Derrick Rose left the New York Knicks before Monday’s game against New Orleans and flew to Chicago, reportedly due to a family issue involving his mother.
There’s just one problem: He didn’t tell the Knicks (17-21) he was leaving.
Indeed, Rose left without permission and returned Tuesday morning. He is expected to play in Wednesday night’s game against Philadelphia (10-25).
Frank Isola does not believe Rose should play against the 76ers.
“They could have fined him, they could have suspended him – at the very least, if you can’t do that, you can just make him inactive and not play him in the game,” the New York Daily News Knicks writer said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think it’s the wrong message not to do something to him because regardless of his side of the story, you didn’t call. In what line of work is somebody not going to show up for work and not take what would amount to 30 seconds out of your day to call, text, email somebody. They had to go to your apartment because that’s how concerned they were, and obviously they were fearing the worst. Thankfully it wasn’t anything like that. But Derrick Rose, regardless of the fact that you felt you needed to go home, you also have an obligation to your employer that’s paying you about $20 million a year just to give them a heads up.”
Rose, 28, apparently asked the Knicks to get him back to New York – but not to Chicago.
“The Knicks are the kind of organization where, if there were a family emergency, there would have facilitated a way for him to get to Chicago,” Isola said. “So you’re reaching out to the Knicks to get back, but you’re not reaching out to the Knicks to get to Chicago.”
It’s a head-scratcher, one that has left many, including Tiki Barber, to question Rose’s commitment to the game. Does he still love basketball?
“That’s a good question,” Isola said. “You would know better than me because you were a professional athlete. But you hear a lot of times from coaches how much some of the players kind of lose the love of the game. Some of them, they still might like the perks of it, but they don’t have that passion. I think it’s a combination of things. I think maybe he’s feeling a lot of stress, a lot of pressure. It’s never just one thing. The fact that he got benched Friday and Saturday, the fact that his free agency is coming up, the fact that he’s playing for, right now, a losing team – this is the most time he’s ever spent out of his hometown. Yeah, he did go to Memphis for one year in college, but for the most part, he has spent his entire life in Chicago. Maybe all that is getting to him. I think that’s the reason why he went home. I think he was probably feeling a little down. That still doesn’t excuse why he doesn’t call the team.”
Isola, in fact, believes that Rose’s career is at “a crossroads.” According to colleague K.C. Johnson, who covers the Bulls for the Chicago Tribune and knows Rose and Rose’s friends quite well, Rose is not in a good place emotionally.
“That’s why he decided to go (to Chicago),” Isola said. “I think the Knicks and Derrick Rose had to come up with a story. Let’s face it. When you say something like that, unfortunately we still live in a society where people look at that as a major sign of weakness. But that’s really not the case. I think also Derrick Rose’s people and his agents are probably looking to protect him a little bit here because he’s going to be a free agent on July 1. I still think he could easily bounce back from this and score a big contract. Tyler Johnson,who we wouldn’t know if we tripped over him, is making about $50 million in the NBA. So Derrick Rose is still going to get paid assuming he’s healthy.”
Rose is averaging 17.3 points, 4.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. New York may look to deal him – sooner rather than later.
“It’s a tough spot for the Knicks,” Isola said. “They care about Derrick Rose and the Knicks treat their players very well. But I think the Knicks also have to protect themselves and they also have to think long-term. With the trading deadline coming up, maybe the way to make Derrick Rose feel better is maybe try to move him to some type of contending team or get him in a better situation where the Knicks could get some type of asset for him. His contract is valuable because he’s going to be a free agent, and I think the Knicks, if you’re being realistic about it, the team is going to be Porzingis eventually. Carmelo is 32. So two years down the road, what kind of team are you going to be? I still think you have to look back at Derrick Rose’s physical health from years past. If you’re the Knicks, you have to say, ‘This really isn’t going to be our point guard of the future. It can’t be at this point.’ “I think if the Knicks were being smart here, I think they’d really have to try to do something to salvage something from this deal and maybe get some type of draft pick or maybe a young player. I think the Knicks should perhaps move on.
“Remember, the Knicks do have their own first-round pick this year,” Isola continued, “so I think making the playoffs would be great for them in a lot of ways. It’d be great for Porzingis to play in this kind of games, and I know the fans want to see it. But if you didn’t make the playoffs, it may not be the worst thing because at least this year the Knicks probably have a first-round pick.”