The Knicks are “engaged in active talks” to acquire Derrick Rose from the Pistons, while the Clippers and other teams have also expressed interest, as The Athletic reported.
Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina has come up in those trade discussions, according to SNY. Ntilikina earns $6.2 million this season and is eligible for an $8.3 million qualifying offer and restricted free agency this offseason. If the Pistons acquired Ntilikina, he’d form a French trio with Killian Hayes and Sekou Doumbouya.
The Knicks also have 10 combined second-round picks during the 2022-27 drafts to dangle as trade bait to acquire Rose from the rebuilding Pistons.
Rose is on the books for $7.7 million this season and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, any team acquiring Rose before the trade deadline would inherit his Early Bird Rights. That allows a team to offer up to 175 percent of Rose’s previous salary, which comes to $13.4 million, without using cap space. One caveat is that a new contract for Rose must run for at least two years.
Those Early Bird Rights could appeal more to a team like the Clippers, given their salary cap situation. The Clippers are right at the hard cap, so they either have to trade equal salary or decrease salary in a trade. A potential offer of Lou Williams and Mfiondu Kabengele theoretically could make sense from a salary cap perspective. The Clippers also have three of Detroit’s second-round picks from 2024-26, which they acquired in the Luke Kennard trade.
For the Knicks, acquiring Rose would signal the Knicks are fortifying themselves for a run at the playoffs. Despite many predicting a lottery finish for New York before the season, the Knicks have surpassed expectations and enter Sunday seventh in the East and only 1.5 games back of the fifth seed.
Coach Tom Thibodeau has always been fond of Rose. The pair have been together for parts of seven combined seasons together with the Bulls and Timberwolves. Rose became the league’s youngest MVP under the tutelage of Thibodeau, and the pair was also together on Team USA.
The loyalty and bond between Thibodeau and Rose extend beyond the court, as Rose told me in November 2018 on the Timberwolves.
“I think he believed in me,” Rose said. “Coming and bouncing from team to team these last two years and having coaches that – I’ve played for coaches that are cool to play for, but it’s different than having a coach that really believes in you. For him, I can say that he honestly cares about me and believes in me, so that means a lot.”
If the Knicks acquired Rose, it would mean a reduced role for current starter Elfrid Payton. It’s also unclear what an acquisition would mean for Immanuel Quickley, who has been a bright spot for the Knicks, ranking second on the team in player efficiency rating (18.45) and third in our HoopsHype Rookie of the Year rankings. Thibodeau has been bullish on Quickley’s attitude, approach, and ability to shoot as a scoring threat with the second unit thus far.
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Information from HoopsHype capologist Yossi Gozlan was used in this story
You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto