The Knicks need to move on from Derrick Rose, but where should he head in free agency?
Derrick Rose comes off the books as an unrestricted free agent this year. Despite his reasonably active play on offense, his defense has hurt the team immensely, and his passing hasn't been up to scratch.
Earlier in the year, there were reports that Derrick Rose was seeking the max. Assessing his actual worth on the free agency is difficult. There is a surplus of point guards already, but it's safe to say the former star could attract offers between the $12 to $15 million mark per year. The amount of years will also be an issue due to health concerns.
So if the Knicks do not want to keep Rose (they shouldn't, but who knows with this organization), it's time to rule out who actually could consider him. Golden State, Houston, the Clippers, the Lakers, Memphis, OKC, Portland, Atlanta, Boston, Brooklyn, Charlotte, Cleveland, Miami, Toronto, and Washington all better options at this stage.
The Spurs will likely try to keep Patty Mills as a free agent. The Pelicans should sign Jrue Holiday even though it takes away any flexibility and even if he hasn't performed well alongside DeMarcus Cousins. The Suns may look to trade Eric Bledsoe, but if they don't, he's clearly better than Rose. Utah will face tough decisions with George Hill and Gordon Hayward, so they're unlikely to be suitors for Rose. The Timberwolves are enjoying a Ricky Rubio renaissance at the moment, and they're probably very glad they didn't pull off the rumored Rubio/Rose trade.
The Pacers may look to keep free agent Jeff Teague, so they're a long shot. The Bulls have four point guards on the roster and just moved on from Rose. The Bucks would lose their defensive identity if Rose started, plus he needs the ball too much. Elfrid Payton has been on a roll lately for the Magic, plus they already have stacked their roster with bad contracts.
So without further ado, let's look at the contenders.
The Mavericks have had some positive guard play from Yogi Ferrell, Seth Curry, and JJ Barea, all of whom are on the books for very reasonable contracts next year. The Mavericks do have flexibility - they could decline Dirk Nowitzki's $26 million team option and renegotiate with him if he was willing. Devin Harris also has a $4.5 million team option which they could decline. The Mavericks also will face the challenge of keeping Nerlens Noel in free agency. He could likely expect a bid in that $18-$20 million per year range. If the Mavericks were keen on Rose, they could potentially land him if he would take a deal in the $12 million range. It seems unlikely, but a back-ended deal would give Dallas another chance with Dirk at the helm.
Jameer Nelson has outperformed expectations wildly, while Emmanuel Mudiay has underperformed and Jamaal Murray projects to be more of a 2 guard. The Nuggets would have plenty of money to play with if Danilo Gallinari opts out of his player option. The Nuggets have 11 players under contract next year for a total of $71,253,832. That's plenty of money to pay restricted free agent Mason Plumlee and add Rose if they wanted to. Despite Michael Malone being known as a defense-first coach, the Nuggets have done their best work outscoring opponents and pushing the pace. Rose wouldn't be the worst fit.
Darren Collison and Ty Lawson are both off the books next year, and the Kings have some flexibility, although they'll be at around $90 million if Rudy Gay opts into his $14 million player option. Sacramento is a wait-and-see destination due to their potential pick swap with Philadelphia. Also whether Rose would want to play over, there is another story altogether.
The numbers are not doing Reggie Jackson any favors. Most of Detroit's best lineups have been with Ish Smith, rather than Jackson. That being said, the Pistons are already at $95 million for next year, and they'll likely have to pay Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a large sum as a restricted free agent. The Pistons are going to be stuck with this core for a while unless they make a trade.
The Sixers will pay Jerryd Bayless $9 million next year, and he'll be the highest paid player on that roster. The Sixers could reasonably offer two free agents max contracts and still have flexibility. They also stand a chance of potentially adding two top five picks to their roster this year, depending on how the lottery shakes out. The Sixers could do just about anything here. Rose would make their defense worse, and the spacing wouldn't be great with lineups that include Jahlil Okafor and Ben Simmons. However, Rose commands respect in the lane and adding a 17.8 ppg scorer can open things up for Joel Embiid.
There's no real seamless fit for Rose with the flaws he has. Ultimately, a team will trick themselves into thinking adding Rose will move the needle like they do for Jeff Green every year. It's going to be an interesting storyline to monitor.