The New York Knicks have been one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2020-21 season, as they’ve gotten off to an 11-13 start, led by strong performances from Julius Randle, R.J. Barrett, and rookie Immanuel Quickley. With Tom Thibodeau at the helm, New York is playing some terrific defense and has clearly taken to the style of play their veteran coach wants them to play in his first season in charge.
That is part of the deal with Thibs, as he has extracted the most out of teams defensively for well over a decade, but he also really likes his guys and the Knicks are finding this out as well. He brought Taj Gibson back earlier this season, one of his favorites during his time with the Bulls, and on Saturday, word emerged that the Knicks were leading the charge for a Derrick Rose trade with Detroit — another of his former Bulls stars.
On Sunday, the two sides were able to figure out the framework of a deal, as the Knicks will send former ninth-overall pick Dennis Smith Jr. to Detroit, along with “draft compensation,” which one would assume to be a future second-rounder, to Detroit for Rose, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania and James L. Edwards III.
The Detroit Pistons are nearing agreement on deal to send Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks for Dennis Smith Jr. and draft compensation, sources tell me and @JLEdwardsIII.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 7, 2021
UPDATE: Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the deal is done with the pick going to Detroit being a 2021 second rounder via Charlotte.
Detroit has agreed to trade guard Derrick Rose to New York for Dennis Smith Jr., and a 2021 second-round pick (via Charlotte), sources tell ESPN. Rose reunites with Tom Thibodeau, who coached him in Chicago and Minnesota.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2021
Rose, of course, has already been a Knick once, playing one season in New York in 2016-17, averaging 18 points per game that year, and now returns to the Garden to play for his two-time former coach in Chicago and Minnesota. With the Wolves, he enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career which earned him the contract with Detroit, and with the Pistons shifting to a youth movement the two sides agreed to look for a new home.
It’s not a surprise that the Knicks would look to upgrade their point guard position from Elfrid Payton, who has struggled with his efficiency this season, but adding Rose, who has seen an efficiency dip of his own, is a curious choice for a replacement when considered in a vacuum. However, this is clearly more than just finding the best possible point guard replacement and is Thibs’ continued quest to get the band back together and find guys who he knows will embrace his system. The main goal for Knicks fans with the Rose trade will be, simply, that he doesn’t take away from the continued development of Barrett and Quickley in the backcourt, as they are clearly the future.
As for the Pistons, they’ll get a young player in Smith Jr. who has never quite found his footing in the league after entering with plenty of promise out of NC State, but in Detroit he may find more opportunity and less pressure as he looks to start fresh after falling completely out of the rotation in New York and going to the G League Bubble prior to this trade.