Derrick Rose looks for a free agent home, after it 'sucked losing' 51 games with the Knicks

Ball Don't Lie
Derrick and P.J. Rose. (Getty Images)
Derrick and P.J. Rose. (Getty Images)

Derrick Rose attended the Chicago Bulls/Boston Celtics playoff game on Sunday, and why not? Rose, a Chicago native and Bulls guard from 2008 through 2016, was just like any other Chicago native on Sunday afternoon – anxious to see how the home team would respond to its second game without lead point guard Rajon Rondo, fighting for a win in the face of Boston MVP candidate at the same position, Isaiah Thomas.

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Or, technical New York Knick-point guard Derrick Rose could have been at the Bulls’ loss in a bid to keep the click and chat trickle steady in the weeks between what will most assuredly be his final game with the New York Knicks (right? RIGHT?) and the first, fully-fledged free agent turn of his career. Derrick is free to sign with any NBA team come July, and it’s good to remind people of us much.

Whatever the impetus, the 2011 NBA MVP took in a deserved round of basketball cheers during Chicago’s Game 3 defeat:

One of the last memories Rose provided Chicago fans with was his odd, 2015 training camp discussion regarding his “impending” 2017 free agency. It was talk, borderline unsolicited, offered to the media 23 months before the actual free agency period officially began, after Rose had missed a total of 171 games in the preceding 42 months. Two entire basketball seasons have passed since, though over two months remain until Rose can officially ink with his new team.

In a world where even Rajon Rondo can be rehabilitated over the course of four days, Rose is eager to cash in. From a discussion with the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson:

“I’m going into it with an open mind and will listen to everyone.”

Save for New York, I’m sure! It’s Rose’s first unfettered free agent run of his career, after signing a 2011 contract extension with Chicago prior to his rookie contract’s expiration. He’d probably want no part of re-joining the 31-win Knicks, the team that missed the playoffs in yet another injury-clipped season for the 28-year old point guard. Righto, Derrick?

“Last season sucked losing.”

Makes sense. NYC’s in the rear-view mirror after only 64 games and fewer than half as many wins. And this is as far as we get into the free agent conversation without Derrick Rose reminding us that the Knicks have a weird president and Derrick Rose can’t count ever out the team that dealt Robin Lopez for him in the first place:

“But it was a great experience.”

Many things are.

“I loved the guys that I played with and I loved the coaching staff. And who wouldn’t like playing in New York? It was great.”

Hard to argue with the man. The man who left the Knicks midseason without informing the club, the guy who complained about the team’s chosen hybrid of offense one game into the 2016-17 season. Rose truly did seem to get along with his Knick collaborators in mutually assured distress, and his ability to work his way into the paint was a strong improvement over his predecessor, but overall it seemed a lacking experience for all, no?

The Knicks nearly traded Rose to Minnesota during the trade deadline but demurred, presumably fearing Rubio’s ongoing contract. If that’s the priority, then why muck up a cap situation in re-signing Rose, even if the Knicks are only challenged by suitors offering glorified versions of make-good contracts?

Is Rose that daffy, or that cynical and craven, or some godless mix of the two? He went on:

Derrick Rose attended Bulls-Celtics Game 4 + managed to make Knicks fans feel even worse

A post shared by Ball Don't Lie (@yahooballdontlie) on Apr 24, 2017 at 12:30pm PDT

(The comment listed above was made with reference to his son, that the Boston/Bulls matchup “seemed like a good series” and that Rose “just wanted to show [son P.J.] a good time. That was it.” Still, it’s not as if Derrick is allowed to take P.J. Rose to Knicks playoff games in late April 2017, so we shall continue apace.)

If even the slight nod in New York’s direction seems out of place, especially in the United Center setting, Stefan Bondy is here to remind us of what Knick president Phil Jackson said recently concerning Rose’s future in Chicago:

“(Rose) expressed that he wants to be back. We talked about him going through rehab and work and whatever he has to do.

“And he’s chosen to go back to Chicago to do that. He’ll also be in L.A. but he also took the time out to say he really he enjoyed playing here even with the losses, which of course suprises us because he’s been on some very successful teams but he wants to redeem himself as a player. Which I like that attitude. I like who Derrick represents as himself. He’s very direct about taking on a big challenge.”

To triangle dorks, it’s obvious what Phil Jackson saw in Rose from the beginning. The caricatural portrait of the triangle offense paints its interest in the point guard position to rank just slightly above the your typical embrace of an encroaching bout of gyro meat poisoning. Why let one man, one small man, pass the ball around exclusively when the Seven Principles CLEARLY STATE that the movement is for all to share in?

That brush stroke is fair. Jackson probably had the same hopes in place for Rose that he did for Ron Harper in 1994, upon Chicago’s signing the former 20-point scorer to a free agent contract years after a left ACL tear rocked his career. Phil Jackson is forever trying to find spaces within his offense for offense-only slashers who would only touch the ball for a second prior to finishing his shot around the goal, and if Rose could play off the ball properly the former 25-point scorer could find new life in the triple post offense.

Instead, Rose stayed on the ball, pining for the pick and rolls from the outset. He flourished in other, smaller ways which helped the Knick offense at times, but overall his presence was that of a millstone. Defensive inattention mixed with significant limitations on offense can only combine to contribute so much in 2017.

That was before the meniscus tear, mind you. Derrick Rose will now attempt an unprecedented NBA comeback from a combined package that features meniscus tears in both knees, and in his career-halting 2012 ACL tear. Significant questions should abound as to whether Rose will be able to approximate his 2016-17 production (18 points in 32 minutes, 4.4 assists) in what should be his in-prime year in 2017-18.

To that, Rose offers what he should:

“It’s good,” Rose said of his knee. “Right now, I’m doing rehab. It’s going to take time. I’ll be back before the season starts. So I’m not worried about that.”

Rose’s future employers know the point guard will be available for active duty prior to his 29th birthday in October, they’re just not sure about employing him into his 30s. Those are just the ones considering hiring him in the first place – others aren’t sure about that age 29 season in 2017-18, after that second meniscus tear. Even after “uncomplicated” surgery. Many remain uneasy about comments Rose made while fighting rape allegations in a civil trial, as if those fears are somewhat comparable to a point guard’s fourth knee surgery.

What is certain is that Rose is open for harmony at even the oddest angles, understandable for a free agent in his position, starting with the team that drafted him all the way back in 2008:

Dammit, the Bulls are going to sign Derrick Rose, aren’t they?

It looks as if Chicago and Derrick Rose have at least made the preliminary steps toward a reconciliation, but the Bulls aren’t alone. I guess.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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