The Knicks have a completely new feel to them this year, and it’s due to the culture that coach Tom Thibodeau and his staff have put in place. In building a team culture and identity, acquiring the right personnel is key. Having players who believe in a system is equally important as individual talent. Management’s dictate to “Walk this Way” fall on deaf ears if the right players are not present in the locker room.
It is no coincidence that the Rose trade was made as Tom Thibodeau was forced to curtail RJ Barrett’s minutes, especially in crunch time. The message will be loud and clear, this is how a true star approaches the game.
The locker room will now be in the hands of the blue-collar, lunch pail guy Taj Gibson, and Derrick Rose, the NBA’s youngest MVP. The promising young players will have role models that bring a total commitment to the team and the game. Julius Randle will remain the team’s best player and may now reach a ceiling he never thought he could reach by making a total commitment as well. Randle’s expanding offensive game may be complemented by a defensive effort that brings to bear all his prodigious athleticism in Thibodeau’s system.
With Walt Perrin on board, it is unfortunate when the Knicks must give up a draft pick. Over the last few years, the team’s second picks have been more valuable than the first choices. Dotson and Ntilikina may be a wash, but Mitchell Robinson and Immanuel Quickley certainly look better than Kevin Knox and Obi Toppin.
I doubt that Leon Rose would have traded Robinson or Quickley for Derrick Rose. But Rose wasn’t brought in for his diminished talent, he is here for his credibility and leadership.
The value of this trade will not depend on the players available when that future pick comes up.
Yes, Detroit may find a budding all-star with it, but the talent of the player drafted versus Rose’s on-court contributions does not take into consideration the main reason as to why Rose was acquired. Derrick Rose was brought to the Knicks to impress upon the Knicks players the attitude necessary to be winners.
Phil Jackson tried to achieve these results by signing Joakim Noah to counterbalance the negativity of Carmelo Anthony, which may well have soured KP’s attitude. With Noah’s injury and suspension, and Dolan’s siding with Anthony and firing Phil Jackson, the Noah experiment was an abysmal failure.
Knicks: Holding players accountable
The Knick landscape today is quite different. There is a sense of professional competence and cooperation with the Leon Rose team. Everyone is pulling in the same direction. In the locker room, Gibson and Rose will exemplify the new Knick culture and identity being orchestrated by Tom Thibodeau.
Perhaps Thibodeau felt a strong need to bring in Rose as Barrett and Quickley were drifting away from the team-first concept. Certainly, Quickley’s performances were becoming more selfish as seen in the number of three-pointers he was making without passing the ball before putting up his shot.
Barrett’s problems occurred on the defensive end. In the immortal words of Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier, he was playing “Matador D”. The RJ Barrett who worked so hard when guarding Kawhi Leonard was missing as players with mediocre handles blew by him. Julius Randle could also use a defense-first wake-up call.
The motivation to bring in Derrick Rose was certainly based on his leadership and credibility. If the Knicks play better basketball from this point forward, it will have more to do with the Derrick Rose ‘Effect’ on the team’s play than his on-court performance.