CHICAGO — Derrick Rose made a promise to Miles McBride and those closest to him over Thanksgiving dinner a year ago.
“It’s my job to steer him in the right direction, which I told his mom and his family,” the veteran guard recalled. “It’s bigger than basketball.”
That didn’t change when the young guard replaced Rose in the Knicks’ rotation.
If anything, Rose is doing even more to help McBride as he begins to emerge as a key piece off the bench for coach Tom Thibodeau’s team. He frequently checks in with McBride, reminding him to take care of his body, particularly with his recent spike in minutes. They are competing for playing time, but they also both want to win, and Rose is doing his best to do his part.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better vet. I’m just very thankful he’s been able to take me under his wing,” McBride said. “Derrick is a great person, on and off the court. I think that’s the most important thing. One of the best things I’ve learned from him was not to get too high, not to get too low, because things change quickly in this league.”
They have changed quickly for both players. After a dismal loss to the Mavericks on Dec. 3, Thibodeau cut his rotation to nine and replaced Rose with the defensive-minded McBride, believing it could spark the second unit’s defense.
“It was adding more of a defensive component to our team, as it was with Quentin [Grimes] as well,” Thibodeau said of the former West Virginia star and second-round pick (36th overall) in the 2021 draft.
The Knicks haven’t lost since, and McBride has played a role in this run. He’s only averaging 4.8 points in 20.4 minutes in the streak, but his defense has been essential as the Knicks have vastly improved of late on that end of the floor — his defensive rating in those contests is an elite 87.6 per 100 possessions — and he has shot the ball well from deep, hitting 6 of 13 3-point attempts over the last four games.
“He listens. That’s half the battle right there,” Rose said. “I always say that — no ego, no nothing. Professional, comes in to do his job.”
That’s also a pretty good way to describe the 34-year-old Rose, a former MVP and three-time All-Star who has handled his demotion with class. Thibodeau raved about how much Rose has helped the Knicks’ young guards with his vast experience and basketball IQ. And Rose said he has learned something from the 22-year-old McBride, too. When the youngster wasn’t playing, it didn’t impact his work ethic or attitude.
“So I learn from everybody,” Rose said, adding: “I can’t hate on that young man.”
Young players like McBride are part of why Rose said he wants to stay with the Knicks and not get traded, despite his current spot on the bench. He’s enjoying the winning vibes. Of course, a lot can change as it wasn’t long ago that McBride was buried. That didn’t shake his confidence, though.
“Shades of last year when I played. I showed I can belong as well as my time in the G-League. It’s just waiting for an opportunity and taking advantage of it,” McBride said. “It’s something I knew I always could do. Coach has gone in different directions. I can’t control that. I can control my attitude and the positivity I bring to the team.”
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