Making Sense of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Potential Signing of Derrick Rose

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Have you been upset by the quiet summer the Cleveland Cavaliers are enduring? Underwhelmed by the signings of Jose Calderon or Jeff Green? Do you wish the Cavs would’ve kept Cedi Osman in Turkey so they could sign a much more talented vet?

If so, fret no more! Cleveland may be on the verge of signing a former MVP, a surefire move to close the gap with the Golden State Warriors!

The Cavs are trying to assemble a Big Four of their own, with none other than point guard Derrick Rose!

…yeah, I’d say that about sums up the reaction upon hearing ESPN’s Brian Windhorst report Cleveland and Rose were in serious talks on a one-year contract. Well, it was a combination of underwhelmed confusion and, depending on who you root for, laughter.

Much of the reaction comes from the fact it seems as though we’re decades removed from Rose being an MVP-caliber player, despite the fact he won the award just six years ago. Knee injuries have plagued him over the past few seasons, while defensively he leaves a ton to be desired. The concept of seeing this as a counter to Golden State signing Kevin Durant last summer is a massive stretch.

That said, it’d be tough to see this move as a complete misfire. Yes, there would be notable concerns with bringing Rose to Cleveland. However, there are a handful of positives to be found here, too. The key issue is determining whether or not they outweigh the cons.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first – Rose is hardly any sort of savior here, nor does he automatically fix what’s an offseason which has somehow been equal parts chaotic and uneventful for Cleveland.

Though he’s coming off a season in which he averaged his highest PPG in five years, he still comes with issues. His outside shooting percentage is abysmal, as he finished last year with the New York Knicks hitting only 21% from behind the arc. It doesn’t get much better on the other end of the court, as he’s not exactly known as a lock-down defender. Add in his being injury prone and owning more than a fair share of off-court baggage, and you can see why many have their doubts.

So, yes, signing Rose won’t change the minds of anyone who’s spent all summer criticizing Cleveland’s moves (or lack thereof). Still, this wouldn’t be a completely negative pickup.

For one, Rose would be joining the Cavs on a one year, $2.1 million deal. This is hardly a situation where they’d be breaking the bank to invest in a player whose best days may be behind him. If it didn’t work out, Rose’s contract would be an appealing trade chip for teams looking to sell come February.

Secondly, Cleveland would in no way be depending on Rose to start. This point can’t be hammered home enough.

If the Cavs were relying on Rose to be their star point guard, yes, mock the move as long as possible. However, they’d instead be slotting him behind All-Star Kyrie Irving on the depth chart.

Not having a reliable backup point guard plagued Cleveland all the way into the Finals last year. Being able to sub out Irving and have Rose run the offense would be a far better option than handing the reins to Calderon or an inexperienced Kay Felder. I think we can all agree Cleveland would’ve been better off relying on Rose for backup minutes against the Warriors than it was with Deron Williams.

Obviously, this move to the bench will take some acceptance from Rose, as he’s been a starter through his entire career. Should there be an issue with a new role, it could cause a rift in the locker room.

This is actually a solid transition to the one outlying issue, which is how LeBron James would feel about this.

Cleveland’s star has helped to create one of the better locker room atmospheres in the NBA. His feelings on Rose will also go a long way towards how this move would play out. Should the former Knick pull off another disappearing act as he did before a January game last season, you have to think James will be less than thrilled.

At the same time, it’s important to remember how James reacted the last time he was approached with the idea of acquiring someone deemed as a troublemaker. When told midway through the 2014-15 season his team might trade for J.R. Smith, he simply said “get him here and I’ll take care of it.” One would hope, knowing how Rose could potentially improve Cleveland’s second unit, James might have the same reaction here.

Nothing is official just yet, as Rose is also meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers today. It’s safe to say they’d be able to offer him more in terms of salary. However, if his goal is to contend next season, Cleveland remains his best option.

If this is where he ends up, it’s important realize this would be a better move than you’d initially think.

Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook


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