Derrick Rose was "kinda late" in learning Kemba Walker was heading to New York to join the Knicks after his buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Rose actually didn't have a cell phone for a couple months after breaking it, letting his agent and brother do most of the talking before he re-signed with the Knicks.
But the veteran Rose absolutely loves the fact that Walker is back in New York and they're on the same team. And before anyone starts speculating on a point guard battle, Rose is already pointing the finger at his new teammate as the team's starter.
"He’s starting," Rose said to reporters on Monday. "He’s starting and I’m doing whatever it takes to change the game. I’m not worried about minutes, playing time or anything like that. I know Thibs is going to handle that.”
It's true that Rose was very solid off the bench for the Knicks last season, though many wanted him out there over Elfrid Payton and the other guards once the playoffs started.
But Walker isn't going to let Rose just give him that title -- at least not in a media room. He has tremendous respect for Rose and admitted that he was a big factor in signing with New York.
"I mean, I wouldn’t know about that. I don’t know yet, but that’s pretty cool," Walker said. "For me, I’ve always been a huge D Rose fan. Regardless, starting, not starting, whatever, it doesn’t even matter. I just want to win. To have a guy like him, a former MVP, a guy who’s been through it all. To be on the same team as him is really special for me.
“D Rose is one of the biggest reasons I came here. I wanted to be around him, wanted to get a chance to see how he prepares himself every day. Just really get a chance to pick his brain as best as I can while I’m here.”
Rose flashed back to when both he and Walker played in Madison Square Garden during high school, and how Walker's team ended up victorious that day.
"He’s always been a grimy, feisty guard," Rose explained. "A New York guard. Always being competitive and he’s a dog. So having him on the team, who wouldn’t want Kemba Walker on their team? You’d be a fool not to.”
They've barely been teammates, but mutual respect from years of watching each other ball out is always a good start for new guys in the locker room.
Make no mistake: Walker signed here to be the starter for the Knicks, who desperately needed a tone-setter who could score at the position. Walker does just that with the ability to score anywhere on the floor, but also has a knack for offensive creation because defenses need to keep an eye on him at all times.
Rose was a spark plug off the bench, jumping in and taking over if needed when the Knicks were down or wanted to put a dagger in their opponent. That's likely the role Tom Thibodeau will go with yet again, unless training camp practices lead to something else.
But either way, both of these guards only have winning on their minds, no matter how it comes for the blue and orange. And that's all you can ask for when two All-Stars playing the same position are on the roster.