The New York Knicks are one step closer to becoming serious title contenders after acquiring Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls in a trade involving multiple players earlier this week.
Rose will join nine-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony and last year's rookie sensation, Kristaps Porzingis in forming a big three for the decorated franchise that hasn't seen the playoffs in three years.
While the acquisition is exciting for New Yorkers, Rose's decline since he suffered a horrific run of injuries that plagued him for the last five years cannot be ignored. Last year Rose averaged 16.4 points, 4.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds, a significant drop compared to his MVP campaign in 2010-11 in which the point guard averaged 25 points, 7.7 assist and 4.1 rebounds. Knicks fans can only hope Rose rekindles the magic that made him the NBA's youngest ever MVP.
While the NBA's new big three has Knick fans salivating over the possibilities for next season, team president Phil Jackson understands it will take much more help to dethrone King James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cue, Kevin Durant.
Jackson advised Rose that he was going to heavily pursue Durant when free agency begins on July 2nd. Surprise, surprise!
There isn't a team in the NBA who wouldn't want a shot at landing the former MVP and four-time scoring champion. Durant is a stone-cold killer and a big-time superstar who would bring life back to Madison Square Garden.
While Durant is the ultimate prize, the Knicks must also address the gaping hole at centre left by Robin Lopez - who was shipped off to Chicago as a part of the Rose trade. With this in mind, New York should be quite active during free agency in search for a veteran big man to crash the boards and protect the rim.
Cue, Dwight Howard.
Think what you will, Howard can still contribute in this league under the right system. Jackson's triangle offence is one of them and New York will surely be an enticing landing spot for the dwindling centre looking to revitalise his career.
With news the salary cap will rise to $94 million next year, the Knicks can not only absorb Rose's $21 million salary for the final year of his contract, they can also afford to offer max deals to both Durant and Howard - the former being much more deserving, ofcourse.
While the acquisition of Rose is definitely a step in the right direction for New York, the Knicks are still ways away from contending with Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
However, signing Durant and Howard would be a good start.