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Derrick Rose is in the middle of his best season since he was named the youngest MVP in league history back in 2011, and he’s on one of the league’s more tradable contracts. He’s making just $7.3 million this season with another $7.7 million coming his way in 2020-21.
For less than the mid-level exception, the per-minute numbers he’s putting up are eerily similar to what his younger self did for the Chicago Bulls.
- Rose’s MVP season in 2010-11: 26.7 points, 8.2 assists, 1.1 steals per 75 possessions, plus-0.9 relative true shooting percentage, 5.9 box plus/minus, plus-8.8 net rating (plus-2.8 swing)
- Rose in 2019-20: 25.9 points, 8.4 assists, 1.1 steals per 75 possessions, plus-0.9 relative true shooting percentage, 0.7 box plus/minus, plus-1.0 net rating (plus-5.9 swing)
But Rose’s current team, the Detroit Pistons, sits outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture and has just a 10 percent chance to get in, according to FiveThirtyEight’s projection model.
If the losses keep piling up, the Pistons may be sellers as the Feb. 6 trade deadline approaches, and Rose could be one of the most movable players. As Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes wrote Monday, “The Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and multiple teams with championship aspirations have expressed interest in trading for Detroit Pistons guard Derrick Rose.”
It’s not difficult to see Rose adding a spark off the bench for either of those squads. What others might benefit from the presence of the former MVP?
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The Deal: Kyle Kuzma and Quinn Cook for Derrick Rose
LeBron James and Rose had a brief run as teammates for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017-18. It went terribly.
They played fewer than 500 possessions together, but Cleveland’s minus-6.7 net rating with those two on the floor ranked in the 20th percentile, per Cleaning the Glass.
Things are different now. Like Grant Hill, Rose may have needed more time to fully recover from his injuries than others do. Or, perhaps he’s finally adjusted to playing with the level of athleticism he now possesses, as opposed to what he had as a 22-year-old MVP.
Either way, it’s easy to see how this version of Rose could fit with the Lakers.
This season, L.A. is plus-11.3 points per 100 possessions with LeBron on the floor and minus-0.2 with him off. The team has a desperate need for playmaking when the King is on the bench, and Rose could provide that.
Losing Kuzma, one of the only intriguing prospects on the roster (if he’s still young enough to fit that description), isn’t ideal. After a slow start to the season, he’s more than perked up of late, averaging 19.3 points over his last six games.
But there’s a lot of positional redundancy with Kuzma, LeBron, Anthony Davis and Jared Dudley. He’s also nowhere near the table-setter Rose is.
The veteran point guard’s game would offer a short-term upgrade despite the loss of size and youth. For an organization firmly in the win-now phase of team-building, that’s fine.
Detroit, on the other hand, would get a 24-year-old Michigan native who just averaged 18.7 points in his second NBA season. Kuzma certainly has his shortcomings as a defender and playmaker, but he offers more long-term potential than most of the rest of the Pistons roster.
He and Sekou Doumbouya could eventually form an intriguing positionless forward duo.
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The Deal: Zhaire Smith, Jonah Bolden and a second-round pick for Derrick Rose
Philadelphia’s interest in Rose is easy to understand, but this is another team that isn’t loaded with young, tradable players.
Zhaire Smith is 20, but he’s played just over 100 minutes in the NBA. His career box plus/minus in the G League is below replacement level. Still, he profiled as a multipositional defender with plus athleticism coming out of college, and it’s too early to call him a bust.
Jonah Bolden, meanwhile, is a bit older (he just turned 24). But as a rookie, he showed flashes of the well-rounded game most centers need to survive in the modern NBA.
In 2018-19, among 6’8″-plus players who played at least as many minutes, no one matched Bolden’s combination of assist percentage, block percentage, steal percentage and three-point percentage. Throw out the last qualifier and AD and DeMarcus Cousins are the only names added to the list.
All this has happened in a very small sample, though. The same can be said for Smith. And neither is playing for the 76ers right now. Offering them and a second-round pick for Rose’s instant offense is justifiable.
“The Sixers need more players who can dribble and shoot, not fewer,” Kyle Neubeck wrote for PhillyVoice. “And moving in that direction means understanding that [Ben] Simmons has to be more than a point guard for this team to get where it needs to go.”
