To understand the New York Knicks' decision to acquire Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, you have to stop thinking of what Rose used to be. Stop thinking of him as an electrifying force of nature, as an MVP.
If that were still the case, the deal would've been dead sooner than Gar Forman could've hung up the phone on Steve Mills. Or John Paxson on his former coach, Phil Jackson, for that matter.
Rose, now 27 and ravaged by injury after injury, is no longer that player. And that's the beauty of how and why some NBA trades get done.
Rose is an opportunity -- a gamble worth taking for a franchise that is trying not to squander the remainder of Carmelo Anthony's prime -- with zero long-term risk.
It's going to be painted as yet another example of the Knicks, no matter of who's in charge, being incapable of avoiding their perpetual chase for big names and shiny objects. But the reality is, Rose isn't nearly as shiny as he used to be. With with one year and $23 million left on his contract, there's really no downside other than James Dolan's dollars.
Either Rose recaptures some of his old powers in his contract year, or he doesn't. Where were the Knicks going with Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon this season anyway?
The deal, which also sent Justin Holiday and a 2017 second-round pick to New York, had been percolating for a couple of weeks, league sources told CBS Sports. Mills and Jackson on the Knicks' side and Forman and Paxson from Chicago's point of view were all involved.
And the move fits the pedigree of the Knicks' new coach, Jeff Hornacek, who thrived as a player in Utah with a dominant point guard (John Stockton) and liked to play that way when he coached in Phoenix (though the front office gave him too many of them).
Rose may not be the point guard he once was, but there will be no question who the Knicks' floor leader will be next season -- as long as Rose can stay healthy. He's managed to play more than 51 games only once in the past four seasons. That was last season, when his production dipped to barely above replacement level.
That means Derrick Rose, once the MVP of the league, was basically a backup point guard who started for the Bulls last season. No wonder they didn't make the playoffs.
Which brings us to why the deal makes sense for the Bulls, too. "A no brainer," one person plugged into the Chicago decision-making process said Wednesday.
For two years, the Bulls have been moving in the direction of turning the team over to Jimmy Butler. This past season proved why they were ready to make it official.
Of the 77 point guards who played at least 500 minutes last season, Rose ranked 66th in true-shooting percentage, 69th in 3-point percentage and 55th in free-throw attempts -- a dead giveaway that he can't attack the way he once did. He was below average in assists per 36 minutes, and the Bulls were outscored by an average of 4.2 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor.
But from the Bulls' perspective, it isn't simply addition by subtraction. In a free-agent summer when Bismack Biyombo will get a deal starting at $20 million a year, the Bulls will have a legitimate starting center in Lopez, 28, under contract for three more years on a deal that never touches $15 million. They liked Grant in the draft last year, so they view that part of the deal as though they're acquiring a first-round pick. Calderon, 34, is a steady veteran with a $7.8 million expiring contract.
And if they weren't going to give Rose a long-term deal at the max next summer, why wait a year just to wave goodbye?
Instead, Rose says hello to New York, where speculation already is rampant that former teammate Joakim Noah could be next. An unrestricted free agent, Noah fell out of favor with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. He's from New York and is close with both Rose and Anthony.
As for Rose, his new coach could barely contain himself Wednesday. In the Knicks press release, Hornacek called Rose "one of the top point guards in the NBA who is playoff-battle-tested. He adds a whole new dynamic to our roster and immediately elevates our backcourt."
Wrong on the first count. If Rose were still one of the top point guards in the NBA, this trade never would've been made and I wouldn't be writing this column. Sometimes, circumstances conspire to create the perfectly harmless NBA trade that makes sense for everybody.
Especially a former MVP.