The injury to Derrick Rose has opened the door of opportunity for New York Knicks backup point guard Brandon Jennings as we approach the trade deadline.
The New York Knicks‘ push for a possible playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season took another hit last night. The Knickerbockers came up short to LeBron James and the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers,111-104, in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden crowd.
Trailing by as many as 27 points most of the game and hearing some boos from the home crowd led to a unique finger wag response from Carmelo Anthony.
A spark in the form of Brandon Jennings ignited the Knicks to a ferocious comeback, trimming the lead to nine points.
Jennings led the team with 23 points while dishing out 10 assists catching fire late in the third quarter. He erupted for 17 points in three minutes and 20 seconds, sending the crowd into a frenzy while Anthony was once again on the bench.
The Knicks’ hopes for a rally would be put to rest after a dagger three-point basket from the constantly trade rumored Kevin Love, putting an exclamation point on his brilliant 23-point, 16-rebound night.
Jennings spoke with reporters after the game addressing the crowd’s negative reaction to the team’s early game struggles.
"“It seems like they’ve been booing a lot since Jan. 1 because we’ve been playing so poorly, It’s all of us. It’s not just one person. We just need to play hard and play with effort. Who cares what the score is? Just play hard. That’s the main thing. Dive on the floor.”"
Interestingly enough, Jennings has been living up to those words lately as over the last five games he’s averaging 16 points per game while dishing out seven assists. He hasn’t played less than 38 minutes in a game since taking over as the team’s starting point guard after Derrick Rose suffered an ankle injury on January 27 against the Charlotte Hornets.
Jennings and Kristaps Porzingis have served as the only starters to be catalysts during the team’s recent fourth quarter comeback runs the past two games with reserves.
As the Knicks continue to shop the services of Anthony, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if Jennings begins to draw interest as well. The seventh year point guard is only on a one-year deal and could be what a title contending team needs, either as a starter or backup.
The trade value of Jennings could even affect the future of Rose, who recently shared his thoughts on possibly being moved if Anthony is dealt before the February 23 deadline. Here is what he said during an interview with ESPN:
"“I’m on a one-year deal so I can’t talk that much about it. The rebuild could be me going, too. I don’t know. My job is to focus whenever I’m on the court, just try to win games, try to be positive, try to get better. Like I said from the beginning, I’m chasing something. I’m trying to get back to myself and I’m trying to play consistent games.”"
Rose’s comments could open the door for Jennings to start full time in New York, but once again that remains a question mark until the Knicks decide to trade Anthony.
Jennings’ amazing pace has put him in a possibly very profitable situation heading to summer 2017, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a few more big games from him as the season progresses.