Inside The Deal: Why Phil Jackson Traded For Derrick Rose

Prior to Jeff Hornacek’s arrival in the Big Apple, the Knicks front office was targeting a “lead guard” to help improve the team in the short and long term.  New York’s president Phil Jackson expressed his optimism following a five-player trade with the Chicago Bulls that led to the Knicks landing the 2011 MVP, Derrick Rose.

In fact, Mills mentioned the need for a point guard as a first priority on MSG Network’s special with Al Trautwig.  “Steve [Mills] and I sat for a while and talked about this.  We felt that our group needed some kind of aggressive play, full court aggressive attack and this is one of the ways we could get it done,” Jackson confirmed.

New York sent Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez to Chicago in the deal and waived Tony Wroten in the process.  Jackson took notice of the two games Rose played in back-to-back outings against the Knicks in late March.  Rose combined to score 51 points and dish out seven assists while shooting over 50 percent from the floor.  Jackson’s interest was piqued.

 “I thought he recovered really well towards the end of the year,” Jackson acknowledged.  “Our last game with him, I felt his game was impressive to me.  He’s had issues and that’s the unfortunate part of our game but there’s always risk-reward in everything you do in this business.”

At the height of his powers, Rose was an explosive and dynamic point guard that overwhelmed opponents with superior athleticism.  In the 2010-11 season, Rose averaged 25 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.1 rebounds en route to an MVP award.

“Always talk about lead guard activity and he is one of the guys that you know is decisive, aggressive, and has very high competitive level to his game,” Jackson stated.

Rose’s reign atop the league was derailed by a myriad of unfortunate injuries.  Despite a tireless work ethic, Rose has faced adversity in just about every season since the MVP campaign.  However, last season Rose enjoyed moments of success and a glimpse of the skill set that earned him three All-Star appearances.  Last March, the Chicago native posted 16.6 points and 4.5 assists per game along with the razor cuts inside the lane and high rising finishes near the rim.  Armed with a healthy Rose, the Knicks offense could enjoy a boost of firepower at the point guard position.

“He gives us an opportunity to push the ball with him, being able to penetrate and maybe kick it out for some early offense, threes possibly,” head coach Jeff Hornacek explained.  “So, he might not be the Derrick Rose from four or five years ago with his speed but he’s still pretty darn quick.”

Jackson and Hornacek felt comfortable with Rose’s willingness to join a new squad, move to another city, and posses the motivation to regain the magic from 2011.

“He was happy about it and we understand he’s working out and has a real constant workout plan that he is going through.  We know the drive that he has, so that is important in him,” Jackson revealed. 

Rose was lucky enough to be drafted by his hometown team and the city embraced the 27-year old throughout seven years in the NBA.  The recent coaching change in Chicago and a roster shift led to an opportunity for the Bulls to explore a trade.  Rose will now enter a pivotal era in his career and a contract season to prove New York is his new home.