NBA Free Agency: The increasingly unusual case of Derrick Rose

Apr 23, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Former Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose attends the game during the second half in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Former Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose attends the game during the second half in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

Coming off his fourth knee surgery, the road ahead looks pretty rough for Derrick Rose. But is all hope lost?

It is said that for every up, there is a down. Every square, a round. Every high, a low. With no one is that more true than with Derrick Rose, though everything seems to be lows for him nowadays.

As much as you’d like to debate the statistical nature of his 2010-11 campaign, you can’t change the fact that Rose won was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player that season. A moment which is arguably the highest a 22-year old NBA player has ever been.

Rose ended the two-year MVP reign that was, at the time, held by LeBron James. He upended Wes Unseld as the youngest MVP in NBA history. He was the offensive driving force behind a team that went on to win 61 games and finished as the best team in the Eastern Conference, the first season in which LeBron teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.

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But he’s not that guy anymore.

His career has been plagued with injuries and now, at the age of 28, it appears as if Rose can’t get much lower. (Though that hasn’t seemed to affect his popularity, as he’s the 12th most popular jersey in the NBA, per

The once elite slashing guard, who nearly everyone believed had the potential to go on as one of the greatest players in Chicago Bulls history, is currently rehabbing the fourth knee surgery of his career. He’s unwanted not only by one of the worst franchises in the NBA, but at this point, by most teams in the league.

There’s just no need for him anymore. Why would there be; while his play on the court has drastically improved this season over years past, Rose isn’t really close to what he was when he won the MVP. He’s definitely not at the same level as the guys contending for this season’s MVP.

That’s not to say there’s no place for him in this league, it’s just that any interest teams possibly have for Rose would be significantly higher had he not been traded to the New York Knicks.

False sanctuaries are everywhere

Is there a place worse than “Basketball Hell”? For the NBA, apparently there is. And Derrick Rose would have probably liked to have known that prior to his trade to the New York Knicks. He definitely would’ve liked that insight before he paired his team with the Golden State Warriors as the two “Super Teams” in the NBA.

There’s no doubt that his time in Chicago had run out, but the Knicks were ultimately the worst-case scenario for a player was trying to – for lack of a better term – avoid his past.

Rose was joining a team whose front office was about to reach a level of nuclear proportions. Trust me, that’s not an understatement. The Knicks got really, really bad.

Former team President, Phil Jackson, who many refer to as the “Zen Master,” displayed nothing bur childish behavior toward the Knicks’ veterans, namely Carmelo Anthony. On-the-floor, New York never resembled the “Super Team” Rose hoped it would. Quite the opposite in fact. They’ve only won 30 games so far, good for fourth-worst in the Eastern Conference, and if I’m being completely honest…they’ve looked much better without their most experienced veterans (Rose, Melo, Joakim Noah and at one point, Brandon Jennings).

Jackson saw that at around the same time everyone else did, it’s just that he couldn’t stand the fact that things didn’t go the way he wanted/wants them to as soon as he wanted them.

Phil wanted to blow it all up to rebuild around Kristaps Porzingis. But hot damn, he really tried to blow it up. Every opportunity to he had to poison the situation, he took. All in an effort to drive Melo into waiving his no-trade clause so they could ship him off the Knicks.

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to criticize Phil Jackson and the Knicks front office being as how this is an article on Derrick Rose. All you need to know is that New York was arguably the worst run franchise in the NBA.

Neither Melo nor Rose are likely to be on this roster next season.

Trust me, that’s not all on the Knicks. At least, for Rose it’s not. Derrick Rose did enough on his own to tank his stock.

He left the team in January due to an undisclosed family matter, but he did so without any warning or heads up to the team. Thankfully, Rose shortly rejoined the team and appeared to be in good spirits. Still, it’s never a good look to go completely AWOL, without much of an explanation. Then there was his rape trial in October, the details of the which are quite disturbing on all fronts. (Though he was cleared of those charges.)

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  • It just goes to show that Rose has become somewhat of an off-court distraction with a now questionable past. Which makes it difficult for anyone to convince themselves that he’s worth it.

    The ever-shrinking list of potential suitors remain hesitant

    For the first time in Derrick Rose’s career, he’ll hit the open market. It’s the first time he can actually gauge his weight during free agency. And, assuming he signs with somewhere besides the Knicks or Bull, it will also be his third team in three years. He’s effectively a first time journeyman…kinda.

