Before he ever got clearance to step onto the floor with the Knicks with physicals completed to make the trade official, Derrick Rose had already made an impression on the Knicks.
Rose arrived in Miami Monday night and sat down with Immanuel Quickley, easing any tension on how the veteran would impact the opportunities for the rookie.
"I got a chance to talk to him last night at dinner a little bit," Quickley said. "He just stressed to me — first of all he gave me his number, said anything I need just hit him. But he sat down with me a little bit, me and Obi [Toppin] actually, just told us he’s here to help us, he’s here to help us grow and things like that. It’s good to get a chance to talk to him a little bit last night."
Rose, 32, made his second Knicks debut Tuesday night in Miami, checking in with 3:27 left in the first quarter against the Heat. The trade reunited him with head coach Tom Thibodeau. Rose had starred for Thibodeau in Chicago and then teamed with him to resurrect his career in Minnesota. What his role will be now and what he can contribute in this latest incarnation remains to be seen, but the Knicks have high hopes.
"It’s obviously someone I’m familiar with. We’ve been through a lot of things together," Thibodeau said. "But the biggest part is what I felt he could contribute to our team. I’ve always been partial to good players. If someone is a good player I’m interested. And I think he’ll add a lot to our team. I know his character. I know the type of teammate he is. He’ll accept any role. You can start him, you can bring him off the bench, you can play him short minutes, long minutes. He’s telling me this is as healthy as he’s been."
Rose arrives with the team that is walking a strange tightrope. They clearly are not good enough to be a serious contender, but currently sit among the playoff teams in the Eastern Conference. And that means a decision whether to push for a playoff berth with the help of a veteran like Rose, who may not be the player he once was, but can still score at a productive level, or to provide minutes to a youth movement and continue on a slow rebuild.
"We’ll take a look at it," Thibodeau said. "Initially, he’ll probably start coming off the bench. I like the way both groups have played. And we’ve been relatively healthy up to this point. So you always have to be prepared. But my job is to make sure the guys who aren’t in the rotation right now are staying ready. Because when they get their opportunity I expect and want them to play well for our team."
Quickley has come off the bench for the Knicks behind Elfrid Payton this season, but has seen his minutes grow as his play has commanded it. He arrived in the league as a combo guard, having played off the ball during his two seasons at Kentucky.
"I have no idea how it will work out," Quickley said. "I’ll let the coaches handle all that. But as far as me, I know I’m a versatile player. That’s something I stressed before the draft, that I can play on or off the ball. So just being able to be that type of player I can fit into any system any way. I feel like he’s a versatile player as well, just watching him play. He can shoot it, get in the lane and create. And then on defense, I feel like we can both defend as well. So just being versatile players on and off the ball, I feel like it gives us an advantage."
For now, Quickley is intent on taking Rose up on his offers of help and just learning what he can from the former MVP.
"Anytime you can get a chance to pick someone’s brain who’s been through pretty much everything — playoffs, everything, as far as MVP, it’s always a good chance to learn from somebody who has experience," Quickley said. "That’s the best teacher as far as picking his brain through everything he’s known about the game. It's something I’m looking forward to."