NBA free agency begins July 1. Until then, you’re going to see free agent profiles from all over the league. Where will the most notable names land? Why will they land there? For all the profiles we’ve already covered, click here.
Forget about money. Forget about status. And forget about anything except for the player he is on the court and the human being he is off of it. How many teams would want Derrick Rose on their roster?
Rule out any true contender. Why risk him messing with your locker room? Rule out any young team. Why risk him messing with the development of your youngsters? Rule out any team whose point guard’s place in the league isn’t firmly cemented. Why risk your fans chanting for the MVP to take his place? Rule out the teams that have had him. The Knicks and Bulls want nothing to do with him anymore.
Who does that even leave? To salvage Derrick Rose, you’d have to have utter confidence in your team’s pecking order and a point guard who is unassailable. You’d have to be desperate enough for a bench scorer and floor general to take that kind of risk and not have the financial means to find someone better. You’d have to know that it was a short-term arrangement and be ready to kick him to the curb at a moment’s notice.
This sounds a lot like the Thunder to me.
Derrick Rose will not threaten Russell Westbrook. He is the likely MVP and is so beloved in Oklahoma that fans tried to name a town after him. But the Thunder got blitzed by 8.9 points per 100 possessions when Westbrook sat during the season. They need a credible ball-handler to give him 15 minutes of rest per night.
As far as cheap backups go, Derrick Rose is probably the closest approximation of Westbrook that exists in the league. The Thunder wouldn’t have to change their offense much. Rose will barrel towards the basket like Westbrook. He’ll take dumb mid-range shots like Westbrook. He’ll even stat hunt like Westbrook.
The Thunder have to find a way to fix those minutes where Russ sits if they’re going to convince him to sign up long-term. Why would he commit to a team that can’t play NBA quality basketball without him? There are larger structural problems with Oklahoma City’s roster. They have to find more shooting. They probably just need another star before they can be taken remotely seriously. But those problems are much harder to solve. This one is a pretty simple fix.
Tom Thibodeau might be dumb enough to try this, but he’ll have an entire organization screaming in his ear not to. It’s fun to imagine reclamation situations like San Antonio or Cleveland, but someone who skips an NBA game is not redeemable. Maybe he could put up stats on some team like Orlando and help them sell tickets, but teams don’t think that way anymore. NBA teams are multi-billion dollar assets, not carnivals.
Oklahoma City has just enough going for them to make the Rose risk viable without being too good to create a meaningful downside. If this fails, well, Sam Presti traded James Harden. He’s surely capable of cutting Derrick Rose.
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