By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) As this is written, the details surrounding Derrick Rose’s mysterious absence from Monday night’s Knicks game and current whereabouts remain sketchy at best.
The only thing that’s clear is that the bizarre circumstances that always seem to surround him are somebody else’s problem after eight years in Chicago were marked increasingly by too much confusion and disconnection. He became an unpredictable and reclusive weirdo prone to tone-deaf, selfish statements, and trading him away last June seemed to lift a cloud that covered everything about the Bulls.
First and most importantly, we hope that everything is actually OK and that early reports of a “family issue” here are either just cover or don’t indicate any serious problem. Regardless, Rose had no reason to skip out on work without contacting the team beforehand, and multiple outlets describe Rose as acutely unhappy regarding playing time.
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Rose had been “privately fuming over his diminished late-game role” and was at odds with coach Jeff Hornacek, of whom he “has been privately critical.” He also reported the possibility of a suspension.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News describes the Knicks as “imploding” and Rose as “pouting,” his relationship with Hornacek “frayed.” Isola sums up the situation by concluding that Rose “wants to strike it rich in free agency this summer. It’s been his obsession for two years now. Being benched for a losing team is not a good look. Maybe this will lead to Rose asking for a trade. Or perhaps even a buyout.”
The same thing is going on here with Rajon Rondo, except without the upcoming free-agency concern and also minus the legion of screaming fanboys who reflexively excuse his every me-first move because he happened to grow up in Chicago. That has always complicated everything regarding Rose, the misplaced idea that he was some kind of important civic asset to be coddled and protected no matter what he did or said.
Rose had already essentially relocated to Los Angeles, as you’ll remember from the lurid civil rape trial for which the Knicks excused his absences in October. The facts that emerged from sworn depositions then were enough to begin to erode much of his standing, and the timing of the trade to New York reinforced the idea that the Bulls moving on was clearly best for them.
Whether “listening to his body” to decide when he felt like playing or openly admitting he was more concerned both about future potential paydays and post-career health than working for his salary at the time, Rose has always done what he thought was most advantageous to him at any given point.
The Knicks might be bewildered, but they can’t be surprised.