Derrick Rose believes he and Tom Thibodeau always have made for an “odd couple.” To paraphrase another famous New York-based duo that went by that moniker, they fully expect to be able to share a third NBA stop together without driving each other crazy.
Based on their reciprocal compliments of each other throughout this week, there is no reason to believe otherwise about their latest reunion with the Knicks.
“The synergy that we have, I just can’t explain it,” Rose said after making the first appearance of his second stint with Knicks in Monday’s loss in Miami. “We’re an odd couple. We understand the game. We’re students of the game. Wherever I go, wherever he goes, he’s always trying to win and I’m on the same page.”
Rose, now 32, became the youngest player in NBA history (22) to win league MVP honors in their first season together – the point guard’s third year in the league – with Chicago in 2011.
After five seasons together with the Bulls – although Rose missed the entire 2012-13 campaign due to ACL surgery – they also teamed up in 2018-19 with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Thibodeau says one constant through Rose’s career has been the three-time All-Star’s unselfishness and desire to win, attractive traits for a mostly youthful Knicks team that enters Friday’s game in Washington with an 11-15 record after two straight losses to the Heat.
Rose, who averaged 18.0 points per game in 64 appearances for the Knicks in 2016-17, came off the bench and scored 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting in 20 minutes in Monday’s 98-96 defeat following his acquisition the previous day from Detroit.
“He’s always been that way, even early on his career, he was the ultimate teammate,” Thibodeau said. “MVP year, when any of his teammates had a big game, he was excited for them.
“The most important thing was winning. Very unselfish guy, but just a guy that all his teammates loved playing with and loved being around.”
Rose already has attempted to share his experience with young Knicks such as Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin, but Thibodeau also believes the 13-year veteran will have a similar mentoring impact on the rest of his teammates.
“I think there are veteran players that helped him along and now he wants to be that guy to the new guys that are coming in,” Thibodeau said. “I think he can help all our guys. That includes the veterans.
“He’s been through a lot of experiences and he’s still hungry to learn and grow. He’s adapted, he’s added things to his game. He studies what the young guys are doing. He adds that to his game, as well. He’s a great guy to be around. I think we’ll benefit from that.”
Rose eventually should benefit from getting some practice time with the Knicks, too, but his prior familiarity with Thibodeau’s system enabled him to step in and contribute immediately.
His expected pairing off the bench for now with the 21-year-old Quickley provides the Knicks a versatile reserve backcourt duo capable of sharing both guard positions.
“I think the package right now is a basic package for him to come into, and the fact that he’s played for me before so he conceptually understands what we’re trying to do and I think he’ll be able to pick it up very quickly,” Thibodeau said. “His ability to play multiple positions is a big plus. He actually did that in Chicago, but he also did it in Minnesota for me where he played both on the ball and off the ball.”