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Knicks HC Tom Thibodeau and PG Derrick Rose Courtesy CllickPoints.com

I’ve been pretty tied up as a stagehand on some show for a while now, but behind the scenes I’ve been keeping track of much of the major sports moves across MLB, NBA and even (gulp) NFL as the pandemic has stimulated some dramatic changes on rosters and front offices alike.  I’ve had long email threads involving a few folks here about these events, which eventually turned into a request to open the discussion to the rest of us Banterites, which I’ve decided to do as time permits.  I’m sure most have been kept abreast by your favorite credentialed or otherwise consistent sources, but I offer a familiar perspective you can interact with in our comfortable break room, nothing more and nothing less. Shall we begin?

The latest treacle of info is that the New York Kings of Leon Knicks, who have undergone a much needed and dramatic change of culture from front and back (but sadly not the tippy-top) have reacquired guard Derrick Rose from Detroit.  If you’ve paid attention, you know that Rose was last seen (around here anyway) during the 2016-17 season failing with the Phil Jackson-error squad as he struggled with the surprisingly exposed and obsolete Triangle offense and ended up having injury-marred turns with both Cleveland and Minnesota the next season.  He regained his footing with Detroit in 2019, but because of health issues has started this season off the bench for them, so it’s not as much of a significant move on the surface as his name implies.

Given his travails with the Knicks and his outspoken criticism and desire to get away, I’m surprised he would acquiesce to returning, but then there has been significant change here and with him as well.  For one thing, Tom Thibodeau is the coach now, and Rose had his best years with Thibs, so he’s someone who knows the system and can help integrate the younger Knicks on the roster with said system (and commiserate when they get worn out) that worked well for a while with the Chicago Bulls.  Can’t argue with the results so far; Thibs is known as a defensive guru of a coach and has helped lift the current team to 5th in defense across the league well before reaching the halfway point of the season. Not to mention, the Knicks are in real need of a veteran point guard to stimulate the offense, which tends to be a liability with his teams unless he has decent players in place to make them work. He can develop those types (as he did with Rose, or he and the new front office can acquire those types (as they did with Rose).  Of course, the downside of this is Rose’s injury history; he had a significant ACL tear of his left knee during the 2011-12 season playoffs that kept him out for the rest of the series and all of the following season.  He returned for 2013-14. but tore the meniscus of his right knee in November and missed the rest of that season.  The following season he again required surgery on his right knee in March and missed 20 games before returning in April for the playoffs.  In his lone season with the Knicks he was shut down in the latter part of the season for another meniscus tear.  With Cleveland, Minnesota and Detroit the injury trends continued throughout.  Despite this, Rose has shown flashes of his former All-Star form throughout even after returning from various injuries, so his game seems intriguing enough to have him in anyone’s rotation, but even though he’s 32, his injuries have culminated to the point that Detroit restricted his minutes and had him coming off the bench this season, which is likely to continue in his return.  If nothing else, this is an experience pickup that could provide some productivity while allowing the younger point guards to develop (or buy time and space to find/develop a good starter for that role).  There’s promise in guard Immanuel Quickley, inconsistent as he has been, that shines above current roster guards Elfrid Payton, Frank Ntlikina and Austin Rivers (who seemed to be groomed this season solely as trade bait for contending teams).

Meanwhile back in 2019, this happened:
Dennis Smith was acquired by the New York Knicks, along with DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, a 2021 1st round pick (DAL own) and a conditional 2023 1st round pick (DAL own), from the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Kristaps Porzingis.

The flip-side of getting Derrick Rose back is sending Dennis Smith Jr. and a 2021 second-round pick via the Charlotte Hornets. Again if you’ve been paying attention, that probably says more about Rose’s impact on Detroit than Smith Jr has had on New York. To say the least, Smith has been a disappointment. Coming over in what amounted to a salary dump with a couple of okay picks and expiring contracts for guys that probably wudda-cudda-shudda stayed were it not for the massive incompetence of the then-front office… man, this was a strange move, and one that went pretty much as expected as Smith was really deep on the downside of a somewhat promising career and has not deviated from that path to obscurity yet.  In fact, it had gotten to the point that he asked to be placed in the G-League just so he could get quality playing minutes as he was locked out of the rotation and averaged less than ten minuets a game in the 3 games he played in.  Being traded to Detroit could actually be a breath of fresh air for him; a place where he can rehab his game without expectations.

