Miles McBride supplants Derrick Rose in Knicks 9-man rotation

Donovan Mitchell, Miles McBride, Quentin Grimes, New York Knicks

New York Knicks‘ elder statesman Derrick Rose is officially back “into the unknown.”

The 34-year-old Rose confirmed on Tuesday that second-year guard Miles McBride had supplanted him in the constantly evolving New York Knicks rotation.

Rose was a healthy scratch on Sunday as New York coach Tom Thibodeau decided to return to a nine-man rotation. Thibodeau later explained that Rose rested on the second leg of a back-to-back schedule.

But the former MVP revealed that his long-time coach explained his ‘situational’ status before they faced the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“[Thibodeau] said he wanted to give a Deuce a look. That’s all he told me. So I understood.”

Derrick Rose via Stefan Bondy of NY Daily News

The shortened rotation and McBride’s insertion clicked for the Knicks as they held the Cavaliers’ All-Star backcourt — Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell — to 40 points on 13 of 41 shooting from the floor.

McBride had a hand in that despite going scoreless in 16 minutes off the bench.

Garland and Mitchell were a combined 0 of 3 from the field when McBride was their primary defender. The Cavaliers were 0 of 6 and outscored by eight when McBride was on the floor. McBride’s 66.7 defensive rating ended up as the best among all players who played from both teams on Sunday.

The West Virginia product was equally impressive 24 hours later when he suited up for the Westchester Knicks in a G League assignment.

McBride flawlessly quarterbacked the Knicks’ G League affiliate with 12 assists against zero turnovers to chalk up their fifth win in 12 games. He had 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the floor, including 4 of 6 from downtown.

McBride’s shot hasn’t translated yet at the NBA level, but his defense won him a spot on Thibodeau’s shortened rotation.

Another casualty of Thibodeau’s lineup changes is Cam Reddish, who was awful defensively against the Dallas Mavericks last Saturday. Reddish had a plus-minus -16, and his 155.0 defensive rating was the worst among all players who saw action from both teams.

The McBride and Immanuel Quickley backcourt off the bench is Thibodeau’s solution to tighten up their perimeter defense that has allowed close to 14 out of 40 three-point attempts per game. Last Sunday, the Cavaliers were held to 8 of 35 3s.

“Part of that is probably less people in the rotation gives you a better rhythm. So that’s our reason why we went we went to nine [man rotation]. …The tough thing is you got to make a decision. Okay, who are the nine?

And there are guys that are deserving to be in there. And you’re trying to stretch it a little bit to see until there’s more clarity to it. And then once there is and you have the information, now you got to make the decision. So that’s what we did. And while we can do what, we think what is best for the team, so I want to prioritize that and that doesn’t mean it’s permanent. It just means that’s where we are right now. Whatever gives us the best chance to win and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Tom Thibodeau postgame via

Knicks starting point guard Jalen Brunson, whose arrival largely reduced Rose’s role in the team, liked Thibodeau’s decision to go nine-man deep. But he’s also aware of the team’s roster crunch.

“We have a lot of guys that can play quality minutes and do a lot of damage on the court. So it’s definitely a task for [Thibodeau]. But I just think if we do go to that nine-man rotation, it’s just [about] rhythm. Guys are a little bit more in rhythm and all that stuff, but coach has a tough task, especially with the guys that we have.”

Jalen Brunson postgame via

Rose’s demotion indicates that he could be on the move before the February trade deadline. The Mavericks are reportedly interested in Rose.

Reddish is a different story.

After an underwhelming preseason performance, the former lottery pick acquired from Atlanta became an afterthought. But Reddish flourished as a regular part of the rotation, even climbing to the starting unit when Quentin Grimes was still bothered by a sore left knee.

But Reddish became expendable once Grimes got his legs back and emerged as the Knicks’ best perimeter defender.

The Knicks paid a protected first-round pick to acquire Reddish. With Reddish entering restricted free agency, the Knicks have more time to decide whether he would be part of their future. If they ever move on from him, they would be looking to acquire another first-round pick to kick the can further down the road.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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