Derrick Rose has played in the NBA for 15 years and has gone through the gauntlet of injuries in his time.
Most recently, Rose has been battling ankle issues as he comes off multiple surgeries and needs to be shut down on Dec. 16, the last time he appeared in a regular season game.
But Rose and Knicks head coach Tim Thibodeau has had a long-standing relationship, going back to Rose’s first stint with the Chicago Bulls, in which he was named the NBA MVP.
Thibodeau challenged Rose to come back prepared to contribute and be in better shape. Rose responded by losing 20 pounds in the offseason, and the 33-year-old appears to be in the best shape he’s been in recent years.
By this time last year, Rose checked in at around 215 pounds but now has shed down to 193. It’s actually the leanest he’s been since he initially entered the league as a star guard from Memphis.
“He was on my ass the whole time,” Rose said, mentioning his offseason conversations with Thibodeau after his surgery recovery.
Rose is easing his way back into the lineup and played 12 minutes off the bench in the Knicks’ preseason win over the Pacers on Friday.
New York won 131-114, and Rose scored seven points and dished out three assists over that period.
After the game, Rose mentioned that he knows he is ready and already in mid-season shape. It’s hard to argue, as several of his teammates, including Mitch Robinson and RJ Barrett, have both complimented Rose on his stamina in preseason workouts.
Barrett added that his teammates don’t worry about him at all because “it’s Derrick Rose.”
Rose has not appeared in more than 60 games since his first stint with the Knicks in 2016 (64). He played in a combined 50 games in 2020 and 2019, continuing US sports streaming trends of appearing in a more limited set of games.
Rose played just 26 games last year, averaging 12.0 ppg and 4.0 ast per game, and is looking to regain some of the forms that allowed him to be a huge part of the Knicks’ 2020 playoff season.
It’s also worth noting that when Rose ran the second team in the preseason matchup against the Pacers, his +/- rating was +5.
Rose will be ready for anything he’s asked to do this season, saying that it’s “whatever Thibs wants” in terms of his role on the team.
Knicks president Leon Rose, who was instrumental in bringing Rose back to New York, said that Rose is an established veteran that players look up to and is the team’s heart and soul.
Rose also played less in the preseason game because the Knicks needed to evaluate younger players as Thibodeau tried to figure out his rotation heading into his third year as head coach.
With Jalen Brunson signing a big contract with the Knicks in the offseason as the team’s starting point guard, Rose will likely be a key backup to him.