By John Schmeelk
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As rumors around a potential Carmelo Anthony trade continue to swirl, the Knicks appear no closer to finding a good return for their star. This week’s report by the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola that LeBron James was pushing Cavaliers management to move Kevin Love for Anthony was shot down by the King himself, who called it “trash.” It wouldn’t surprise me if James was in fact trying to convince the Cavs of just that, but he could never admit that publicly.
But now that the Knicks officially bottomed out with their no-show performance against the Lakers on Monday night and another loss Wednesday against the Clippers, Phil Jackson should be trying to trade the Knicks’ other “star,” Derrick Rose. Rose might only be 28 years old, but due to his injury history and limited skillset, he is not a long-term answer for the Knicks. He will be a free agent after this season, so the Knicks are far better off getting something for him than losing him for no return in the offseason.
Some people falsely call Anthony a one-dimensional player, but that’s not fair to him. He not only scores, but also rebounds well. When he is doubled, he is actually a pretty good passer when he decides to move the ball. He also scores in a variety of ways — catch-and-shoot, post-up, isolation, mid-range shots and 3-pointers. He does a lot.
Rose is far more one-dimensional. He is good at penetrating and getting to the basket to score. He doesn’t pass well off his drives. He doesn’t draw fouls. He hits an occasional mid-range jumper, but it isn’t a strength. He doesn’t play any defense.
He also has missed nine of the Knicks’ 54 games so far this season. None of his injuries have been serious to the point of requiring surgery, but he has missed enough games for it to be a nuisance. There’s no reason to think he’ll be someone who can consistently play 70-plus games a year for the rest of his career.
The Knicks need a two-way point guard who needs to be more concerned with setting up his teammates, playing good defense and hitting an open 3 than one who looks for his own shots above all else. Rose’s ability to break down the defense and get to the basket is valuable, but his lack of passing skills reduces the impact an awful lot.
New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday, who will be available in free agency this offseason, is someone the Knicks should target. He would be a far better fit with Kristaps Porzingis moving forward than someone like Rose.
Knicks fans need to prepare themselves, however, for the weak return they’d get for Rose. Since he is on the last year of his deal, New York shouldn’t expect to get a first-round pick or a really good young player for him. He’d be a 25-game rental. His salary ($21.3 million this season) will also make finding a suitor tough.
The only thing the Knicks should expect back is an expiring contract, and maybe a couple of second-round picks or developmental players. In Rose’s case, that would be enough. Unlike Anthony, who the Knicks can’t wait to trade this offseason for a better return, Rose needs to be moved in the next two weeks or the Knicks won’t get anything for him.
If they can get anything for him that will accelerate the inevitable rebuild process around Porzingis, the Knicks should do it. It would be a mistake to commit to Rose long-term this offseason, so New York would be wise to be rid of him now and get even a small return for him. There’s no downside to it.
You can make the same argument for trading Brandon Jennings to a team that needs a backup point guard for a playoff run. He also will be a free agent this offseason, and the Knicks are better off getting something for him. Jennings plays hard, but his shot selection and lack of defense don’t make him a winning player.
Dealing Rose and/or Jennings would also make the Knicks much less likely to win games for the remainder of the season. That means a better draft pick.
If a good offer comes in for Anthony, go and trade him. If you don’t, then hold onto him until the summer. Whatever the best offer for Rose or Jennings, as long as it doesn’t include taking back a long-term contract, the Knicks should make that trade. They are rental players, and getting something for either is better than losing both for nothing in July.
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