CLEVELAND (AP) — Derrick Rose’s goal is to win an NBA championship. He’s a little closer to one.
The free-agent guard signed a one-year contract Tuesday with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that has blocked his path to a title before and one that needs him now more than ever.
Rose is getting a one-year, $2.1 million deal — the veteran’s minimum, and all Cleveland could offer — from the Cavaliers, who now have a possible replacement for Kyrie Irving. Rose gives the Cavs a proven player to handle point-guard duties if they choose to trade Irving, who recently told the team he wants to be dealt despite making it to three straight NBA Finals.
And while Rose is taking a substantial pay cut (he made $21.3 million last season in New York), he’s focused on one thing.
“I have a single focus and purpose of wanting to play to win,” he said. “Being part of a roster and organization that shares that type of commitment and being able to play with the Cavaliers and compete for a championship is the only thing that matters for me. I am very happy to be in Cleveland and look forward to getting to work.”
The Cavaliers’ pursuit of Rose seemed somewhat puzzling before Irving’s demands became public. The All-Star guard, whose 3-pointer in the waning moments of Game 7 of the 2016 Finals gave Cleveland its first sports championship in 52 years, has reportedly grown tired of playing alongside LeBron James and wants to be the focal point for another team.
Rose knows what that’s like.
For seven years, he was the unquestioned star for the Chicago Bulls, who got to the Eastern Conference finals in 2011 but were beaten by James’ Miami Heat.
Now, Rose and James, both former league MVPs, are united.
James welcomed his new teammate Monday on Twitter , posting five rose emoji’s with the message: “Let’s Rock G!!”
Rose drew interest from several other teams but chose the Cavaliers, who despite their recent turmoil and the uncertainty surrounding Irving, are the class of their conference.
“We are very excited to be able to add a player of Derrick’s caliber and experience to the team,” said GM Koby Altman, who was promoted from an interim role on Monday. “Derrick could have gone to a number of other teams, but his specific mindset, goals and total focus and commitment to winning are what resulted in him signing with the Cavaliers. We are confident he will be a very good fit with our organization and we look forward to the many ways he will contribute to the team.”
A three-time All-Star and the 2011 MVP, Rose averaged 18 points and 4.4 assists last season while shooting 48 percent from the field with New York. Although he has been injury prone, Rose played in 64 games for the Knicks and in 181 over the past three seasons.
Rose has averaged 19.5 points and 6 assists in eight seasons as a pro.
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