Leaving Jerian Grant’s 5.6 points per game off the bench as the only player in this deal for the Bulls who can grow into a player. Grant can very well turn into a good player; perhaps even an all-star, but I doubt it. Thus, a team that is rebuilding just gave away one of their best pieces for players who either cannot be molded into all-stars or are players unlikely to become All-Stars. The Chicago Bulls front office at its finest.
New York Knicks Pros
At worst Derrick Rose allows for a second scoring option, at best… look out
Derrick Rose can still score in this league and thus the pressure on Carmelo Anthony to carry the Knicks all by himself is lifted to an extent. If Rose can find some of his 2011 mojo, then this could potential be a dangerous combo. Now the question is can Rose find it? I say yes he can. Now sometimes stats are meaningless but one of the stats that caught my eye was Rose’s improvement each month up until the start of March. Rose improved steadily with each month, going from 13.7 points per game in October to 21.9 points per game in February. Now of course we all know what happened in March and April, however, the point is that Rose could possibly turn the clock this year. Even if Derrick Rose is 2015 Derrick Rose, you will get a guy who will play 65-70 games a year and average 16-17 points a game on 43% shooting; not bad
This further entices other players to come to New York
Say what you will about the way the Knicks shoot themselves in the foot, but they may be on to something here. The New York Knicks have money to spend and the reputation of New York at their disposal. With that being said, due to the Knicks being losers on and off the court, the Knicks have been unable to snag the big name in recent years. With acquiring Derrick Rose, it sends a message that the Knicks are serious about winning games and makes the New York Knicks hunt for Kevin Durant all the more attainable.
New York Knicks Cons
Rose is damaged goods
Here’s the facts; Derrick Rose has not played 70 games or more since 2011, has not averaged 20 points or more since 2012, and has not made an All-Star or All-NBA team since 2011-2012 season. That was a long time ago. While I do not think that this is such a big gamble - considering that the Knicks did not give up much - it is still a gamble. There is a high potential that Rose trade can blow up in the New York Knicks' face and then acquiring the 2011 MVP would be for nothing.
Melo and Rose can possibly go horribly wrong
Although a couple paragraphs ago, I was on all on-board for how well this could go, but this could also go wrong. There is a growing feeling among basketball experts that Carmelo Anthony really is not that good and does not make teammates better. While I think this notion is a little short sighted, I do think that there is reason to question Carmelo Anthony. While full of talent, he may very well not compliment Rose’s talents at all. To top it all off, it is not like Carmelo Anthony has been the NBA’s picture of health in the last couple of years. In the 2014-2015 season, Melo only played 40 games and is getting older now at 32. There is a pretty reasonable chance that both Melo and Rose could get injured this season. From the Knicks perspective, that is the absolute worst thing that can happen and to be honest it is pretty possible it could happen.
Who won the trade?
The New York Knicks.
The Knicks got a pick, a solid piece in Derrick Rose and actually gained cap space. The Bulls on the other hand are supposedly rebuilding but have not gained a pick, and lost cap space. Not only that, the Knicks did not actually give up much of the future either and are now bigger players in the “Kevin Durant Sweepstakes”. Do I think the Knicks will get Durant? Not really; however, it helps the New York Knicks this season. With all that being said, even if the New York Knicks do not make another move, the Knicks did get better in this trade.