*Note: Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be posting grades for many of the Wolves decisions made this offseason, one by one. Previously we’ve covered Tyus Jones leaving for Memphis, the draft night trade to acquire Jarrett Culver and now Derrick Rose leaving via free agency.*
Derrick Rose had quite a resurgence in the 2018-19 season with the Wolves, but the Wolves were wise to not get into a bidding war over his services over the life of his next contract.
Rose was a fan favorite in Minnesota, and produced one of the most memorable nights of the season when he scored a career-high 50 points against the Utah Jazz on Halloween. Throughout the first half of the season he was one of the team’s best players, right behind Karl-Anthony Towns. Rose finished second among Western Conference guards in all-star fan votes, shot a career-high in 3-point percentage, and looked as bouncy as he had been since he first started dealing with knee injuries.
The second half of the season was mightily different. Rose couldn’t stay healthy, couldn’t knock down shots, and ultimately looked like a shell of the player that he was over the first 40-something games. There were still little flashes of brilliance, but his game as a whole appeared to be light years away from what it was on October 31.
Once Ryan Saunders took over as coach, Rose played in just 19 games and shot an abysmal 12.5% from behind the 3-point line. That was a far cry from the 32 games played under Tom Thibodeau and the unbelievable 46.2% mark from deep in the first half of the season. When on the floor Rose was mostly a positive, at least on the offense end of the floor. According to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, Rose was by far the best offensive option for the Wolves at point guard with a 1.25 ORPM. It just so happens that he was also one of the worst defenders in the league at his position, turning in a 2.53 DRPM, finishing 94th among point guards and just slightly better than Jerryd Bayless’ -2.84 DRPM.
Despite the poor defensive metrics, there’s reason to believe in Rose. His offensive talent is undeniable and enough to think that he can be a help to a team. The Wolves certainly have needed creators on that end of the floor and he filled one of those holes when he was healthy. The Detroit Pistons signing him indicates that they think he can do just that. With that said, a two-year deal worth $15 million seems like a bit of an overpay for a guy that’s played more than 51 games just twice since the 2010-11 season.
Rose certainly could have helped the Wolves on the court this upcoming season, but the issue at hand is getting him healthy enough to be on the court and then keeping him on it. Those things haven’t been the case for nearly the entirety of his career, and there’s no reason to think that will change right now.
Rose will be turning 31 before the 2019-20 season starts. That doesn’t bode well to see an improvement in his availability, and it doesn’t match up with the timeline that the Wolves have put in place for Towns. They’ve shown this as they handed out a number of one-year contracts as opposed to long-term commitments.
Having Rose around next season certainly would have been exciting at times, but at the price he would have cost, watching him walk to Detroit was absolutely the right move.