Should the Knicks bring back Derrick Rose?

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Derrick Rose

Much has changed for Derrick Rose over the last year, coming into the season as an expected key rotation player, and exiting it on essentially a farewell tour. Where did it turn sour for the modern legend?

Rose’s second stint with the Knicks has been a much more fruitful one than his year-and-a-half tenure under Phil Jackson. That was smack in between his physical downfall and later rejuvenation, playing for a then bumbling franchise.

New York traded back for him in the middle of the 2020-21 season, propelling a surprisingly solid squad to the fourth seed in the East. He averaged 15 points per game as the team’s go-to point guard, shooting a career-high 41.1 percent from three and starting their last four playoff games.

Among other issues that plagued the Knicks follow up act in 2021-22, Rose went down with an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for the majority of the season.

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Arriving to this season’s training camp healthy and shirtless to show off his best physique in years, many hoped he’d deliver a strong campaign off the bench despite turning 34-years-old.

Unfortunately, it didn’t come to pass. Rose’s offense slipped, and his defense no longer held up, the combination of which forced Tom Thibodeau to boot him from the rotation in an early December move that ended up turning the season around.

Rose averaged 6.4 points in 13.6 minutes a night, shooting 40 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from deep before his benching. They weren’t bad minutes, mixing in well with the familiar bench unit including Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin, but Thibodeau opted for defense with the Knicks struggling on that end.

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In went Miles McBride, and eventually Josh Hart, and out went Rose. He only appeared in six more regular season games and one playoff blowout over Cleveland, most of which brought on by raucous chants of his name from Madison Square Garden.

Those moments were inspiring displays of gratitude from fans appreciating an all-time great, but jarring when compared to where he was just this fall. If he comes back next season, it won’t be as a rotation player, making it possible the Knicks move on from him altogether.

It’s only fair to the team, who might want reliable depth in that roster spot, and Rose, who may want to find minutes elsewhere if possible. The Knicks have a team-option for next season worth $16 million, which they’ll likely decline no matter the scenario.

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If New York brings him back, it’ll likely be on a veteran’s minimum, to continue his mentorship of their young guards and provide a winning presence in the locker room. They could theoretically keep him at $16 million to have salary filler in a future star trade, but that’s not probable.

Rose has been a fun fan favorite and valuable culture-setter in these last two-plus years as a Knick. Whether he stays for another year as the team’s 13th man or finds something else, he’ll be remembered and appreciated as such for years to come.

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