This could be good for every party: the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose.
When news broke last Friday that Irving wanted out of Cleveland, the Cavs’ kingdom went full Jenga. Irving’s desires to leave toppled the Cavs’ wild offseason. The Cavs appeared to be doomed, destined for one final year of relevancy.
But when the Cavs signed Rose to a one-year, $2.1 million contract Monday, the murmurs of a franchise hurtling toward disaster thinned. The Cavs still have blemishes. Irving doesn’t want to play with James anymore. He wants to be the star somewhere else.
But at least now the Cavs can let Irving depart in peace. Irving can go become a star, and the Cavs can worry about salvaging an offseason that has been so bad, its memory should be seared into the front office’s brains.
Rose isn’t nearly as good as Irving, but he was once. 2011, the year Rose became the youngest player ever to win the NBA MVP award, seems like eons ago. Rose led the Chicago Bulls to the league’s best record, and the Bulls were the top team in the East.
Rose was only 22 when he won MVP, and he was a top-five player in the league. But in 2012, his career went into shambles. After suffering a torn ACL in the first round of the 2012 NBA playoffs, Rose missed the following season. And then after that, he suffered a torn meniscus in 2013.
Since 2014, Rose hasn’t played a full season. But in each season since 2014, he has played in 50 or more games. Near the end of last season, Rose suffered another meniscus tear. He played in 64 games for the New York Knicks.
Though Rose hasn’t been fully healthy since 2012, he had a decent year last season. And that bodes well for the Cavs. He averaged 18.0 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting.
Rose is the type of point guard the Cavs need, especially with Irving likely gone. No longer is he a No. 1 option; he won’t constantly need the ball. But he’s still capable of scoring when necessary.
Rose’s abilities on offense will allow James to fully flourish. The dynamic James and Irving shared always seemed awkward, even though it gave the Cavs a championship in 2016. Irving needed to control the ball, and James did too. This awkwardness made for a Cavs offense that was never as good as it could have been.
Now James can nearly fully control the offense. Rose isn’t a facilitator. He’s essentially going to be a full-time slasher now, penetrating defenses like he used to do in Chicago.
The Rose addition benefits another player who struggled in the Cavs’ system, too: Kevin Love. The awkwardness that was present in James’ and Irving’s on-court relationship spilled into Love’s decreased production.
Some games Love would play as if he was on the Minnesota Timberwolves again, scoring at will and grabbing rebounds with ease. Other games it was easy to forget he was even on the floor.
Love’s role is going to increase assuming Irving is traded. He’s going to earn more shots, and that’s because James will be in full control of the offense.
A franchise that was in peril now appears to be in less peril, but peril nonetheless. At one time, Irving seemed as if he was untouchable. He was too good to be dealt, too valuable for the Cavs’ efforts at winning a title.
But he wants to leave, and now the Cavs can let him.