Last week, upon hearing the news regarding Derrick Rose‘s contract negotiations with the Cleveland Cavaliers, I did what I could to put a positive spin on it.
Obviously, Rose isn’t the player he used to be, as a seemingly endless string of knee injuries have taken a toll on his career. However, the concept of signing him to a low-cost deal to essentially back up Kyrie Irving certainly added its fair share of appeal. A combination of Irving and Rose would easily be one of the best point guard depth charts Cleveland has seen in some time.
The next day, we were told Irving had asked Cleveland to trade him.
So, when Rose made his signing with the Cavs official last night, the NBA world had a bit of a different reaction than initially planned. Instead of lauding Cleveland for finding a significant upgrade at backup point guard, fans and media alike now had to wonder if the Cavs are planning on heading into the 2017 season with Rose as their replacement for Irving.
If this is indeed the plan, Cleveland needs to think twice. There’s an obvious drop-off between relying on Rose as your starting point guard instead of Irving. As a result, the Cavs shouldn’t stop pursuing help at this position despite last night’s acquisition.
It should be noted this argument is all based on the assumption Irving will indeed be traded by the start of next season. Up until last night, said belief seemed to be logical, as it was reported Cleveland openly talked to Rose about getting to the Finals without Irving. It remains to be seen if LeBron James‘ tweets from this morning insisting the rift between himself and Irving is “fake news” are true.
Until we receive word Cleveland’s two stars have patched things up, let’s continue under the notion Irving will be dealt in the near future. In doing so, the hope is the Cavs are ensuring any and all teams they talk to are including a point guard in their trade offers.
To be fair, I don’t want to ignore the fact Rose averaged his highest PPG (18.0) since the 2011-2012 campaign last year with the New York Knicks. Additionally, his shooting percentage (.471) was the highest it’s been since 2010.
The problem, though, is how faulty the idea of relying on Rose as Irving’s replacement seems to be outside of this.
There’s the obvious fact Irving is entering his prime and has become one of the best offensive point guards in the NBA. There are only a handful of players in the league who could make up for what Cleveland would lose in trading him, and Rose isn’t one of them. He’s a step or two behind Irving in scoring ability, and can’t even remotely provide as much from long-range.
Also obvious is how difficult it is to rely on Rose in general. The amount of times his season has come to an abrupt end due to knee surgery is alarmingly high. While he has still proven he can be effective offensively, you always feel as though he’s one tweak away from having to go under the knife again.
Should Rose run into another health issue, suddenly Cleveland would have to rely on Jose Calderon and Kay Felder as its only remaining point guards. You don’t need to look at either’s stats to know this situation would hardly be ideal.
Because of this, the Cavs simply cannot consider their work done when it comes to the position of point guard.
Should the team still be looking to deal Irving, it has to be hell-bent on getting another guard back in return. Additionally, since Irving is under contract for two more seasons, Cleveland should be able to net a starter in return. Rumors of Eric Bledsoe and even Isaiah Thomas being available in exchange for the Cavs’ star have surfaced ever since news of his trade demand broke. While the latter seems difficult to imagine, the former would be a solid pickup for Cleveland.
Of course, there’s always the (still slim) possibility Irving and the Cavs work all of this out and he returns to the team next year. This would easily be the most ideal outcome.
However, we’re still led to believe a trade is on the horizon. If this is indeed the case, Cleveland better not minimize the idea of getting a talented point guard back in exchange for Irving.
Rose can definitely help the Cavs, provided it’s in the right situation. Having him as your starter while relying on Calderon and Felder as backups is not the right situation.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook