The Cleveland Cavaliers have a few areas they have to address in the offseason, via trade and/or free agency.
Cleveland has to improve their wing outlook to take pressure off of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley, and it’d be sensible for Cleveland to bring in a backup 5. Along with those two needs, Cleveland should maybe look to sign another reserve lead guard.
Reserve lead guard is perhaps not as crucial as finding ways to help the wing and/or backup 5 situation, but given his rather forgettable past season and it being reasonable to question Ricky Rubio’s long-term durability, maybe Cleveland does sign another reserve point guard. Alternatively, the Cavaliers could feasibly look to acquire one as part of a possible trade package.
Regarding a few possible free agent targets to bolster their point guard depth, guys such as Gabe Vincent, Reggie Jackson and Patrick Beverley could all aid Cleveland, and could be viable shooters in their minutes.
Recently, though, something that may have piqued the interest of some Cavs fans could be the possibility of Cleveland bringing Derrick Rose back via free agency. The New York Knicks declined Rose’s $15.6 million team option for next season, per a report from Steve Popper of Newsday Sports. Since that time, Adam Wells of Bleacher Report suggested how the Cavaliers could be a club that’s a logical landing spot for Rose, with the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls being others, for now.
Should the Cavaliers consider reuniting with the former NBA MVP in Rose in free agency?
Rose didn’t play much with the Knicks this last season, but in recent prior campaigns, he did make his presence felt regularly in a bench role, both with them and prior to then, with the Detroit Pistons.
Rose had 12.0 points per game in 2021-22 season with New York, and with Detroit and New York in the season preceding that, had 14.7 points per outing. Over the past three seasons, Rose’s production has come in almost exclusively a bench role, with him registering only seven starts in that time; his minutes-share has been 21.9 in that span.
For a Cavaliers bench that needs more of an offensive lift, the team at least theoretically targeting Rose could be sensible. When he’s had chances to give his clubs a spark, he has done so on a number of occasions, and there’s reason to believe he could do the same for Cleveland.
It wasn’t on display as much in the past two seasons, for various reasons, but if he’s in games regularly, Rose can still score as a bench on-ball player.
Given his injury history, he’s not the driver he once was, of course. Still, he can get downhill in secondary transition and Rose is an adept pull-up shooter in the mid-range and can still separate enough to get to in-rhythm looks and floaters.
If the Cavaliers were to sign Rose, he could give them a viable bench primary playmaker to have for stretches when Garland or Mitchell are being staggered, too. Rose is still capable of getting others quality looks from his driving pressure, pull-up play and he’s a threat in pick-and-roll situations that defenses must always account for.
For stretches off the bench, Cleveland could count on Rose to make good decisions as a vet who has been in so many different situations over the years, and while he’s not the passer of Ricky Rubio, Rose’s scoring skill set can still open up shooters and dump-offs to bigs. Those are things to keep in mind with him as a possible depth signing.
However, the kicker when it comes to Rose is unfortunately the unknown. He was out of the Knicks rotation for the most part last season, and in the 2021-22 campaign, he was limited to only 26 games. He’s had ACL and meniscus injuries throughout his career, and it’s long been a reality that had been a farcry from his MVP form with Chicago back in 2011 given the injuries he’s endured.
Rose appeared in 50 games in the 2020-21 and 2019-20 seasons, and he has not played in 60 or more games since 2016-17. With that being the case, and the Cavs needing bench guys who are going to be available, especially, Cleveland should probably pass on a Rose reunion.
He’d be a much better fit in an on-floor sense now that back in the 2017-18 campaign when he, LeBron James and company were in an awkward fit, and the Cavs could use him as a veteran presence. The constant availability questions with Rose should steer Cleveland away, though, and he’s not getting any younger as he’ll head into his age-35 season in 2023-24.
The Verdict: Probably not
Cleveland would be better served targeting the likes of Jackson or Beverley as possible upgrades or alternatives to Ricky Rubio. Meanwhile, it has been a rumored possibility that Rose could possibly end up back with the Knicks on a cheaper deal. Either way, the Cavaliers probably wouldn’t be in the right to bring Rose back, given the obvious concerns.