Detroit Pistons: Trading Derrick Rose isn’t the only option

PORTLAND, OREGON - FEBRUARY 23: Derrick Rose #25 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OREGON - FEBRUARY 23: Derrick Rose #25 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons have a decision to make with Derrick Rose. Don’t be so quick to dismiss him.

As the Detroit Pistons endure another postseason on the outside looking in, it’s easy to eye the reset button. Detroit has two All-Stars with market value that’s at least worth exploring, as well as a young core that could create a solid foundation for a rebuild.

With recently-hired general manager Troy Weaver committed to restoring the Pistons’ greatness, however, all options need to be considered.

One could argue that the most appealing option for the Pistons would be to find a potential trade suitor for Derrick Rose. Rose, 31, is coming off of a resurgent season in Detroit that saw him appear in 50 of a possible 66 games.

Injury concerns remain, but Rose has shed the label of a net-negative player and has emerged as an individual who can play winning basketball.

On one hand, that offers the perfect reason for the Pistons to trade the veteran scoring guard while his market value is high. On the other, however, is the possibility that Detroit could return to prominence sooner than expected.

Health permitting, the Pistons could return to the Playoffs in 2020-21—and Rose could be a driving force behind that success.

Offensive Production

Rose burst back onto the scene in 2019-20 by playing at a level that even his most harsh of critics had to praise him for. He played a complete offensive game, scoring at all three levels and averaging his highest assists tally since 2011-12.

Even if Rose isn’t locked in as the full-time starting point guard—NBA Draft pending—he could still be a key piece for a Pistons resurgence.

Rose finished 2019-20 with averages of 18.1 points and 5.6 assists in 26.0 minutes per game. That translates to averages of 25.1 points—a career-high—and 7.7 assists—the second-highest mark of his career—per 36 minutes.

Rose may or may not be able to average 30-plus minutes per game, but at under $7.7 million in 2020-21 salary, he doesn’t necessarily need to.

Rose is an offensive spark plug who bottoms out at being able to break down a set defense and create effective offense. In 2019-20, he shot 49.0 percent from the field and 87.1 percent from the free throw line.

Throw in an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.21 and 42.2 percent shooting on catch and shoot three-point field goals, and Rose is an offensive standout.

Value To Winning

For as exciting as it may be to see a former MVP overcome injury woes to produce strong numbers, the reality remains that Rose has failed to win in recent years. He hasn’t averaged upwards of 30 minutes per game since 2016-17 and has been accused of having a dated game.

The reality of Rose’s career, however, is that he’s consistently stepped up on big stages—and, in 2019-20, actually did play winning basketball.

Detroit finished 2019-20 with a net rating of -3.4. That’s not the most encouraging number, but it was the third-best mark of any Piston who played upwards of 1,000 minutes. It’s also strong when one considers the most important context.

In the 1,895 minutes that the Pistons played without Rose on the court, their net rating was -4.5—1.1 points per 100 possessions worse than when he was available.

It’s also worth noting that Rose notoriously steps up during the postseason. That includes 2017-18, when he averaged 14.2 points in just 23.8 minutes on a slash line of .509/.700/.857 during a five-game series against the 65-win Houston Rockets.

If the Pistons manage to build a postseason-caliber team for the upcoming season, having Rose at the point guard position would be an absolute plus.

The Blake Griffin Factor

When it comes to Rose, one simply can’t discuss trade possibilities without acknowledging the potential for injuries to play a factor. Although he’s been much healthier in recent seasons than he was during the first half of the 2010s, he’s still missed extensive time.

That includes 2019-20, when Rose missed 16 games due to injury—albeit after appearing in a more than respectable 50 games.

In saying that, the notion that trading Rose during the offseason is the only option is one worth contesting. It’s possible that he’ll never be as valuable as he is in this moment, which lends credence to the belief that a contender should trade for him.

Rose could also have value to the Pistons, however, as this is a team that has a veteran in their prime on a contract that will be difficult to move: Blake Griffin.

Griffin, also 31, played at an All-NBA level when he led the Pistons to an improbable postseason appearance in 2018-19. Injuries sidelined him in 2019-20, but with a massive contract limiting trade options, Detroit may attempt to recreate that magic in 2020-21.

If that proves to be the decision, having a productive veteran like Rose would take a great deal of pressure off of Griffin as a scorer and playmaker.

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The Detroit Pistons certainly have reason to consider trading Derrick Rose, but they need to evaluate all options before doing so.