Derrick Rose wore jersey No. 1 with the Chicago Bulls. This season, his first with the New York Knicks, Rose will wear No. 25, a number he says signifies a “new step” in his career.
The Knicks have only won a total of 49 games over the last two seasons, so many may disagree with Rose’s assessment of the club.
But Rose believes — and the Knicks hope — that he can duplicate his performance over the last two months of the 2015-16 season, when he averaged 16.4 points and 4.6 assists while shooting 45 percent from the floor (37.5 percent from beyond the arc).
“I just love the group,” Rose said of the Knicks’ roster. “I think everybody is on the same page. I love the culture that Phil [Jackson] is creating. Just the organization and franchise, I love everybody that’s working on it, and they seem like they’re very excited for everything. That just rubs off on people.”
Ricky Rubio heard his name floated in the constant trade rumor mill, never more than after the Wolves selected Providence’s Kris Dunn, another point guard, with the fifth overall pick in the June draft.
Rubio remained quiet throughout the summer, putting all of his focus into grieving the loss of his mother and then joining his national team to prepare for the Olympics. Now that the Rio Games have concluded and Rubio has earned a bronze medal with Spain, he said he is looking forward to returning to Minnesota to work with Dunn and reiterated his desire to remain with the Timberwolves and help turn them into a winner.
“Really it’s a challenge. When a young guy like him who has a lot of potential comes, I think we can really play together,” Rubio told The Associated Press. “But if we don’t [share the floor often], I can really help him [Dunn].”
Rubio said he was pleased by Thibodeau’s hiring and believes the new coaching staff will make a big difference on a young, impressionable roster.
“I think we’ve got all the pieces together to make something happen,” he said. “I’m really excited about the new coach and the new staff. They have a lot of years in their backpack and really can teach us how to reach the next level. I think we have the tools. We just have to put all them together.”
Thibodeau has said he can see Dunn and Rubio playing together in certain lineups, and indications within the organization are that there are no current efforts to trade the veteran starter. One of the team’s biggest weaknesses last season was the lack of a solid backup to Rubio at point guard, a setup that caused the Wolves to try to move Zach LaVine from his more natural shooting guard spot.
With Dunn in the mix, the Wolves have more depth now. And Rubio’s presence assures the team doesn’t have to force a rookie into a starting spot at one of the game’s most important positions.
The 25-year-old Rubio is entering his sixth season and has yet to see the playoffs. He said that concerns him far more than his team investing a high lottery pick on a player at his position. Rubio believes he can serve as a mentor to Dunn and hopes the two can push each other to new heights.
“It’s something that I’ve said since day one.” said Rubio, who averaged 10.1 points and 8.7 assists per game last season. “I don’t want to be in the newspaper. I just want to win. That’s my goal. If I have to sacrifice something — I will to make this team a winning team.”