On Wednesday morning, two days after Derrick Rose performed his Houdini act before the Knicks took on the Pelicans at Madison Square Garden, ESPN.com's Ian Begley attempted to sift through the various machinations at work within the Knicks organization and around Rose in hopes of figuring out what's next for the embattled former MVP. Begley also included a tasty tidbit about what Rose thinks his worth will be when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. According to Begley, some in Rose's orbit have told friends he's going to try and get a maximum contract this summer.
Knicks fans might scoff at the suggestion, and they have every right to based off what Rose has done on the court so far this year; they could scoff especially lustily after his no-show (and no call, and no text) against the Pellies, which all but assures he won't be back with the orange and blue for the 2017-18 season. But, crazy as it might seem, there are teams out there who might be willing to offer Rose a max deal or something near it if he is able to show some more concrete vestiges of his MVP past.
There are obviously holes in Rose's game, namely defense and three-point shooting. He's a sieve for opposing guards, and shooting well below average—24.5 percent, if you must know—from long range. But Rose is still one of the fastest guys in the league, and his ability to slice through a defense and finish at the rim in mini transitions remains a delight for fans. Then again, he's also shooting an alarming 54 percent once he gets to the rim. But if his inclusion among the top-5 guards in the first All-Star tallies is any indication—he was ahead of Kyle Lowry and John Wall, somehow—Rose is still a player whose name fans recognize and see play.
A max contract this summer is likely just wishful thinking on Rose's part, but here are three possible landing spots for him this summer that might be willing to roll the dice on deal that will pay him in the vicinity of $150 million through the 2022 season.
Dave Joerger's bunch has gotten a surprisingly effective year out of Ty Lawson off the bench (for less than $1 million, too!), but that's primarily against bench units, with Darren Collison serving as the starter in the majority of their games so far this year. Among regular rotation players, only DeMarcus Cousins and Kosta Koufos are signed through the 2017-18 season. This is not to say that the Kings would be smart to pay up for Rose, but couldn't you just see GM Vlade Divac and owner Vivek Ranadive—innovator of the disruptive 4-on-5 cherry-picking plan—splurging on Rose as a ham-fisted attempt to entice DeMarcus Cousins into signing the designated player extension this summer? Whether that gambit worked or not, it would certainly double as the most Kings move ever. There's no way Chris Paul or Jeff Teague or Kyle Lowry or even Jrue Holiday—the top free agent point guards this summer—are going to Sacramento, so is it that insane to imagine Vivek and Vlade defaulting to Rose? Remember, this is the team's first year in a new arena, and they want to sell tickets.
Mark Cuban has been looking for a transcendent point guard since J-Kidd left after the team's 2011 title; as Deron Williams' body has betrayed his talent, they're still looking. Dirk may or may not be back next season, but the Mavericks will have the cap room, regardless, and adding Rose to a core that includes Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews sounds like something Cuban could talk himself into one night after four or five Patron shots. Seth Curry has had moments off the bench this year, but it's hard to see him getting promoted to a starting role if Cuban can find an upgrade on the open market. Dallas is likely to go after the other available free agent point guards, but if they strike out, as Dallas has more than once these last few years—looking at you, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard—Rose might end up as his backup, backup, backup plan later in July. Possibly an expensive one.
There needs to be a big caveat with this one. The Nuggets are primed with a ton of potential trade assets and they'll be hunting for a good deal leading up to the Feb. 23 trade deadline, too. But the Emmanuel Mudiay experiment seems like a bust—the turnovers and shooting have been bad enough thus far to negate some promising playmaking—and the Denver frontcourt is already pretty stacked. Plus, as we saw with Denver's Dwyane Wade flirtation in free agency last summer, the Nugs are serious about being a contender and a genuine landing spot in free agency. A max deal for someone like Rose—who, to repeat, is definitely no longer a max guy—might be the only way to get a name player to Denver. Well, that and some legal Sour Deez, but we're here to talk about contracts.
Minnesota Timberwolves (Honorable Mention)
Ricky Rubio might be the only other starting point guard who shoots worse from deep than Rose. Among starters, only Elfrid Payton is worse, but Rubio is just slightly better at 26.5 percent. Of course, Rubio is also a very valuable player: a heady defender, an elite passer, and Tom Thibodeau trusts him more than rookie Kris Dunn or polished sophomore Tyus Jones. On top of that, the Wolves would need to deal some guys away to open up room under the cap, and with lucrative extensions coming for Wiggins and, one year later, Towns, that's just not very likely. But Tom Thibodeau is also the general manager and someone who won a lot of games with Derrick Rose as his point guard. He might want to add his former point guard to jump-start a team with tremendous talent that hasn't translated to much on-court success just yet. There's no way he's giving close to $150 million over the next five years, but that's probably true of all these teams. Except Sacramento, who knows with those guys.