It sounds far-fetched, almost comical.
Derrick Rose wants to win a championship.
In Detroit. With the Pistons.
After last season’s 41-41 mark and being swept out of the playoffs, the Pistons made an underrated addition with Rose on a two-year deal worth $15 million — clearly a bargain, after Rose turned 30 and had a resurgent season. With the Timberwolves last season, Rose posted 18 points and 4.3 assists and shot 37 percent from 3-point range.
His next step: championship contender?
“While I’m in the game, I want to win a championship — that’s what I really want to do,” Rose said last week on Sirius XM. “I got all the accolades I wanted and now it’s time for me to get the one that I really want. I’ve won on every level except for this level.”
It seems to be a stretch. The Pistons, even with a core of Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard, were outmatched against the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoff series and the franchise hasn’t won a game in the playoffs since 2008.
What makes this year different?
“With Detroit, we have a great chance with being in the East and we have two great bigs and a great team,” Rose said in the interview. “You never know.”
In many ways, Rose is correct about the uncertainties. There are more questions about how his season will look for Rose than even for Griffin or Jackson, who also have been beset by injuries and would have to be a huge piece of any championship contention.
Rose played in 51 games last season, after playing just 25 in 2017-18. He hasn’t played in more than 66 games since 2011, his third season in the league. Rose missed all of 2013 after suffering an ACL injury and played just 10 games the following year.
Logic dictates that the Pistons will be careful with Rose this season, likely monitoring his minutes and games played very closely. That could include some load management — and luck — with an optimistic target of having him play in 60-70 games and ready for a potential playoff run.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated Now’s Robin Lundberg, Rose addressed the different mindset in dealing with managing minutes and games played. As it’s gradually become more prevalent around the league, more teams are taking advantage and pre-determining games that their stars will miss to keep them fresh.
“If I can play, I’m going to play — that’s with any player. At the same time, you have to be smart and mindful of your body, the season and what you have to endure during that season,” Rose told Lundberg. “When I was going through it, people thought I was crazy for taking the year off after the ACL. Now, that’s the norm. With an ACL now, for sure you’re taking a year off.
“They wanted me to be back in six months; there’s no way I was going to be back in six months. If I would have come back early any of the times I got injured, there’s no way I would be back for Year 12.”
In his first season with the Pistons, Rose might need some adjustment time, learning coach Dwane Casey’s offensive scheme and fitting in with new players. His anticipated role will be as the lead guard and scorer in the reserve group, replacing Ish Smith, who signed with the Wizards.
Rose brings a different skill set and is more of a scorer than Smith, but with Kennard also likely to be with the second group, Rose will have scoring help. Casey has an affinity for using two point-guard lineups and that could mean some time teaming with Jackson in blended lineups.
It’s not likely that Rose will start alongside Jackson, but there could be coinciding minutes, depending on the situation.
Predicting the NBA Finals as one of those situations doesn’t seem plausible, but the beginning of a season brings all kinds of optimism.
Just getting through the regular season without a major injury is the first step.