Knicks’ Derrick Rose draws interest from Bucks but Tom Thibodeau hopes to keep him around

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If Tom Thibodeau has his way, he would like to keep New York Knicks veteran point guard Derrick Rose, who’s been with him in his three coaching stops.

Thibodeau mused about Rose’s new ‘mentoring’ role with a young Knicks team with playoff aspirations before they pulled off a 102-98 come-from-behind win Tuesday on the road.

“He’s been great,” Thibodeau said. In whatever role you ask Derrick to play, he embraces it. He’s always been a team-first guy. So I know he’s always ready. He contributes in a lot of different ways to our club.”

“As far as the trade stuff, a million trades get talked about and very rarely does anything get done. So I always want him to be around.”

But as Thursday’s trade deadline nears, Rose draws interest from championship contender Milwaukee Bucks, according to NBA insider Marc Stein.

Currently, the Bucks have two-time All-Star Jrue Holiday and journeyman Jevon Carter splitting point guard duties. The 34-year-old Rose, the youngest NBA MVP in 2011, could come in and help solidify the Bucks’ backcourt for the stretch run.

Two years ago, Rose returned to New York midseason and sparked the Knicks’ first playoff appearance in eight years. His injury last season was one of the major factors why the Knicks slipped to 11th in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks’ depth was viewed as the club’s strength entering this season, banking on Rose’s comeback from an ankle injury that sidelined him last season. The 15-year veteran slimmed down to his rookie weight, upon the prodding of Thibodeau, to keep up with the faster pace of the ever-evolving NBA.

But he started the season in a limited role. By November, he was scratched from the rotation and was relegated to a mentorship role for the Knicks’ young players.

“I think for any veteran, it’s not easy to accept,” Thibodeau said. “And I think you always have to sacrifice and put the team first. And he’s always done that, whether he’s been an MVP or he’s been a guy that has come off the bench.

“He’s dealt with just about everything he could deal with in this league, and I think he has a great perspective on the league and so he’ll contribute in a positive way, in any way that he can and he’s done that.”

Now, the Knicks are looking to bolster their inconsistent bench, perhaps at the expense of Rose. They have shown interest in Bucks starter Grayson Allen, a 3-and-D player who fits Thibodeau’s style. But the Bucks have been reluctant to swap him for the Knicks’ other displaced player, Cam Reddish.

With the price tags of Phoenix’s Jae Crowder and Houston’s Eric Gordon remaining high, the Bucks could be pivoting to Rose.

Under team president Leon Rose, the Knicks are not known for swinging for the fences at the trade deadline, especially with the team on track to improve from their 11th-place finish last season. They have a young core with only Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson, the team’s 1-2 punch, above 25 years old.

“I love our team and Leon’s job is to listen to people, to talk, to see what’s going on in the league,” Thibodeau said. “And being in his staff, I’m always thinking about the possibilities and can we improve the team? That’s his job. He’s responsible for that.”

“But we love our team, and if something were to happen, it would have to be something he felt very strongly about that would improve the club. So, we have a really good roster that we like. We have a lot of good young players that we know will get better as time goes on.”

Rose, the oldest and the only player above 30 years old on the Knicks roster, isn’t part of the present and, more so, the future. He’s one of their trade chips with essentially an expiring contract, as his next year’s salary is a team option.

Will Thibodeau get to keep his trusted veteran, or will Rose find a new home and play meaningful minutes as his career winds down?

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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