Rose may not inspire a ton of confidence as a shooter, but he can certainly dribble. And he’s in the 68th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler scorer this season. That could be an interesting attribute to deploy alongside Simmons.
“It should not surprise anyone that a player who was a power forward at LSU is a good screener,” Neubeck added. “This has been true of Simmons for years, though sometimes it was a challenge to find spots where they could take advantage of it.”
Rose would provide more of those spots.
Spacing would remain an issue with Simmons and Joel Embiid both on the floor, but surviving the Embiid-less minutes is the point of acquiring more help. When he sits, a Rose/Simmons pick-and-roll surrounded by Philly’s best shooters could be the blueprint for having a sustainable offense without the All-NBA center.
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The Deal: D.J. Augustin and a first-round pick for Derrick Rose
The Orlando Magic are 27th in three-point percentage this season. Moving one of their only proven shooters, D.J. Augustin, for Rose would potentially tighten up an already crowded offense.
But it might be worth the risk given Orlando’s 25th-ranked offensive rating (106.4 points per 100 possessions).
Rose is a year younger than Augustin and has been a significantly better offensive player this season. Pairing him with a shooting big could mitigate his own lack of range.
Pick-and-pops with Rose and Nikola Vucevic would pull bigs away from the paint, giving the guard more room to attack the rim. Surround that with the outside touch of Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross (though the latter’s three-point percentage is down this season), and you can start to imagine the makings of a workable attack.
Defensively, the Magic would still have plenty of length and versatility to cover for Rose’s shortcomings on that end.
Back in November, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that Orlando was “scouring the trade market for scoring help.” Rose could provide that help.
Given the 31-year-old’s age and significant injury history, it may be tough for Detroit to pry a first-round pick away from anyone. If a team does offer one, even in a draft projected to be weak, the Pistons might need to pounce.
Orlando may be one of the teams desperate enough to go that far.
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The Deal: Cristiano Felicio and a first-round pick for Derrick Rose
This is another do-over for Rose alongside a ball-dominant wing.
The Chicago Bulls have struggled to live up to preseason expectations, but they’re still in the mix for one of the last two playoff spots in the East. A local hero could give them the push they need to get back into the postseason for the first time since 2016-17.
Cristiano Felicio has another year left on his deal after this one, but the Pistons shouldn’t be dying for cap space in the near future anyway. They’re positioned to take on less savory contracts in exchange for sweeteners. And the Bulls shouldn’t lose much sleep over the loss of a middling first-round pick in 2020.
Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo broke down this lackluster class:
“It’s difficult to truly get a bead on large-scale pessimism, but based on conversations I’ve had over the first two months of the season, a wide, wide range of sources across the industry seem to agree that the 2020 draft class, well, kind of sucks. It doesn’t help that so few of the established top prospects are actually playing basketball. James Wiseman announced that he is leaving Memphis to train for the NBA draft. LaMelo Ball, Cole Anthony and R.J. Hampton have all gone down with injuries in the last two weeks. Anthony Edwards has been predictably inconsistent. Deni Avdija is playing a small role in Israel. These guys were all pegged as Top 10 picks coming into the season. Not a single one has managed to produce an encouraging statistical sample as the New Year approaches. It’s bleak, but at this point, you at least have to ask yourself: What if none of these guys are actually that good? It’s not crazy to think this could be the worst draft since 2013, when (gulp) Anthony Bennett went first overall.”
Detroit is in asset-accumulation mode. It should probably be looking for any draft capital, even if the Bulls want to make the selection lottery-protected.
With Zach LaVine making an All-Star push and Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. on board, Chicago can also sell a push for a playoff berth.
Like other teams detailed here, the Bulls haven’t been able to get going in minutes without their star. Their offense goes from bad (107.5 points per 100 possessions) to terrible (99.8) when LaVine sits. Having Rose lead the stampede for some of those possessions would help.
And, like the Magic, Chicago could do some fun pick-and-pop stuff with Rose and Markkanen. If you’re going to have a 1 who doesn’t space the floor, a spacing big is key.
Giving up a first as a team that has no chance of contending for a title may feel steep, but the Bulls need a jolt just to meet the expectations with which they entered this campaign. The sentimentality of Rose’s homecoming would also give the organization something to sell fans on during the playoff charge.