Beard: Derrick Rose’s trade from Pistons to Knicks should leave everyone happy

Detroit News

Rod Beard
| The Detroit News

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Breaking up is hard to do, but this was the way the Pistons and Derrick Rose had to end.

There wasn’t any arguing or acrimony or sitting out.

The two sides agreed that it was time to part ways and the Pistons did good by Rose to send him to a desirable destination — and what better place could there be than with former coach Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks?

The two teams agreed to terms on a trade that sends Rose to the Knicks for point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and the Charlotte Hornets’ 2021 second-round pick.

It’s a mutually beneficial deal, as the Pistons get some assets in return for Rose, who is on the last year of his contract. The Knicks get a veteran leader to help stabilize their ship for a potential playoff run.

Exceeding expectations, the Knicks are 11-14 and holding on to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, just two games from the No. 5 seed. That’s significant, given that they’re building on their young core, the same way the Pistons are, but with a good start to the season, they’re in a position to act on it.

The Rose trade does that, with minimal risk.

Now, it’s time to move forward.

Forward for Rose means the 32-year-old gets a shot at the postseason and in a familiar setting, with his former coach and likely a familiar role in coming off the bench. He can play on a big stage and help guide a young roster to the postseason.

Forward for the Pistons means doing more evaluation of their young pieces, which now includes Smith, who is just 23. He’ll get some playing time as the backup and at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds the uber-athletic guard can show that he still belongs in the NBA and not the G League, which is where he had requested to go, just to get some consistent minutes.

Since going to the Knicks in the Porzingis trade, Smith’s star has fallen, but if he can get anywhere near the 15.2 points and 5.2 assists he posted as a rookie, or the 14.7 points and 5.4 assists with the Knicks in the second half of the 2019 season, it’s a potential win for the Pistons.  

This season, Smith has played in three games and has been toiling on the Knicks’ bench. A change of scenery could do him some good and provide the Pistons with some backcourt help, which has been sorely needed after rookie Killian Hayes’ injury that will cause him to miss most of the season.

Smith is in the final year of his rookie contract, and at $5.7 million this year, his salary is $2 million less than Rose’s. If the Pistons see some potential in Smith, he could fit into the young core that includes Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey and Saben Lee, along with developing players Josh Jackson, Svi Mykhailiuk and Sekou Doumbouya.

In a dream scenario, Smith will play 50 games this season and have a real chance to make an impression. If the Pistons aren’t happy, they still have the draft pick, along with the savings in the salary cap, as benefits of the trade.

If things work out, he could blossom like Jackson is doing, resurrecting his career in a backup role and showing flashes of being a bigger contributor, such as his 28 points against the Lakers on Saturday night.

Gauging the pick

The second-round pick is from the Charlotte Hornets, who are just ahead of the Knicks in the standings, at 11-13. Ideally, the Pistons would be getting a higher pick, but for now, that pick looks to be in the high 40s or maybe in the low 30s at best.

The Knicks also hold the Pistons’ second-round pick, which projects at No. 31, as the Pistons have the league’s worst record, at 5-18. The Pistons also have the Toronto Raptors’ second-round pick, which is at 39 currently, but likely will dip as the Raptors start to find their footing.

What the Pistons showed in last year’s draft is that they’re not afraid to move picks and jump around to get players they covet, as they did with Bey, Stewart and Lee, doing multiple deals to get young players to accelerate the rebuild.

As new general manager Troy Weaver continues to evaluate the roster, he could use the newly acquired asset to pair with a player or with another pick to improve their standing in the draft, potentially jumping into the first round with an additional selection in what projects to be a draft with a deep talent pool.

After toiling as a perennial No. 8 seed, the Pistons are fully committed to a rebuild, with only three players — Blake Griffin, Doumbouya and Mykhailiuk — remaining from last season’s roster.

Best thing for everyone

Realizing that Rose still had value, the Pistons and Knicks reportedly had been in contact over the course of months on a potential trade package. The Pistons managed to turn nothing — signing Rose as a free agent — into something: a young player and a draft pick.

According to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo! Sports, the Pistons had talked to other teams, including the Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks, about a trade. This likely was the best deal, and if the Pistons couldn’t get him to a title contender, the next-best thing was getting him a reunion with Thibodeau.

Although Rose had been a valuable mentor for Hayes, this is almost certainly the way things had to end, with a deal that yielded some additional future pieces to help the Pistons in the rebuild. The best approach is to gather as many young players as possible and see which ones rise with the opportunity.

No Rose, no apology.

It was going to end, and this is good for everyone.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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