As for the picks; well it’s capital, which will probably be used to acquire more development pieces. Let’s not forget that the Knicks are a rebuilding organization (let alone the team in the locker room) and any success they experience should be viewed from that lens alone. Knicks president Leon Rose and his Funky Associates were brought in specifically to change a losing culture that has hung over and rotted the organization for over twenty years (with one playoff win during this period and oh-look, the head coach from that season is an assistant on the staff this season), and though the coach has them playing surprisingly well, it’s still a work-in-progress, as evident by the trade for a player they once had who can, in a limited capacity, provide a good amount of progression for the younger core players they’ve acquired or drafted.  It won’t change them overnight and it won’t make them surprise contenders, but it does show a commitment to the coach’s system.  I’d start expecting something in year three if I were you.

Oh yeah, Tampa Bay 31, Kansas City 9, Tom Brady greatest of blah-blah whatever…

Categories:  1: Featured  Basketball  Chyll Will  Games We Play

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1 Shaun P.   ~  Feb 7, 2021 11:45 pm

[0] Chyll!!! It's good to read more by you. So the Knicks are possibly slowly maybe kinda getting better, you say? Is it bad form for me to ask if Dolan has sold the team yet? I honestly don't know if I can really get back in even partially on the Knicks with him still there. I may have made a similar comment in the long, cold winter of '92-'93 regarding a turtleneck wearing owner and the Bombers, but I was just a kid then and was never out on the Yanks.

And now that that other sport, whatever it is, is done with its season, how many days until pitchers and catchers?

2 rbj   ~  Feb 8, 2021 9:00 am

Pitchers and catchers next Monday, if the schedule holds. Have to take my parents to do grocery shopping and then the terrorists to the vet.

3 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 8, 2021 12:12 pm

[2] If it were only that easy... “make sure you get your terrorists spayed or neutered.” Although shots do seem natural under the circumstances...

4 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 8, 2021 6:37 pm

[1] He still owns the team, but as long as he stays well away like he does with the other team he owns (NY Rangers), I can get with this program. All they need to really get going is some breathing room to operate and less nihilism from above.

Also, Mr. Turtleneck voluntarily banished himself from baseball after doing something really stupid; regardless of his motives for volunteering, he couldn't interfere anymore while he was away. Out of sight, out of mind seems to work best for almost all team-owners; Mets fans have to hope they won't have to go through that life-cycle with theirs.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 9, 2021 9:13 am

Will, do you like the coach?

6 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 9, 2021 3:43 pm

[5] I do so far, but I'm still guarded based on his history with other teams hes' coached. He's driven and meticulous, and he is fanatical about fundamentals (without being overbearing and authoritarian), but he's had a worrisome rap about physically wearing out his core players and eventually wearing out his welcome (see: Chicago, Minnesota). I read an article in which he says he took time away from the game after being let go from Minny to reflect on himself and his process; if he's learned anything from that, this will be a good fit for both he and the team. I suppose it will take time to see real changes; already some broadcasters are saying he plays Randle and Barrett too much and Quickley needs to reign in his three-point shooting, while also complaining that Obi Toppin should be playing more. Take that for what you will, but I want to see where they are at the end of the season; if they play defense then like they are now and Rose + whomever else comes via trade motivates them into a playoff spot, he's a good coach. If they're contending seriously and/or consistently by year three, he's a damn good coach.

Let's not forget his assistants, though; Mike Woodson was the last coach to lead them to the playoffs and also to their first playoff win since what, 2000? I think they let him go too soon, and what followed was an unmitigated disaster of course. The others I have to look more closely into, but it might be fair to say Leon Rose and Co. are trying to wlak back some of the mistakes of the previous regimes.

DO NOT BE SURPRISED if ol'boy Carmelo is sitting on the bench as a reserve at some point, though I would be shocked if it was this season.

7 rbj   ~  Feb 10, 2021 8:26 pm

One week until pitchers and catchers. Can’t believe we might have something approaching a normal season.

8 yankintexas   ~  Feb 14, 2021 4:33 pm

Kendrys Morales / Mike Ford 2.0 signed. Will go by the name of Jay Bruce on the back of his jersey. Cashman must have a lot of reward points accumulated from all of the shopping he does at the Dollar Store's "maybe hits some homers but provides absolutely nothing else" aisle. Yippee.

9 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 14, 2021 10:56 pm

[8] All that. But also keep in mind these are mainly one-and-done deals; I suspect Cashman is gambling on this season to either win it all or punt and restock the farm ala 2015. Either way, these are open-secret financial moves. How badly the lockdown and empty stadiums hurt their bottom line is anyone's guess, but their past moves have put them in really tough spots now simply because they haven't won the chips they hoped they would by now, and the core is about to either get paid or get broken to pieces.

How bad would having Stanton be right now if the Yanks won one or two championships at this point? Would they have overpaid to get Cole or even left DJ twisting in the wind as long as they did? Much of Cashman's bargain hunting can be questioned, but the fact that he's doing it is not because he doesn't know what he's doing; rather the smart gambles he made didn't turn out the way anyone would have thought. The 2019 is a testament to how fickle fate is even with the best-laid plans.

And maybe, just maybe... with all the moves Cashman has made, particularly over the last few years that have produced more than anyone could have expected, maybe that's why Houston and Boston felt like they needed to cheat in order to win?

10 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 14, 2021 11:10 pm

Back to the Knicks for a moment, it's funny how the in two of the last three drafts, the Knicks' second pick has overshadowed and outdone the first pick. Mitchell Robinson is an immensely better player than Kevin Knox, and right now Quickley is the steal of the draft while Obi Toppin rides the bench; though with Robinson's broken hand, Toppin is likely going to get more time.

11 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 15, 2021 7:22 pm

Hmmm... Yanks bring back Justin Wilson to apparently fill out the bullpen. No terms as of yet, but I'm willing to bet it's a one-year deal. Seems like they're trying to go for it one last time before possibly having to pay the piper or pack it in, which would be a sad way for several people to end their Yankee tenures...

Looks obvious that Brett's not coming back, either. Wouldn't be at all surprised if he landed either in Philly or Miami in that order on a decent deal to close out his career; doesn't seem like he's ready to hang it up, but if he doesn't get any takers, I do see him returning in some field operations role with this team (and ghosting as a quick pick-up mid-season if need be). Of course I could be all wrong and I have no problem with that...

12 rbj   ~  Feb 17, 2021 9:01 am

Happy pitchers and catchers!

13 rbj   ~  Feb 17, 2021 9:35 pm

Wow, Tatis gets paid $340 million for 14 years. Manageable AAV of $24+ million, but 14/years?

14 Hank Waddles   ~  Feb 17, 2021 9:52 pm

Every baseball contract comes with a huge risk, but the Tatis deal seems to make a lot of sense. Not only does it have a relatively low AAV for a superstar, it locks in an entire career. The Padres have chosen their marquee player for the next generation. It's good for them, and it's good for baseball.

15 rbj   ~  Feb 18, 2021 10:53 am

I'd just like to see the insurance on that contract.

16 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Feb 18, 2021 1:10 pm

Chyll, great to hear from you again! I was a Knicks fan in the golden age of Reed, Frazier, Debuscheur, Bradly et. al. But since moving to the DC area in 72, I've been a Bullets/Wizards fan. One championship season. About the best you can say for the sorry Wizards is that they play just well enough to miss out of the lottery most years. And the fact that the last owner built a great arena in a poor part of town that turned the entire downtown around. Can't wait to watch the Yanks again! Do you know if there will be changes in the broadcast "talent?"

17 rbj   ~  Feb 19, 2021 6:44 pm

Gardy’s back!

18 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 19, 2021 8:12 pm

[17] Yep, 1 yr/$4 million. Glad to be wrong on the Yanks not trying to bring him back or him not taking a low offer (heck,I'll take $4 million for whatever I'm doing right now >;)

[16] Good to see you too! I was attending school in DC in the early 90s when both the Mark Rypien-era (Washington Football Team) and the Baltimore Orioles were the talk of the town (other readers should look at their roster from 90-93, you'd be surprised) while the Bullets were... well, they had Bernard King finishing out his career with them (which is still a tragedy, he should have been a Knick 4 Life), Harvey Grant (Horace's twin brother) and Pervis Ellison whom everyone remembers for no good reason. The Knicks meanwhile were ramping up to become the toast of their own town in that time as our beloved Yankees slogged through some really bad baseball for a few years (little did the baseball world know what was coming for them, huh). Interesting times...

A change in the broadcast talent? Not exactly, but there will be a couple of special ST games in March where Sterling and Kay team up again on the radio broadcast. John Sterling is 82 years old! Michael Kay just turned 60... where has the time gone? I don't mind saying that those two were my favorite radio tandem with the Yanks, even before the Dynasty years officially kicked off, so I just might tune in for their sake. From what Kay has said, it seems like it was a long time coming, but the usual corporate BS kept them from doing anything on the radio together.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver