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 out onto the floor.
"Has anyone seen Derrick?" he asked out loud while standing next to a group of team assistant coaches.
Rose never did show up—for his pre-game routine or the Knicks' contest against the New Orleans Pelicans. Rose's absence came as a surprise, to fans and the Knicks. Hornacek made no mention of Rose during his pre-game press conference and the team didn't announce he'd be missing the game until 7:33 p.m., officially three minutes after the tip.
The given reason: "not with team."
Brandon Jennings is starting tonight versus @PelicansNBA - Derrick Rose is not with the team.1/10/2017, 12:33:17 AM
New York declined to comment further during the game, even as reports began to circulate stating the team had no idea why Rose had failed to show up. Since the contest ended—a 110-96 shellacking, the Knicks' eighth loss in nine games—ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburn has reported that Rose eventually informed the team of "a family situation."
But the Knicks themselves had very little information to share at the immediate conclusion of Monday's outing. Head coach Jeff Hornacek failed to provide much context afterward 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 on whether Rose was safe, responded: "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 said there was no indication that 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."
"Definitely concerned," Jennings added. "Definitely a situation I've never been in. I just hope everything is all right."
Jennings said he found out he'd be starting instead of Rose about 40 minutes before tipoff.
Rose, 28, was acquired by the Knicks in June in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. New York sent center Robin Lopez, guard Jose Calderon and guard Jerian Grant to Chicago in exchange for Justin Holiday, Rose 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, 2.8 rebounds and shooting 44.3 percent from the field. The Knicks have 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 this season when Rose attempts 17 or more shots, according to ESPN'S Marc Stein), and drawn the ire of Hornacek. Rose hadn't played a single fourth-quarter minute in the Knicks' last two outings.
Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical reported on Monday that Rose "was unhappy with his fourth quarter benching," but Hornacek said that there was no indication in the lead-up to the contest with the Pelicans that Rose had an issue with Hornacek's decision.
Does that mean Hornacek expects Rose to re-join the team soon?
"Again, do we expect him back? Sure," he said. "Just a matter of time."
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!