Jalen Rose could see the writing on the wall.
"I wasn't totally surprised," the Knicks' new swingman said last night at the Air Canada Centre after he was dealt to New York by the Raptors.
"I guess I probably would have been totally surprised had it been the team that hadn't been speculated basically since the Vince Carter trade. Everybody understands Toronto is in an active rebuilding mode. When you trade a player of his magnitude, you go from a team that vies for the playoffs ... to rebuilding mode. Obviously, with my age and salary, it was contended on paper I never fit (their) long-term plans."
Rose, who didn't play for the Knicks last night in a 104-90 loss to the Raptors, showed up just before the game, unlike the player who went the other way, Antonio Davis.
Rose was cheered by fans as he exited the arena and embraced several old teammates and employees.
"I had a lot of great times," Rose said of his Toronto days, which started when he was traded here from the Chicago Bulls for a package featuring the same Antonio Davis on Dec. 1, 2003.
"You're always judged by how many games you win and things of that nature. I can't draw back to any knockdown playoff performances or rivalries or things of that nature. It was a different kind of learning process for me because I got a chance to mentor a lot of young guys, be a leader, be a captain."
Rose, while acknowledging the Knicks also are rebuilding, feels the fifth team of his career wants to win immediately.
"It's a situation I think that's more geared, especially being in New York, to wanting to win and compete and being a playoff team, the sooner the better," he said.
Rose, who turned 33 on Monday, was asked how much he has left in the tank.
"I'm 33. I don't have nothing left. Don't tell anybody," Rose said before breaking into laughter. "I have a lot left."
Especially now that he is in the NBA's biggest market.
"After you've played 12 years," Rose said, "it's always good to feel wanted. I'm excited and I embrace the opportunity to be rejuvenated."