As he tells it, his AWOL night almost sounds thought out.
“My family is first,” Rose told The Vertical. “I didn’t make the decision off the strength of people caring about what I did. I went home, did what I had to do, because my family is before anything. I was going to take the fine of whatever it may be.”
But he admitted that tales of him being homesick in New York might be a tad overblown. “I know I left room for that, like space for people to think like that, but [Monday’s incident] had nothing to do with it. It doesn’t have anything to do with it,” Rose told The Vertical. “The great thing is, [Knicks president Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills], they knew exactly what it was and they knew where I was coming from. We had an understanding after I talked to [them].”
At every chance, Rose has been adamant about wanting to stay in New York after his contract expires this summer. Rose is hopeful that his brief disappearance won’t prohibit the two sides from reaching an agreement on a long-term deal. “When I was in the room, I felt like they understood where I was coming from,” Rose said. “I hope one incident didn’t change their mind. Who knows? This is a business. If it was to happen, I still would want to play the way I normally know how to play wherever I’m at.”
Here’s the problem with Rose’s explanation: If he had communicated better with the team, he probably wouldn’t have gotten fined. Players sometimes miss games for personal reasons, and it’s rarely a problem. This became an issue because he disappeared without telling his bosses.
Obviously, Rose will deny homesickness. In sports culture, that detracts from his desired image of toughness.
And of course this will dampen the Knicks, or any team’s desire, to sign him. He left his team in the dark during a game. The only question is how much – though no matter the answer, free agency will likely disappoint Rose if he’s seeking a max contract.