The Knicks are finalizing a trade to reacquire the former N.B.A. All-Star guard Derrick Rose from the Detroit Pistons, according to two people briefed on the transaction. The deal will reunite Rose with Tom Thibodeau, who coached Rose in Minnesota and Chicago and now leads the Knicks.
The trade, which will send the out-of-favor guard Dennis Smith Jr. and a second-round draft pick to Detroit for Rose, was nearing completion on Sunday, according to the people, who were not authorized to discuss the trade publicly. The Athletic first reported the looming agreement.
Rose, 32, is a decade removed from his Most Valuable Player Award-winning season with the Chicago Bulls in 2010-11. He has rebounded from a serious knee injury during the 2012 playoffs to establish himself as a productive scoring guard off the bench. Rose spent one tumultuous season with the Knicks, in 2016-17, and is known to be a favorite of Thibodeau, who coached him for five seasons in Chicago and parts of two seasons in Minnesota.
The Knicks lack scoring punch in the backcourt, and Rose averaged 14.2 points and 4.2 assists in 15 games this season for the rebuilding Pistons before he and Detroit management mutually agreed recently that he would sit out until the team could trade him.
Thibodeau, who has shown more comfort playing veteran players, will face the immediate riddle of how to blend Rose with the promising rookie Immanuel Quickley, who is already popular with Knicks fans. Quickley is off to a strong start (12.4 points in just 19 minutes per game) after he was selected out of Kentucky with the 25th overall pick in the draft in November.
When asked Sunday about his reputation for preferring veterans, Thibodeau tried to brush off the question by reminding reporters that Rose was playing for him at age 22 when he achieved his greatest success.
“Derrick Rose is the youngest M.V.P. in the history of the league,” Thibodeau said. “So I don’t worry about that stuff.”
Rose will join the veteran forward Taj Gibson, whom the Knicks re-signed last month after waiving him in November, in playing under Thibodeau in all three of his stops as an N.B.A. head coach. The Knicks, at 11-14 after losing to Miami on Sunday, hold the East’s No. 8 seed and have exceeded expectations in Thibodeau’s first season.
Smith’s brief time with the Knicks was a major disappointment. The Dallas Mavericks drafted him with the No. 9 overall pick in 2017, and he was initially billed as the centerpiece of the team’s much-debated trade in January 2019 that sent Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas from the Knicks. Smith, now 23, has appeared in just three of the Knicks’ 25 games this season. It had become so clear he had no future in New York that he recently asked to be sent to the Knicks’ G League affiliate to be able to work on his game.
Rose’s ties to the Knicks go beyond his relationship with Thibodeau. He played at the University of Memphis for John Calipari, who now coaches at Kentucky and is close with the Knicks’ president, Leon Rose, and his top aide, William Wesley. Four former Kentucky players are on the Knicks’ roster.
Rose averaged 18 points per game in his lone Knicks season. In 2016, during the preseason, he traveled to Los Angeles several times to testify in a civil case in which he was accused of sexual assault. He was found not liable. He also left the team abruptly on a game day in January of that season and had season-ending knee surgery in April 2017.