Without any picks in this year’s NBA Draft, the New York Knicks needed to wheel and deal if they wanted to upgrade their roster heading into next season. They may have accomplished that goal Wednesday, sending Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon to Chicago for Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday and a 2017 second-round pick.
“I think it’s a good move,” CBS Sports Network college basketball and MSG Knicks analyst Wally Szczerbiak said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “The Knicks definitely needed to upgrade their backcourt. They gave up Robin Lopez, who had a tremendous year last year and really fit very well with the Knicks in his first season as a great free-agent signing. But I think with Hornacek as a coach, he wants to open up the floor, probably use Melo at the 4 and Porzingis a little more at the 5. So maybe that made Lopez a little more expendable. I think getting a guy like Derrick Rose in here at the end of his contract is a really good move. If he can stay healthy, he’s obviously an elite point guard – and that’s something Carmelo Anthony and this Knicks team really needs. They need an upgrade in the backcourt. So I like the move. I think this gives the Knicks a lot of hope going into the season to be viable playoff contenders to make the playoffs with an upgrade at that position in the backcourt. They needed someone who can get dribble penetration and can make things happen to go along with Melo and Porzingis in the front court.”
Rose averaged 25.0 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds during his MVP season but hasn’t averaged even 18 points since 2012. Only 27, Rose has played in 166 games over the last five years – an average of 33.2 games per season.
“It’s all about getting yourself on the floor,” Szczerbiak said. “As a professional, you’ve got to figure that out individually: How do I get myself healthy and get myself right? Sometimes it’s finding the right trainer that you click with, that you believe in. Hopefully Derrick Rose can figure that out. Obviously he’s got a lot on the line for him going into a big contract year, so he’s motivated to stay on the floor and to stay healthy and to figure out how to be productive and turn back the clock and be that player that was the MVP of the league. I think all signs point in the right direction. Hopefully (the Knicks) can come up with a plan to keep him on the floor. When he’s on the floor, he’s effective. When he’s healthy, he’s effective. He’s proven that in the past.”
Looking ahead to Thursday’s NBA Draft, Szczerbiak said he would take Brandon Ingram over Ben Simmons with the No. 1 overall pick.
“I’ve said this all along,” Szczerbiak said. “I worry about Simmons’ shooting ability. He’s very multi-talented, but at the same time, when you can’t keep defenses honest in the NBA, that’s an issue. If that gets better, he’s obviously going to be very good. But Brandon Ingram, I think, is more compete right now. He can come on the floor and you can rely on him to give you 15, 20 points a game next year. I think that’s something the Philadelphia 76ers need. They need someone with consistency and someone they can kind of build around because they haven’t had a lot of success.
“Having said that, if I’m one of those two guys, I’d rather get picked second,” Szczerbiak continued. “Both of them. I’d rather go to the Lakers because Philadelphia is not in a good place. The Lakers are a franchise that has had a lot of great history and obviously a lot of history of winning, so I would want to go there to start my career. I think my career would go to higher, loftier places in a franchise like L.A., as opposed to Philadelphia with where they’re at right now.”