By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and in what could prove to be the first of many trades, the Detroit Pistons flipped veteran guard Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks, receiving Dennis Smith Jr. and a future second-round pick in return. Smith Jr. has been a massive disappointment since a promising start to his career, but he’ll likely slot into a heavy load of minutes as a member of the talent-starved backcourt in Detroit. With rookie Killian Hayes sidelined for the foreseeable future, Smith Jr. will likely be given every opportunity to salvage his career.
As for Rose, the former MVP has had a renaissance of sorts as a valuable supporting player for the Pistons. Now, he’s heading to the Knicks in a move that can best be described as curious. New York boasts a wealth of guards on the roster, with a glut of veterans hindering impressive rookie Immanuel Quickley’s development already. That issue is likely only going to get worse with Rose around. The Knicks aren’t built to contend this season, or frankly, next season, but Quickley is a vital part of the team’s future. Hopefully, he continues to be a part of its present.
Hawks second-year wing De’Andre Hunter will likely miss the next two months thanks to his lingering knee issue requiring surgery. Hunter has been a breakout contributor for Atlanta following an up-and-down rookie season, and his extended absence will hurt his team’s chances of securing a playoff berth in the East. On the plus side for the Hawks, few teams are better equipped to deal with an injury in the frontcourt as the Hawks. The duo of Cam Reddish and Kevin Huerter will likely see an increase in playing time, while Danilo Gallinari, who has struggled mightily to start the season, may finally see enough opportunities to re-emerge as a viable playmaker.
Bucks guard Jrue Holiday was a late scratch from his team’s showdown with the Denver Nuggets on Monday night due to a positive COVID test. In his first season with Milwaukee, Holiday has shined in the spotlight as a star-level playmaker alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo. On the season, Holiday is putting up over 16 points-a-game while proving to be a perfect complement to Antetokounmpo on the defensive end. It’s unclear when he’ll be cleared to return, but Holiday’s health is the most pressing concern given his positive test result.
Nuggets guard Jamal Murray’s season-long struggles continued as his team fell to the Bucks on Monday. Murray hit a mere 4-of-17 from the field, a level of inconsistency that has become a consistent issue for the star point guard this season. Nagging injuries have played a significant role in Murray’s struggles, but he has been unable to find a rhythm as a scorer more than anything. Back-up Monte Morris has been solid, though Denver seems reluctant to give him a starter’s workload due to Murray’s presence. Denver remains an obvious playoff team, but for the Nuggets to be a championship threat, Murray has to figure things out and return to the level of play he demonstrated during last year’s incredible postseason run.
Brooklyn fell to the lowly Detroit Pistons by double digits on Tuesday night, continuing a rough stretch of play for the Nets. The team’s defense seems to have regressed even further, and last night, the Pistons were able to generate open looks through both ball movement and isolation. James Harden continues to be an offensive wizard, racking up 24 points on 14 shots to go with a dozen dimes and six boards, but his pairing in the backcourt alongside Kyrie Irving has been a defensive disaster. Once Kevin Durant returns from being out due to health and safety protocols, the team’s offense will be better equipped at outscoring opponents. However, the team has zero pieces in place to field a worthwhile defense, and that will doom Brooklyn’s hopes of competing for a championship.