By John Schmeelk
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Ironically, even after the team and Derrick Rose spoke to the media about his absence from the Knicks’ game Monday night, there’s still some level of mystery as to what happened and why.
There’s no reason not to take Rose at his word that he had a family emergency back in Chicago and had to leave. Those types of things happen and everyone from the organization to the fans would have been fine if Rose had to miss the game to be with his mother.
But this is the Knicks, so of course there has to be more to the story than that. Inexplicably, Rose elected not to answer a Knicks phone call or take 10 seconds to text the team that he would not be able to play. Rose’s texting ability has been proven to be beyond reproach, leaving no plausible or acceptable reason for him not to notify the team of his absence. Leaving your team in that position with no communication cannot be permissible. “I just needed that space to myself and to be with my mother” is not a real reason for an adult not to send a text or pick up a call.
The Knicks will fine Rose for the missed game, but that can’t be his only punishment. Some level of suspension needs to be part of the equation to show that displaying such disregard for the team and his teammates is not acceptable behavior. No matter what is happening, sending a text from the car on the way to the airport or while waiting for the plane is not asking too much. Rose admitted he should have notified the team. He knows he did something wrong.
Other than speculation, there’s no reason to think that Rose’s absence represented some kind of protest against the Knicks or coach Jeff Hornacke. So far this season, he hasn’t verbalized any displeasure with his coach. A suspension is still in order. Inmates can’t be seen to be running the asylum, and there needs to be a level of accountability with the team.
One fair criticism of Hornacek so far this year is that he hasn’t done enough to punish players for not playing defense or following his direction. There haven’t been mass benchings, changing of lineups or anything else drastic to send a message to his team that playing this poorly will not be tolerated. Punishing Rose for this with a suspension could have been an easy place to start, and no one would have argued with it.
Big picture-wise, if this absence makes the Knicks less likely to sign Rose long term, then it’s a good thing. Even before this incident, the idea of re-signing Rose should have been a nonstarter. His 17.3 points-per-game average is fine, but that’s where it ends.
His true shooting percentage is just 50.3, ranked 306th in the league. His effective field goal percentage is 45.4 percent, ranked 342nd in the league. Both those metrics take into consideration a player’s 3-point and free throw frequency and percentage to give a good idea out how efficient he is at scoring. Rose shoots the few 3’s he takes at a low percentage and doesn’t get to the line nearly enough, limiting his value offensively. Rose is not an efficient scorer.
That could be forgiven if he was an excellent facilitator, but he isn’t. Despite having a usage percentage of 26 (51st in the league and second highest on the Knicks), Rose is averaging just 4.5 assists per game with a turnover ratio of 1.84 (144th in the NBA).
There’s no question that Rose’s athleticism has returned to an impressive level, but he isn’t doing enough with it offensively to score himself or set up his teammates to be a truly positive influence.
That’s not even accounting for Rose’s defense, which has been nonexistent. Once again, Rose ranks near the bottom of defensive real plus-minus among points guards, ranking 73rd out of 85 players. He was bad defensively last year, and he is again this season.
In terms of overall play, his overall real plus-minus has him ranked 61st among all point guards. Don’t like RPM? In terms of PER (player efficiency rating), Rose ranks 25th among all point guards, making him a low-end starter.
Rose is exciting to watch and can wow with the crossover, but that doesn’t mean he is a winning point guard. He is a poor defender, isn’t an efficient scorer and doesn’t set up his teammates enough. He is going to want more than $20 millions a year. In plain language, he isn’t worth it, before or after going AWOL from the Knicks.
Oh, and by the way, he’s injury prone, too. Don’t forget that.
If the Knicks are smart, the Derrick Rose era in New York will be a short one, even if that means he was a rent-a-player for one year. Making an already bad trade look slightly better is not a reason to trap the team with a point guard that won’t take the team where it wants to go. The Knicks would be much better off signing someone such as Jrue Holiday in the offseason instead.
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