When Derrick Rose told the Detroit Pistons in February he wanted to be traded to a playoff team, the Los Angeles Clippers were one of the teams interested in acquiring him. However, they didn’t pull the trigger and watched the 2010-11 MVP get dealt to the New York Knicks.
The Knicks and Clippers faced each other at Staples Center on Sunday. LA was the betting favorite to win since they are among the best teams in the NBA, but they lost by six points and watched Rose destroy them for not making the trade at the trade deadline.
Derrick Rose torched the Clippers
The Knicks defeated the Clippers by a final score of 106-100 to improve to 38-30. In a game that featured Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Julius Randle, Rose was the best player on the floor.
In 32 minutes off the bench, Rose put up 25 points, six rebounds, and eight assists while shooting 64.7% from the field and 66.7% from beyond the arc. He started the game 7-of-7 and had 19 points at halftime.
Whether it was George, Leonard, or Rajon Rondo, no one on the Clippers could stop Rose from scoring. The former Chicago Bulls superstar dominated the game with his patented floater and showed off his improved 3-point shot by going 2-of-3 from deep.
The Clippers were linked to Rose at the 2019 trade deadline as well but opted not to trade for him. While they are still considered title contenders, they paid for not trading for the three-time All-Star last season and may pay for it again this season.
Derrick Rose would have helped the Clippers against the Nuggets
The Clippers had a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2020 playoffs. All signs pointed toward Leonard and George leading the team to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
However, the Nuggets won three consecutive games and eliminated the Clippers in historic fashion, as they became the first team in NBA history to come back and win a series down 3-1 twice in the same postseason. Neither Leonard nor George scored in the fourth quarter of Game 7, and George embarrassed himself by hitting the side of the backboard on an open 3-point attempt.
Before the 2019-20 season was suspended in March due to COVID-19, Rose averaged 18.1 points and 5.6 assists for the Pistons in 50 games. His driving, scoring, and playmaking ability would have helped the Clippers defeat the Nuggets since they didn’t have a point guard to set up the offense in the half-court when things slowed down. He’s always been able to get to the basket at will and finish in heavy traffic.
The Clippers didn’t have anyone who could break the Nuggets’ defense down in Game 7 aside from Leonard and George, and both stars struggled mightily. It will be interesting to see how LAC performs in the 2021 postseason and if they will once again be haunted by not trading for Rose.
Former Bulls superstar doesn’t care that he comes off the bench
Elfrid Payton is the Knicks’ starting point guard, but he’s only averaging 21.2 minutes per game since Rose was acquired. The veteran guard played 15 minutes against the Clippers and scored two points.
Rose is playing the crucial minutes for the Knicks, which is why he doesn’t care that he’s coming off the bench despite being better than Payton.
“Whatever the team needs. Like I’ve said, I’m the newcomer. If it’s 10, five, two, it really don’t matter to me as long as we get the win,” Rose said. “The minutes, I really don’t worry about that. I’ll let Thibs worry about that.”
The Knicks are on their way to making the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13. Randle is the team’s MVP, but Rose has played a big part in their turnaround.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.