    The only trouble is finding somewhere he actually fits in. In order to do that, you’ll need to understand the kind of player Rose is, and the player he was.

    In his prime, Derrick Rose was an athletic phenom, who could effortlessly cut his way inside for two. It’d be a tough two, but man was it beautiful to watch. His body control was something we’d rarely seen before, and when combined with his speed and unreal hops, Rose was damn-near unstoppable at the rim. The year he won the MVP, he shot a very solid .611 percent from 0-3 feet from the basket. His overall VORP that year, 6.0.

    But like I said earlier, he’s not that guy anymore.

    On a good day, you could argue that Rose’s athleticism is 85 percent of what it used to. (Even that feels kind of generous.) His speed isn’t quite what it once was, and he’s no nearly as explosive either. One thing he does still seem to have though, is his body control in mid-air.

    If the phrase body control at all confuses you, let me break it down like this:

    Derrick Rose is still really good at converting tough lay-ups, and there’s a reason for that. When he’s in the air, Rose is still able to maneuver and contort his for the best possible angles. Those angles could be for the best bank lay-up, or perfect reverse. Either way, that’s not the point. What matters is that he’s able to make seemingly impossible moves to in order to find those aforementioned angles. He’s essentially making full second moves even though he’s only given split seconds. And he’s able to do it without having an inhuman amount of hang-time. That’s just how good he is at controlling his body.

    (Sorry for that, just wanted to make sure you knew I wasn’t talking about his ability, rather inability to avoid injuries.)

    If you remember my lede for this article, I said that, “(For) every square, (there is) a round.” (Big shouts to anyone who caught that it was in reference to ‘The Sword in the Stone!’ We’re now best friends!) For Rose, his square is his ability to make tough lay-ups. His round, his inability to shoot from beyond 16 feet.

    Since first coming into this league, Rose has faced a lot of criticism for his jump shooting ability. To sum up those criticisms, he simply doesn’t have any. Jump shooting that is.

    On his career Rose shoots .476 from inside 16 feet, move outside 16 feet and that number falls to .356. That’s scary for a guard in today’s league. Teams are looking for players, specifically point guards, who can space the floor and Derrick Rose is very far from that kind of player. So it may be hard for someone to be willing to take the chance on him simply for his offensive abilities.

    To make matters worse, Rose has never been anything resembling a star on the defensive end of the floor. Especially not as of late.

    What I’m getting at is that Derrick Rose is very far from ideal. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have a future in this league.

    I’m sure there is a place for Derrick Rose in this league, he’s too good for there not to be

    This season, as low as it may have been for him, had its bright moments. His Effective Field Goal Percentage climbed to .477, his highest since his MVP season. Not only did he have a higher Free Throw Rate than he has in five years, but he converted those attempts at a career high percentage of .874.

    Compared to last season, he increased his PER and True Shooting Percentage (to 17.0 and .530, respectively) and lowered his Turnover Percentage from 13.4 percent to a career best 11.9 percent. He did all that while also having to deal a decrease in his Usage Percentage, to 25.8 percent (lowest since his rookie season).

    Then if you look at his three-point shooting, you’ll find something quite interesting. Yes, he’s shooting an atrocious .217 from beyond the arc (a career low). But you should never simply take base numbers as they are, as sometimes, there’s more to the story that hasn’t been told.

    Somehow, this once elite slasher of a point guard whose jumper has never been feared has managed to shoot an unreal .455 on his attempted three-point shots from the corner. Trust me, you read that right… .455. What does Steph Curry shoot from the corners this season? .457. Klay Thompson? .437. As you could probably guess, that’s by far a career high for Rose.

    Though he’s not a great, or even a good three-point shooter, he’s incredibly effective on corner threes. The only trouble is getting him to shoot more of them.

    Only .183 of his attempted three-pointer came from the corners. Not ideal, but it shows that there’s still potential for him as a shooter. He just needs the right players and the right coach around him.

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    Now, I’m not going to pretend that I know what team he’ll land with and I’m not in the business of prediction sports writing. (Nothing against predictive writing, it’s just not how I roll.) All I will say is that it’s going to be tough for him to find the perfect home.

    We’re in an era that suffers (not in a negative way) from a surplus of point guard talent, and it’s only going to get deeper with this upcoming draft. But I’m sure there is a place for Derrick Rose in this league, he’s too good for there not to be. I don’t know if it’s as a starter or a back-up, but there’s a place for him.