The Cleveland Cavaliers are in serious talks to bring Derrick Rose to Northeast Ohio on a one-year contract, according to a report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski.
Rose, who remains one of the top unrestricted free agents on the market, would join LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, presumably as the team’s backup point guard.
Irving is the team’s starting point guard, and the Cavs signed Jose Calderon earlier this month as a ball-handler off the bench, but Rose would likely slot in ahead of Calderon on the depth chart.
Rose’s fit with the Cavs would be a puzzling one, though. In recent years, Cleveland’s backup point guards, who often play alongside James, have tended to be shooters comfortable playing off the ball. When James plays with bench units, the offense runs through him, and those bench units often feature as many shooters as possible to space the floor for James.
Rose, however, is the opposite of a spot-up shooter. He shot 21.7 percent from 3-point land last season, and is a sub-30 percent shooter from beyond the arc for his career.
But perhaps Rose could have a very specific role that doesn’t involve sharing the floor with James. Maybe coach Ty Lue and the Cavs would plan to use him primarily when James and Irving rest. Rose can still get to the rim off the dribble, and if he could run Cleveland’s bench units, that would take some of the load off James during the regular season.
In the playoffs, if the Cavs need a shooter at the backup point guard spot when LeBron reverts to playing 40-plus minutes per game, that’s where Calderon would come in. He’s a career 40 percent 3-point shooter. He’s not necessarily a player you can rely on in high-level, high-stakes games, but he would fit alongside James for short stretches better than Rose would.
The overarching question, though, is how much Rose has left in the tank. Selected No. 1 overall by the Chicago Bulls in 2008, he was fantastic in Chicago for four seasons, winning the league’s MVP award in 2011 and leading the Bulls to first-place finishes in the East in 2011 and 2012. But Rose tore his ACL in the opening game of the 2012 playoffs, and he has struggled with injuries since. With the explosion that made him so special all but gone, he’s become an extremely inefficient offensive player.
Rose spent last season with the Knicks after an offseason trade from the Bulls. He played 64 games and averaged 18 points per contest, his highest scoring average since the 2012 injury. He also averaged 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds. It was his most effective offensive season of the past five years. Still, his advanced metrics weren’t great, and there’s a reason there hasn’t been much of a market for him.
Rose would be taking a massive pay cut to join the defending Eastern Conference champions and make a run at the Finals. With the Cavs over the salary cap, the maximum they can offer Rose is the remaining $2.5 million of their taxpayer mid-level exception, and Cleveland is reportedly offering him less than that — the $2.1 million veteran minimum, per ESPN.
Meanwhile, Rose also met with the Lakers on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Chris Haynes. Haynes tweeted that Rose “just wants to play ball.” USA Today’s Sam Amick reported that Rose will make a decision this weekend, with the Bulls also potentially in play.
More from Yahoo Sports: