CLEVELAND — Derrick Rose said he wanted to come back to the Knicks and would have listened if they had called him.
Former Knicks president Phil Jackson wanted to bring back Rose, but when he was fired, the team went in another direction. LeBron James helped recruit Rose to Cleveland, where he signed for the veterans’ minimum of one year and $2.1 million.
“We didn’t hear anything,” Rose said before recording 15 points and three assists in 31 minutes in the Cavaliers’ 114-95 loss to the Knicks on Sunday night. “With us not hearing anything, we knew that they were probably looking somewhere else, and they drafted a point guard. Both sides were on two different pages.”
Rose, who returned to the Cavs’ starting lineup after missing four games with an ankle injury, made it sound as if the firing of Jackson made the Knicks more enticing. Rose, one of the best pick-and-roll players in the league, wasn’t a fan of Jackson’s triangle offense.
“I would have loved coming back,” he said. “I loved playing there, even though we lost. The city itself, the fans, everything about it. They made changes, Phil being gone. Of course I would have loved to be a part of it, but that’s the past.
“At least I would have heard them out. They didn’t say anything. I understand it’s a business. They’re looking in another direction. As a man and as a player, I have to respect that . . . They’ll be able to see me shine here.”
Rose averaged 18.0 points and 4.4 assists in 64 games with the Knicks last season before having season-ending knee surgery. He caused a major distraction in January when he went AWOL on the day of a game. Rose flew home to Chicago and was back with the team the following day.
The former MVP has said he has “more freedom” playing with the Cavaliers, but he said he doesn’t blame Jackson for wanting the Knicks to run the triangle.
“He wasn’t doing it intentionally to harm me,” Rose said. “He was just doing what he thought was best for the team. As a player, I have to respect that. I think that’s what the coaching staff did last year was respect his perspective and his decisions to want them to play the triangle.”