Derrick Rose came to the Knicks with such high hopes.
In the final year of his contract, Rose — who had been acquired in a trade with the Bulls — was looking to find a permanent home. He was looking to have the kind of big season that would make the Knicks want to re-sign him to a long-term deal despite the fact that this year’s draft is expected to be exceptionally deep in point guard talent.
Suffice to say, this season didn’t work out the way anyone thought it would for Rose or the Knicks. Instead of laying the groundwork for a new contract, Rose now is auditioning for his next job with another team on a nightly basis.
On Wednesday night, it was the Milwaukee Bucks he was looking to impress, and he took advantage of coach Jason Kidd’s strategy of double-teaming Carmelo Anthony. Rose was the lone bright spot in the Knicks’ 104-93 loss as he scored 26 points and shot 13-for-16. It wasn’t only driving layups, either; Rose hit numerous mid-range jumpers, including some off the dribble.
“He was very aggressive,” Anthony said. “He saw how they were guarding me. Every time I touched it, they weren’t letting me look at the rim, which was expected. He took advantage of that. He was penetrating. He was aggressive on the offensive end. He was attacking. That’s the Derrick I love.”
Rose might have been particularly interested in impressing the Bucks, given that his family lives only 90 miles away in Chicago, but right now, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is. Time may be running out for him to show how healthy and in command of his game he is.
With 17 games left, the Knicks are on the precipice of falling out of the playoff picture. Rose’s playing time could decline and coach Jeff Hornacek could decide to give some of his minutes to young guards Ron Baker and Chasson Randle.
While it is not a certainty that the Knicks won’t keep Rose, it doesn’t seem likely. Rose, who never has been a free agent, isn’t sure how the process will go. So rather than be upset about his situation, he is viewing every night as an opportunity.
Rose has avoided major injury with the Knicks, who are 26-39, and has averaged 17.9 points, 4.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 56 games. He has done this despite averaging only one three-point attempt a game, compared with 4.8 in his 2010-11 MVP season and 5.3 two seasons ago.
“I just want to be consistent,” Rose said in explaining his goal for this season. “When I came back [in 2014-15] from my injuries, I had a chip on my shoulder and I wanted to prove everyone wrong. I was launching more threes than I was supposed to. Now, knowing my game and knowing what I’m good at, what areas I can improve in, I just want to be a consistent threat whenever I have the ball. I believe that’s how I’ve been all year.”
Rose seems to be sprinkling a few more jumpers into his game as he tries to show what’s in his repertoire.
“Yeah, it’s a part of my game,” he said. “Mid-range. I’m building my game throughout my career now, where early on in the season, I was driving. And I’m waiting to shoot the three-ball. By me not shooting the three, doesn’t mean I can’t adapt to the game. I can still find a way.’’