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At this year’s trade deadline, the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves held trade discussions centered around Derrick Rose and Ricky Rubio. Talks ended up falling through, but many around the league expected the Wolves and Knicks to engage in those conversations again during the offseason.
Rose will be a free agent for the first time in his career this summer and ESPN has already reported that the Timberwolves will pursue the former MVP in free agency. Wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau, of course, coached Rose in Chicago for five years.
As the third option in New York this past season, Rose averaged 18.0 points, 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting an efficient 47.1 percent from the field. The Chicago native did undergo his fourth knee surgery towards the end of the season, but the good news is that he is already back on the court doing basketball activities.
Rubio, meanwhile, is coming off a solid season with Minnesota. The Spaniard averaged a career-high 11.1 points while dishing out 9.1 assists per game. Shooting, however, continues to be Rubio’s downfall, as he barely shot over 40 percent from the field.
Thibodeau’s offense is built for the point guard to succeed. From making Rose an MVP to reviving the careers of Nate Robinson, D.J. Augustin and John Lucas III in Chicago, Thibs always gets the most out of each point guard that runs his system.
Rubio did well in his first year with Thibodeau, playing the best basketball of his career after the All-Star break, when he averaged 10.5 points and 16.0 assists. Opposing defenses, though, can easily game plan for Minnesota and its heavy pick-and-roll sets because Rubio is not a threat to score the ball.
There were too many instances in the fourth quarter this year where teams would double-team Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, forcing Rubio to be a playmaker with an intent to score instead of pass. That tactic worked to perfection for opposing teams, as Rubio can’t create a shot for himself when the game slows down in the half-court.
That’s where Rose comes in, whose skills were not properly used with the Knicks. There were countless times this season where Jeff Hornacek would have Rose, one of the best slashers in the game, just sit in the corner while either Carmelo Anthony or Kristaps Porzingis got their isolation number called.
Rose put up healthy numbers in the triangle offense, but he looked disengaged half the time. The 28-year-old thrives in a pick-and-roll setting where there are driving lanes for him to attack and finish at the rim.
Since Rose and Thibodeau have such a strong rapport with each other, and the Knicks need a pass-first point guard to feed and develop Porzingis, it wouldn’t be a surprise if New York and Minnesota complete a sign-and-trade this summer involving Rubio and Rose.
A new report has surfaced that the Knicks remain interested in trading for Rubio. New York can re-sign Rose and then trade him to the Wolves in exchange for Rubio.
Rose is the type of player who feeds off of being around a winning atmosphere and coach. Last month, an NBA executive told the New York Daily News that Rose would “blossom in a solid organization.”
If this trade happens, it’s a win-win for both sides. Thibodeau gets his downhill scorer while the Knicks get their new floor general whose number one priority will be to get Porzingis the ball every possession.
Ashish Mathur is an NBA writer at AmicoHoops. Follow him on Twitter – amathurNBA.