Derrick Rose will start in Knicks opener… on one condition

Derrick Rose’s legal troubles won’t keep him out of the starting lineup assuming the Knicks point guard is able to practice prior to Tuesday’s season opener in Cleveland.

Jeff Hornacek, who has not had Rose available to practice or play in preseason games for the last two weeks, said on Tuesday that his plan is to start Rose against LeBron James and the Cavaliers but only on one condition.

“We’ll have to see how he is, but I would anticipate yes, he probably would,” Hornacek said on Tuesday when asked if Rose will start. “If we had no practices or one practice and then we had to play the game then maybe it would be a different story. But we have three days to practice. He was there at training camp, so he has seen our stuff. I would probably say at this point, if he’s there at all our practices, I probably would start him.”

Rose is not expected to play in the Knicks’ final two preseason games: Wednesday in Boston against the Celtics and Thursday against the Nets in Brooklyn. Rose did appear in the preseason opener against Houston on Oct. 4 before flying to Los Angeles the following day for his civil rape trial. Testimony continued on Tuesday in the $21 million civil lawsuit and the belief is there will be a resolution by the end of the week.

If Rose doesn’t start against the Cavs he will be replaced in the lineup with Brandon Jennings. When the trial began, the Knicks were hoping to have Rose back by now. Instead, it has been a frustrating ordeal for a new head coach and a revamped roster. With one week before the start of the NBA regular season, Hornacek still doesn’t have a rotation.

“If Derrick was back we could figure out a rotation,” Hornacek added. “We’re still trying to find out if he’s missing. So we’re still trying to figure some things out that way. You wish you could go into the season with a set rotation, but that’s okay. Guys get to play and they’ll lay it out there.”

Hornacek does expect Kristaps Porzingis to return against the Celtics after the second year forward was forced to leave Saturday’s game with a groin injury. When the season starts, Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee will all start, presumably with Rose. That unit has yet to play together.

“I’m not worried,” Porzingis said. “But it’s always better to have the whole team here. We’re going to need some more time. That’s the only thing that’s going to happen. There’s going to be a process. He’s not going to jump in right away and he’s going to be perfect. He’s going to need to learn a little bit and we’re going to need to help him. It’s on us to do it together and to become the team that we want to become.”

Rose’s image has been damaged during the trial and the case could cost him a lucrative endorsement deal as well. Fox Business News reported that the case threatens the $185 million, 13-year deal Rose signed with Adidas in 2011. The deal likely includes a “morals clause” to protect the brand. Even if the jury rules in Rose’s favor he could still lose his deal.

Rose is a free agent who admitted last October that his focus was on his next contract. The trial could hurt his earning potential. And it seems even more ludicrous today than in late September, Knicks president Phil Jackson claimed that Rose was not losing any sleep over the trial. In fact, a person close to Rose said the case was weighing heavily on his mind prior to the start of training camp.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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