At least the Knicks have their first-round pick this year.
There’s still more than half the season left, plenty of time for the Knicks to make a run to the playoffs in the wide-open East. It’s also ample time for the Knicks, who have missed the playoffs the last three years, to continue the slide that they started in mid-December that has dropped them from third in the East to 10th.
But unlike last season when the Knicks’ pick went to Denver from the Carmelo Anthony trade, they have theirs this year. They could use it to draft a point guard or as part of a package to acquire one since that position once again has become a shaky one after recent events.
Just last month, there was talk about Derrick Rose signing a long-term deal with the Knicks when he becomes a free agent.
The Knicks always were going to wait it out to make sure he remained physically healthy. But then his mental health came into question after he disappeared Monday afternoon, flew to Chicago to be with his mother, and never contacted the Knicks until that night.
As the point guard of the team, and a leader by extension, Rose behaved selfishly by not giving the Knicks the courtesy of a phone call or text. Your point guard needs to think about the team first — always.
The Knicks had no idea where Rose was and were genuinely concerned about his health. Rose returned the next day, said he “got over it right when I was with my family.”
Rose called it “a family issue” but several reports indicated he was overwhelmed mentally and considered taking a leave of absence. Rose said it will never happen again, but how can the Knicks be sure?
To Rose’s credit, in the first two games after this episode, he has played well. He nearly willed the Knicks to a win in Philadelphia — where they lost on a last-second shot — and made his presence felt in Thursday’s victory over the Bulls.
If Rose can continue proving he’s physically and mentally stable and helps the Knicks reach the playoffs, maybe they will consider bringing him back. Maybe. He is a dynamic talent. And let’s be honest: the results matter most.
If you help a team win you’re valuable and some of your warts are overlooked.
Rose has a long way to go to fully regain their trust and prove his worth. At least the Knicks have their first-round pick.
NOT TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE
Hall of Famer Allen Iverson was sitting courtside for the Knicks’ win over the Bulls Thursday. Iverson hugged and talked to Rose during the game and Kristaps Porzingis afterward.
“Man, you’re heading in the right direction,” Iverson told Porzingis. “You’re doing everything the right way. I love to see it, bruh.”
Good thing Iverson didn’t talk about practice with Porzingis. Surprisingly Rose said it was the first time he ever met Iverson.
“He is an icon,” Rose said. “He is somebody that I looked up to ever since I was younger. He changed the game on and off the court. One thing I learned from him, he was always himself.”
When asked what they said, Rose responded, “That’s hood love. I love hood love right there. You don’t got to say much.”
The starters for next month’s All-Star Game in New Orleans will be announced Thursday. Here are our picks:
East: Backcourt: Isaiah Thomas (Boston) and DeMar DeRozan (Toronto); Frontcourt: LeBron James (Cleveland), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee) and Jimmy Butler (Chicago).
West: Backcourt: Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City), James Harden (Houston); Frontcourt: Kevin Durant (Golden State), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio) and Anthony Davis (New Orleans).
Candidates: Durant, Harden, James, Westbrook
Midseason winner: Harden and Westbrook are neck-and-neck. They’re both having the best years of their careers. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double, but Harden leads the league in assists and the Rockets have the NBA’s fourth best record so he gets the edge.
Coach of the Year
Candidates: Mike D’Antoni (Houston), Billy Donovan (Oklahoma City), David Fizdale (Memphis), Gregg Popovich (San Antonio), Quin Snyder (Utah)
Midseason winner: D’Antoni brought his fast-paced system to the Rockets, gave Harden the keys to the offense, and opened up the offense even more. It’s working, maybe better than it did in Phoenix.
Rookie of the Year
Candidates: Malcolm Brogdon (Milwaukee), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia), Buddy Hield (New Orleans), Dario Saric (Philadelphia).
Midseason winner: Embiid has been worth the wait. After being injured the past two years, the 2014 first-round pick is averaging nearly 20 points despite being on a minutes’ restriction.
Sixth Man of the Year
Candidates: Marco Bellinelli (Charlotte), Jamaal Crawford (Clippers), Eric Gordon (Houston), Zach Randolph (Memphis), Lou Williams (Lakers).
Midseason winner: Williams leads his team in scoring off the bench, but Gordon is scoring more and doing it for one of the best teams in the league. His shot selection could be better, but his impact is evident.
Defensive Player of the Year
Candidates: Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Rudy Gobert (Utah), DeAndre Jordan (Clippers), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio), Hassan Whiteside (Utah).
Midseason winner: Close call here but the more versatile Leonard, who guards many positions, gets the nod over Gobert, the Stifle Tower who anchors the league’s best defense in Utah.
Most Improved Player
Candidates: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Harrison Barnes (Dallas), Avery Bradley (Boston), Zach LaVine (Minnesota), Porzingis, Myles Turner (Indiana).
Midseason winner: Antetokounmpo is one of the most versatile players in the league, and has blossomed since more was put on his plate by coach Jason Kidd. Antetokounmpo will be a first-time All-Star this year.
GIVE AND GO
* Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas appreciates hearing the “KOOOOOZ” chants at Madison Square Garden, but the 27-year-old rookie from Lithuania initially thought he was getting booed.
* Former Knick Pablo Prigioni, a key player on their 54-win team in 2012-13, announced his retirement this week on Twitter.
* Kyle Korver will get more open looks than ever now that he’s playing with James, who told his new teammate, “If you want to fit in, shoot the ball every time you get it.” James said he watched 25 minutes of film on Korver after Cleveland acquired him to learn where he likes to catch the ball. “From my perspective, as far as the quarterback,” James said, “I see where my receiver likes the ball.”