Derrick Rose returns to Knicks, is fined, says he went home for family issue
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Derrick Rose was back with the Knicks after going AWOL Monday night. He said he had to tend to a family matter, and he apologized to the team before Tuesday’s practice.
Rose said he flew to Chicago after Monday’s shootaround to be with his mother, and returned Tuesday morning. He knew the Knicks were trying to contact him Monday night, but said he didn’t want to pick up the phone.
The Knicks announced that they fined Rose an undisclosed amount, but they didn’t suspend him.
“It was a family issue,” Rose said Tuesday afternoon. “It had nothing to do with the team or basketball. That’s the first time I ever felt like that emotionally, and I had to be with my family. I just had to get to my family.
“I didn’t want to take any calls at the time. I needed that space to myself and I needed to be around my mom.”
Rose said he couldn’t elaborate further, but that the matter was “resolved.”
“I really can’t get into details,” he said. “It’s really personal. Now I just want to focus. There’s too much on my plate right now. I’m just trying to focus on the season like I’ve been doing since I’ve been here. But I can’t go back in the past and talk about that. Everything’s fine.”
Coach Jeff Hornacek said that if Rose is in the right mental state, he will start Wednesday night against the 76ers in Philadelphia. Rose, acquired from Chicago last summer, is in the final year of his contract, earning $21.3 million this season.
The Knicks didn’t announce until just before tipoff Monday night that Brandon Jennings was starting for Rose against the Pelicans. Rose said he contacted general manager Steve Mills during the game and spoke to additional members of the Knicks afterward.
Hornacek said he didn’t know that Mills had spoken to Rose during the game until after his postgame news conference. When asked when the Knicks found out it was a family issue, Hornacek said, “There was speculation I think that we maybe had heard from somebody who might know him that that was it.”
Rose said if he could do it all over again, he would have let the Knicks know what happened.
“Now, yeah,” Rose said. “But when you’re in the moment, the first thing I thought of was just getting out there. I didn’t really think about anything else.
“Things happen. Of course that’s not the person I am. I explained to my teammates I didn’t want any distractions to the team, especially what we have going on right now, and I apologized to them earlier, just letting them know it will never happen again. This wasn’t me. This never happened to me before, and I explained that to the team and the front office.”
Rose said he met with team president Phil Jackson and Mills privately and then addressed the team. Neither Jackson nor Mills was made available to the media.
Hornacek said he was satisfied with what he heard, but wished Rose would have handled the situation differently. “When I talked to him this morning, he said, ‘Coach, it has nothing to do with basketball, it’s all about what I had to do with my family,’ ” Hornacek said.
“If he would’ve just called us and let us know, fine. But we understand how you could get wrapped up in the concern for your family, and when you have a concern for your family, I don’t know if my concern would be totally, if I was zeroed in, ‘I got to get on a plane. I got to go back,’ that it would be different. But lesson learned for all of our players to understand it, and I think our players understand what he was going through and welcomed him back today.”
Rose didn’t play in the fourth quarter of Friday’s comeback win over Milwaukee, when Hornacek went with undrafted rookie Ron Baker. Rose also sat out the fourth quarter of Saturday’s blowout loss at Indiana.
But Rose denied he was angry or that this unexcused absence was basketball-related, and he said he wants to remain with the Knicks, who have lost eight of their last nine games and 11 of 14.
“That’s crazy,” said Rose, who has started all 33 games he has played this season, averaging 17.3 points and 4.5 assists. “That’s crazy. I never had a problem with a coach in my life, no matter what team I’ve been on. I put that on myself because I let that space and opportunity start something, especially when people didn’t know what was going on or people are trying to find out or figure out what’s wrong with the team.
“So I put that on myself with not telling the Knicks. It was just bad timing, but I’m not perfect, far from it. The front office and my teammates, they knew where I was coming from when I told them what happened.
“Basketball didn’t have anything to do with it. Losing games or, whatever ya’ll thought, it didn’t have anything to do with basketball at all.”
The Knicks supported Rose during training camp and preseason when he missed more than two weeks because of a civil trial for sexual assault. Rose, who was cleared, said he doesn’t believe he hurt his relationship with the organization or his teammates.
“When I talked to them, everything was cool,” Rose said. “They understood. That’s something you would probably have to ask them, how their feelings are about me leaving. But when I talked to them, everything was fine.”