At the expected cost and role, the polarising point guard represents a risk worth taking for the Eastern Conference champions.
Derrick Rose isn’t the answer the Cleveland Cavaliers were hoping for this summer, but the potential move may pay off.
The free agent point guard could be close to joining the defending Eastern Conference champions on a one-year minimum contract, according to reports.
While Rose wouldn’t put the Cavaliers much closer to beating the Golden State Warriors in a Finals rematch, the addition of the former MVP at the reported price point of $2.1 million, along with situation he’d come into, make him a risk worth taking.
And there’s certainly risk with Rose.
Even just limiting his baggage to the on-the-court variety, Rose’s game hasn’t aged well in the modern game. Sure, his injuries have played a part in that, but his singular, isolation style doesn’t mesh well in an offence that hopes to achieve ball movement.
His box score stats in his lone season with the New York Knicks actually look good – 18.0 points, 4.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 47.1 per cent shooting. But stats alone don’t show how often he hijacked the offence, leading to less opportunities and development for Kristaps Porzingis.
And while his scoring mark was his best since 2011-12, his 3-point shooting percentage of 21.7 was a career low. Rose thankfully stopped taking as many 3s, limiting his attempts to less than one per game, but there’s no getting around his lack of outside shooting and inability to play off-ball.
That said, $2.1m on a one-year deal is tremendous value for a player of Rose’s calibre, especially in a market where the salary cap came in lower than projected and more teams are strapped for cash.
Does he solve the Cavaliers’ main problems of defence and a dearth of two-way players? No. But there’s little to lose here for Cleveland.
Keep in mind the Cavaliers have very scarce wiggle room to manoeuvre as far as player transactions. They’re deep into the luxury tax as it is, while the Paul George and Carmelo Anthony scenarios haven’t come to fruition.
Cleveland have to improve the roster as much as possible and adding Rose would accomplish that, even if it’s an incremental improvement.
Key to the move, however, is Rose’s role and his acceptance of it.
According to ESPN’s report, the Cavaliers are offering Roes a deal “to play with Kyrie Irving in the team’s backcourt”. That sounds like a starting spot in J.R. Smith’s place, which doesn’t make much sense.
Ideally, Rose would be deployed in the second unit, either in conjunction with Deron Williams or in his place as the back-up ball-handler. His penchant to get to the rim would work well when surrounded by shooters like Kyle Korver and Channing Frye.
There’s always the chance Rose feels unhappy with his minutes and lack of floor time to close out games, but that’s where having LeBron James and an established veteran core should help neutralise any chemistry issues.
It’s not a star and it’s not going to threaten the Warriors, but Rose makes the Cavaliers a little better and in an offseason in which they’ve done nothing, it’s something.