Knicks’ Overhaul A Chain Reaction From Rose Deal

When the New York Knicks traded for Derrick Rose, it began a chain reaction which led to a complete overhaul of the team’s projected roster for the 2016-17 season.

“The initial beginning of this started with the trade for Derrick Rose,” Knicks Team President Phil Jackson said. “It kind of accentuated how we were going to approach this free agent year and the direction that we wanted to head towards — a team with a little more experience, a little more competitive power and a team that we hope will be able to mesh their talents together and provide us an opportunity to challenge in this Eastern Conference.”

The trade for Rose instantly upgraded the Knicks at the point guard position, and it also caught the attention of Rose’s teammate with the Chicago Bulls, free agent Joakim Noah. New York needed to address a gaping hole in their front court, so Jackson’s attention immediately turned towards securing Noah.

The Knicks signed Noah, a native of New York City, to a four-year, $72 million deal, which, according to Noah, may not have even become reality had it not been for Rose’s recruiting.

“No, I probably wouldn’t have,” said Noah on if he’d be a Knick had Rose not been acquired. “You don’t really hear too many situations where a center gets traded for a point guard, especially a point guard like Derrick Rose, who was a hometown favorite. I would have never thought that he would have left Chicago. It’s pretty amazing that he was the hometown guy showing me around and now he’s on my turf. I get to play with my brother. That’s very special.”

Noah’s a two-time NBA All-Star and was the 2013-14 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, he played eight seasons in Chicago. Noah, like Rose, brings an injury history worthy of concern. Two serious shoulder injuries limited Noah to only 29 games played last season, and he averaged 4.3 points and 8.8 rebounds. The Knicks didn’t give Noah a four-year deal based off of last season – they’re banking on a return to form as a defensive standout and a player rejuvenated off the chance to play for his hometown team.

Noah, perhaps knowing the Knicks were still in need of securing a shooting guard, reportedly put on his recruiting hat to help them secure their next targeted free agent, Courtney Lee.

Lee won’t be counted on to carry the scoring load, however, he’s a solid fit for New York’s plan. He’ll play good defense and has shown he can knock down the three-pointer, two vital keys which have been missing from New York’s backcourt.

The Knicks signed Lee to a four-year deal, reportedly worth $50 million. Lee, 30 years old and now playing for his seventh NBA team, may have found stability with New York. Noah’s recruiting call apparently played a major role in selling Lee on the Knicks.

“He reached out, and he’s so passionate on the phone,” said Lee about Noah’s recruiting skills. “He’s hungry. He’s eager. He was just so animated, and he was just telling me we could do something special. If we win in this city, it would be like playing for no city ever. He stayed on me, and we got it done.”

“Acquiring Derrick Rose through a trade and securing Joakim Noah through free agency has given us a great ability to choose players that complement the incumbents Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingus,” Jackson said. “As an organization we look towards our next challenge of blending the skills of this talented group.”

It’s been a long time since there’s been this much word of NBA free agents showing this type of interest in playing for the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony, at 32 years old and with an increased awareness of his window of opportunity to win, needed more help. Jackson, scrapping his plans of rebuilding and perhaps noticing his own window beginning to close, was right to act now and see what was available.

The Knicks have reloaded. The starting lineup for the 2016-17 season projects to be Noah, Porzingus, Anthony, Lee, and Rose. Jackson added additional depth with the free agent signing of Brandon Jennings, Lance Thomas also re-signed with the team. Jennings, Thomas, along with the signings of Willy Hernangomez, Marshall Plumlee, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas, give the Knicks plenty of grit and potential off the bench.

New York is coming off a 32-win season, and expectations for a playoff push, however, have now escalated. The health of the Knicks will be a focal point throughout the upcoming season. The flipside is this is a roster compiled of players motivated for a variety of reasons.

Noah, when asked how good can the Knicks be, was about as honest as can be.

“To be honest with you I have no idea,” Noah said. “I love the makeup, the characters that Phil put together. Now it’s on us to jell. That’s a real thing. Chemistry is everything. Everybody has to put their egos and what they think it should look like to the side and make the right sacrifices to be the best team possible. That doesn’t always happen. Time will tell. There’s no other place I’d rather find out.”

If it all comes together, the Knicks could be contending for a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference.

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