NEW YORK — The first indication that something wasn't right came just about two hours before tipoff Monday night.
It was then that New York Knicks assistant coach Joshua Longstaff could be seen scanning the Madison Square Garden court. Longstaff had just wrapped up a session with point guard Ron Baker and was waiting for his next partner, Derrick Rose, to come onto the floor.
"Has anyone seen Derrick?" he asked out loud while standing next to a group of assistant coaches.
Rose never showed up—for his pregame routine or the Knicks' contest against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Rose's absence was a surprise, to fans and the Knicks. Head coach Jeff Hornacek made no mention of Rose during his pregame news conference, and the team didn't announce he'd be missing the game until 7:33 p.m.—three minutes after tipoff.
The given reason: "not with the team."
New York declined to comment further during the game, even as reports began to circulate that the team had no idea why Rose had failed to show up, per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Since the contest ended—a 110-96 shellacking, the Knicks' eighth loss in nine games—ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne has reported Rose informed the team of "a family situation."
But the Knicks themselves had little information to share at the immediate conclusion of Monday's outing, and Hornacek failed to provide much context to the latest strange turn in Rose's career.
"Right now we don't have enough information to really give you anything, so that's just going to have to wait until we hear something from Derrick himself," Hornacek said, later adding, "When Derrick comes back, if he's got any comments, we'll comment on that."
Hornacek wouldn't say whether he had spoken to Rose after the game. Both Brandon Jennings, who started in place of Rose, and Courtney Lee said they had not. The only Knicks player who had, Joakim Noah, didn't want to go into detail.
"I mean, I don't really want to talk too much about it because I don't know what the situation is," Noah said. "I'm just happy that everything is OK with him."
The question about Rose's well-being came after Hornacek, in response to a question about whether Rose was safe, said: "I can't comment on that, guys; it's as simple as that. We don't have enough information to comment on anything."
Rose, according to Lee, had attended the Knicks' shootaround Monday afternoon. Lee added there was no indication something might be off.
"I haven't heard anything," Lee said. "In this case, all we can do is hope he's alright. There's probably something that's very serious, and as a teammate and his friend, I just hope everything is all right with him."
Added Jennings: "[I'm] definitely concerned. Definitely a situation I've never been in. I just hope everything is all right."
Jennings said he learned he'd be starting instead of Rose about 40 minutes before tipoff.
Rose, 28, was acquired by the Knicks in a June trade with the Chicago Bulls. New York sent center Robin Lopez and guards Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant to Chicago in exchange for Rose, guard Justin Holiday and a 2017 second-round pick.
Rose, whose first season with the Knicks has been up and down, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He's averaging 17.3 points, 4.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game and shooting 44.3 percent from the field. New York has also been better with him on the floor this year, per NBA.com.
But his aggressive, shoot-first style has occasionally gotten in the way of the Knicks' success (New York is 1-12 when Rose attempts 17 or more shots, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein) and apparently drawn the ire of Hornacek—Rose hadn't played a single fourth-quarter minute in New York's last two outings.
Wojnarowski reported Monday that Rose "was unhappy with [his] fourth-quarter benching on Friday in Milwaukee," but Hornacek said there was no indication in the lead-up to the contest with the Pelicans that Rose had an issue with the decision.
Does that mean Hornacek expects Rose to rejoin the team soon?
"Again, do we expect him back? Sure," he said. "Just a matter of time."
However, Wojnarowski added Tuesday morning that the absence could jeopardize Rose's future with the team, both immediate and long-term.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.