It’s not often you find a former NBA MVP playing on a a veteran’s minimum contract but that’s the situation Derrick Rose now finds himself in with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite signing on in Cleveland to be Kyrie Irving’s back up, Rose now also finds himself in the starting lineup and in a good frame of mind.
“I was in a dark place years ago,” says Rose. “I was playing revenge basketball and that wasn’t my way of playing basketball. I enjoy competing but when I came back it was all about trying to get back to the top and proving everybody wrong. I know who I am as a man, I know who I am as a player, a person, there’s no point to doing that anymore. I’m just being secure with who I am and knowing who I am.”
Rose has shown off for his new teammates so far in training camp for the Cavaliers and Kevin Love says his new point guard is now playing without any added pressure.
“More than anything he’s just playing free,” says Love. “He looks good but he’s not carrying any weight in anyway whether its physically or on his shoulders, any burden in that respect so I think for him that’s huge and he’s just coming out here and having a lot of fun playing basketball.”
Coach Ty Lue has been impressed with Rose in camp too and knows he could be a steal when the season is all said and done.
“It says a lot about him, about his character,” says Lue. “A guy who’s been MVP, who’s started his whole career and to come here for the minimum, thinking that Kyrie was going to be here and being a backup. It just shows he wants to win, that’s who he is as a person, you see it every day.”
Another thing seen everyday at Cavs practice is Rose firing up shots from behind the 3 point line where the former MVP is hitting just under 30 percent of his shots in his career including only knocking down 13 triples last season in New York. Rose however knows a 3 point shot is in his arsenal.
“I know my strength and parts of my game and me not shooting them last year was me being stubborn and me knowing who I am and knowing my game,” says Rose. “I’m not going to put any pressure on myself to shoot them more, when I’m open, I’m going to shoot them.”
Lue echoed Rose’s ability to shoot from deep but knows there’s plenty more to his new point guard’s game.
“If he’s open, he has to shoot those shots, he’s going to get a lot of open shots in this offense,” says Lue. “But his biggest strength is attacking the basket, getting to the paint, one of the best, I’ve seen him do it. He has a freedom to play, I’m not going to hold him back, play his game. We want him to be comfortable.”
Another aspect to Rose’s game that has impressed coaches and teammates is his passing ability while running the point. Rose however says this is nothing new to his game, it just hasn’t been seen in a while.
“Before I made it to the league I think I was a facilitator, the NBA made me into a scorer,” says Rose. “I think you’ll be able to see my passing abilities once I’m here. My job is to facilitate, be aggressive at the same time but be a threat always when I get the ball.”