By Scott Cacciola, nytimes.com
Phil Jackson appeared at a preseason news conference on Friday afternoon to discuss the Knicks’ revamped roster before training camp next week. He quickly found himself fending off questions about a potential civil trial involving rape allegations against Derrick Rose, one of his key off-season acquisitions.
“We anticipate that it will not affect his season, hopefully, training camp or games,” said Jackson, the president of the Knicks. “But we’re going to let the due process of the justice system work its way through in the next week or so. We want to put this to rest. There doesn’t need to be a lot of talk about this.”
When the Knicks open their preseason schedule Oct. 4 in Houston, Rose is scheduled to be in a courtroom in Los Angeles for the start of a civil case in which he is the defendant. A lawsuit filed by a former girlfriend of Rose’s alleges that he and two friends raped her in 2013 while she was unconscious. The woman is seeking $21.5 million in damages. No criminal charges have been filed.
In response to a question about Rose’s possible absence at training camp, Jackson said: “We’re just going to let the process work itself out. We’re not concerned. We understand this is a serious subject we’re talking about, but this has to be done outside of our control. It’s something we can’t control. So Derrick has expressed that he’s not concerned about it — I mean, he’s quite aware of it, but it’s not keeping him up at night. So we’re going to leave it at that, O.K.? Are we all right on that, guys?”
As much as Jackson would like to put an end to questions about Rose’s situation, it has the potential to loom over the Knicks throughout training camp — and beyond. Jackson declined to address whether he was worried about blowback from the public.
“I don’t think we’re going to talk about it,” he said. “Thanks, anyway, for the question.”
Jackson said in June that the Knicks had been aware of the allegations against Rose when they acquired him from the Chicago Bulls in a multiplayer trade.
Rose, 27, won the Most Valuable Player Award in the 2010-11 season, but knee injuries have slowed him. Still, the Knicks are expected to depend on Rose to ratchet up their tempo on offense after two plodding (and losing) seasons.
Jackson, who appeared at Friday’s news conference with Coach Jeff Hornacek and General Manager Steve Mills, also addressed the issue of potential player protests during the national anthem as the N.B.A. season gets underway. Jackson said that he had already discussed the subject with Carmelo Anthony and that he planned to meet with the entire team.
“We’re trying to measure what our players want to do,” Jackson said. “We want them to do something that they all feel genuine about.”
He added, “We want to do something that’s unified and representative of who we are, and we want to be respectful in its own way.”