LOS ANGELES • Free agent point guard Derrick Rose is set to sign a one-year, US$2.1 million (S$2.8 million) deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, reported US media.
Rose, the youngest player to be named National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player (MVP) when he won the award in 2011, met with Cavs officials in Ohio on Monday. Cleveland.com reported that he had agreed to join the Eastern Conference champions "after spending the day discussing how the team will return to the (NBA) Finals without Kyrie Irving".
Cleveland's talks with Rose escalated in the wake of reports that 25-year-old guard Irving has requested a trade, indicating he wanted to step out of the shadow of Cavs superstar LeBron James.
Rose, 28, could add a backcourt spark for the Cavaliers as they try to challenge the Golden State Warriors. The Cavs reached the NBA finals each of the past three seasons, falling to the Warriors in 2015, defeating them last year, and falling again to them this season.
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If Rose does join the Cavs, Golden State and Cleveland would have every NBA MVP from 2009 to 2016. James won the award in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. Warriors forward Kevin Durant won it in 2014 while playing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Warriors guard Stephen Curry was 2015-16 MVP.
Rose averaged 18 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 64 games for the New York Knicks last season. He was acquired in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, but last season ended in another injury as he hit free agency for the first time.
Rose's time with the Bulls was marred by a series of knee inju ries. That he will now sign for the veteran's minimum is a reflection of his market value and the interest in his services, with many believing that he cannot replicate the same form earlier in his career.
What made him such a unique and brilliant player was his athleticism, explosion with the ball and ability to change directions at will.
But after several knee injuries, that same burst is not there. Without it, he is still able to create offence for himself, but is a relatively poor shooter and defender with a below average assist rate.
Still, on a Cavs team, Rose will have plenty of room to operate.
James seemed excited enough. Yesterday, the three-time NBA champion tweeted five rose emojis and wrote: "Let's Rock G!!"
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST