Knicks, Bulls have point guard fights in common

There are so many candidates to explain the failings and disappointment of these Knicks. You can start with the top two decorated members of last year’s 41-31 team that finished fourth in the Eastern Conference.

You can start with Julius Randle, last year’s most improved player in the entire league, who didn’t have a season anywhere remotely like what he had last year when he did just about anything and everything the Knicks could have asked of him . And you can start with Tom Thibodeau, whose work was exceptional in 2020-21 but whose daily performance this year hasn’t been nearly the same.

all true All fair. All of it.

But there was another key member of that team who emerged a few months into the program last year and was rightly universally praised for bringing a great deal of professionalism and aplomb to the Knicks’ process. Derrick Rose’s maiden voyage as a Knick might resemble a nightmare, but his encore last season was a good story all round.

Derrick Rose
NBAE via Getty Images

But Rose hasn’t played since picking up a 12-minute, 11-second shift in the 29th game of the season in a 116-103 win over the Rockets. Not long after, he underwent ankle surgery. The Knicks’ record after that game was 13-16. They are there 20-26. Add in the five games Rose previously missed and the Knicks are 21-30 without him.

Tom Thibodeau said ahead of Monday’s game against the Bulls that Rose’s status is up in the air for the rest of the season. He ran, worked on his conditioning, did basketball drills, but no contact. It seems pointless at this point to let him do that just to come back for a few meaningless games.

“Look, all teams have injuries,” Thibodeau said. “It gives other guys, younger guys, an opportunity and a chance to step up and I think our young guys have done that. They hope that a veteran like Derrick will attack his rehab and in that way serve as a role model for the younger players and he definitely has.”

Point guard, of course, has been a chronic affliction for the Knicks for years. Derek Harper was probably the last reliable person they had. Raymond Felton has had some wonderful prosperity cramps for the Knicks (the first time, anyway; it’s best just not to think about the second time). Stephon Marbury has had his segments of brilliance, but his time here is not fondly remembered. Jason Kidd was great for the Knicks in 2012-13, but he had one foot in retirement the whole time.

Lonzo ball
NBAE via Getty Images

This is not an uncommon complaint. There was a time when the Bulls, the Knicks’ Monday opponents, looked like they could win 65 games this year. But on January 14, when they were 27-13, something terrible happened: Lonzo Ball went down with a knee injury.

The Bulls are still impressive. But they entered Madison Square Garden with a 16-18 record without the ball, their dynamic point guard and half of last summer’s brilliant 1-2 free agency pickup along with DeMar DeRosen. There’s hope the Bulls can bring him back before the playoffs, but they also halted his rehab last week.

“The feeling was, let’s really back off on what he’s doing and let him, I don’t want to use the word ‘rest’ because it’s not like he’s sitting around doing nothing – he’s doing weight training and that kind of thing of things,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said last week. “But take a break from running and try to ramp it up.”

The Bulls are hoping they can bring him back because they saw what the Knicks saw this year: Life without your playmaker isn’t real basketball life at all. The Knicks learned this the hard way for years, and the hard way this year, and until they find a long-term fix…

More long nights await you. And more long seasons. Knicks, Bulls have point guard fights in common


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