WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Derrick Rose said last week he isn’t worried about a rape trial set to start this week because he feels he “didn’t do anything wrong.”
Rose said he is instead focused on his first season with the New York Knicks.
“My concern is just playing well this year,” Rose said. “I can’t think about the case. I feel like I’m innocent and I feel like I didn’t do anything wrong, like I said, and I can’t let that distract me with the year that I have ahead of me.”
A woman sued Rose last year in California, contending the former MVP and two of his friends raped her in August 2013 while she was incapacitated after a night of drinking. Rose and the others say they had consensual sex with her that night.
The civil trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 4 — barring any settlement — the day the Knicks play their exhibition opener in Houston. It’s unclear how much, if any, of the preseason he would have to miss if there is a trial.
“I’m not worried about it, but if I do have to miss time, it’s a part of it,” Rose said. “Of course I don’t want to be in this position, but it is what it is and I’m going to let my lawyers and my team handle it.”
Rose added that he hadn’t heard anything about a possibility of criminal charges being brought.
The Knicks acquired Rose from Chicago in June. The point guard said he is healthy after a series of injuries, mostly to his knees, that have plagued him since his MVP season in 2011.
Because of the injuries, Rose hasn’t played in more than 66 games a season since he first tore his ACL in the 2012 playoffs. Rehab has forced him to report early or stay late after practices and games for much of the last few years, which he said was tiresome.
But he was able to focus on basketball this summer while adding yoga to his workout routine, and Knicks who have been playing with him say Rose’s quickness has returned.
“He’s extremely focused right now,” All-Star Carmelo Anthony said, adding that he’s never played with a point guard with Rose’s explosiveness. “He’s healthy, he has a different mindset. He has a clear mind and he’s ready to go out there and try to help us with our goals.”
Rose was the biggest addition to a Knicks team that also signed his former Bulls teammate, Joakim Noah, and veteran guards Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings. If he remains healthy, Rose can get the Knicks playing at a quicker pace and create easier baskets under new coach Jeff Hornacek, after their offense often stalled while playing the triangle under Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis the last two years.
Lee said Rose, who once hit a game-winning shot over him while Lee played for Houston, has looked confident during offseason workouts.
“He kind of reminded me of that MVP D-Rose, especially in some of the drills that we were doing,” Lee said. “He was able to get to his spots quick, explosiveness and knock down shots.”
Rose averaged 16.4 points in 66 games last season, and most of the games he missed were unrelated to his knees. The Chicago native has been focused on learning a new city and team, traveling with a group of Knicks players to practice in Puerto Rico at Anthony’s invitation.
Having to miss time in October would delay his ability to get comfortable. A settlement would prevent that, but Rose didn’t discuss that possibility, praising his legal team for taking care of the details.
“They’re handling everything and they’re giving me time to focus on what I need to focus on and that’s just straight basketball,” Rose said.