Even though Kristaps Porzingis won a game at the Garden on Friday, the Knicks have a chance of actually winning the Porzingis trade if they win their trade with the Pistons and pull off a solid selection with the Mavericks’ first-round pick in July.
But that first-round pick — and the 2023 Dallas selection — can’t help them now.
The Knicks didn’t make any noteworthy moves at the trade deadline other than clearing two roster spots by shipping out brooding Austin Rivers and buried Ignas Brazdeikis. The players they picked up — French center Vincent Poirier and wing Terrance Ferguson — were waived soon after.
In fact, the Knicks and Timberwolves were the only teams that didn’t add a roster piece around the deadline — until the Knicks signed shot-blocking third-string center Norvel Pelle late Friday.
Whether they regret not making a harder charge at backcourt men Victor Oladipo, Norman Powell, Lonzo Ball or small forward Evan Fournier may not be known until the results on point guard Derrick Rose are in.
The Knicks made their big trade on Super Bowl Sunday, sending the chief player asset from the Porzingis trade, point guard Dennis Smith Jr., to Detroit for the 32-year-old Rose.
Smith has posted one triple-double with the Pistons, but he has developed back soreness and was scheduled to miss a ninth game in 12 contests Saturday with back soreness. Smith also had a disk issue while with the Knicks.
Smith was a sunk cost, but the Knicks need Rose to make something out of the disaster.
As the Knicks faced the Pistons on Saturday in Detroit, Rose also was trending downward since he returned from a severe bout of COVID-19.
Rose’s second Knicks stint hit a low point Friday when they lost 99-84 to Porzingis’ Mavericks at the Garden.
Rose, who had missed the previous two games with an ankle sprain, shot just 1-for-10 for two points, and missed both of his 3-point attempts. Rose had four assists without a turnover, but some of his passes have seemed a touch off the mark compared to the zip he displayed when he made his second Knicks debut on February 9 in Miami.
The former MVP looked like a terrific pickup at first, but he doesn’t quite the look the same.
Whether it’s still getting in shape following a long COVID-19 layoff or being bothered by a sprained ankle, is unclear. But it is alarming.
“He’s got some rust and has to work his way through it,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Rose is about as candid as any Knick in recent years, winning the Media Good Guy Award in 2016-17. Rose was genuinely touched when he was handed the award in Cleveland as he began a short stint with the Cavaliers.
When he returned to the Knicks and then came back after missing 10 games with COVID-19, Rose admitted the virus knocked him for a loop, with severe symptoms.
“It’s real,’’ Rose said. “The COVID thing, I know a lot of people overlook it but it’s very serious. I had the flu. It was nothing like the flu. It was that times 10.”
Recently, I spoke to a COVID-19 pulmonary specialist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, who said top athletes can sometimes have trouble regaining their former status, stamina-wise.
“I have had people who had previously been marathon runners and highly physically functioning patients like an athlete who still — 12 months later — have symptoms,” Dr. Marc Sala said. “Breathlessness, inability to get back to running.”
I asked Rose, late Friday night after the Dallas loss, if COVID-19 still is playing havoc with him. Through Friday, he had shot 34 percent since his return from COVID-19 — a stretch interrupted for one game by the ankle injury.
“I’m feeling good,’’ Rose said. “I haven’t had any lingering symptoms or anything like that. My smell is better and my taste is good. I haven’t had any fatigue. I’m good.”
The Knicks came into Saturday having averaged 94 points in the previous four games. They had a three-game losing streak, which had pushed them below .500 at 24-25, and left them tied for seventh with Boston. They hadn’t lost four straight this season.
Is it too soon to press the panic button?
“We gotta have amnesia, especially when we play [Detroit],’’ Rose said. “We just gotta find way to get easy shots, easy looks.
“Every team is fighting for something right now, and the team’s that’s not playing for something, they would [like] to be the team that knocks us out the playoffs,’’ Rose added. “That’s what the NBA is about. No boys allowed.”
Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, who have missed one game between them, look to be wearing down a touch.
Thibodeau wanted Rose. Now he needs Rose to throw back the clock or the Knicks’ pause at the trade deadline will look curious.