Derrick Rose has returned from injury several times during his NBA career, and he’s come back from a few far more serious than the double ankle surgeries that sidelined him since December of last season. .
The former league MVP turns 34 on Tuesday, but Rose admits he’s ‘super excited’ to be back on the court in the Knicks’ preseason opener against the Pistons at the Garden , his first game in almost 10 months.
“I feel very healthy. I feel like I’m going to play a lot of games – I mean, I know I’m going to play a lot of games this year,” Rose said after practice Monday in Tarrytown. “And yeah, I’m just thirsty to go out there and play. I feel lighter. I move a lot better. I’m not worried about my shot. My shot is superb.
“I’m just ready to go out there and help out in any way.”
Rose, 34, lost about 20 pounds this offseason at the behest of longtime coach Tom Thibodeau, who also worked with him previously with the Bulls and Timberwolves.
Rose has been a productive player when available since the Knicks acquired him from Detroit midway through the 2020-21 season, but the three-time All-Star played just 26 games (four starts) last season due to his ankle procedures in December and February.
“That’s the big thing is his health,” Thibodeau said. “When you get to where he is in his career, the important thing is to be light and lean. He was seriously committed to it from the end of last season, put in a lot of time this summer and I hope that this will give him his best chance of being healthy. We know that if he is healthy he is a great player and that is a big plus for the team.
“He has a lot of experience. He can help us in different ways. I think when he’s on the pitch it makes you play at a different pace and that’s huge for us.
After a 37-45 season resulting in a failed playoffs, the Knicks traded last year’s key playmakers Kemba Walker and Alec Burks to the Pistons this summer before landing Jalen Brunson as a free agent on a deal. four-year term worth $104 million.
Rose will likely form a second-unit backcourt again alongside Immanuel Quickley. Quentin Grimes will also open the season on the wing for this unit off the bench, with backup forward Obi Toppin and center Isaiah Hartenstein up front. Second-year guard Miles McBride could also push for playing time or step in if injured.
“We have a lot of guys who want to hoop, a lot of talented guys who want to play. Gotta fight a few guys to get spots [in practice]said Rose, before calling himself the original gangster. “Of course, play the OG [old-school] role, you’re pretty cool, get some reps here and there, but after three or four reps, I’m struggling with the youngsters to get my reps.
“So it’s like, wait. I know I’m in the old role of OG, but at the same time I still want to play. But Thibs did a great job mixing me up with different teams and making sure I was there.
Entering the second season of the three-year, $43.6 million contract he signed last summer, the 15-year-old veteran is confident he will establish his role on this year’s team once the games started.
“Usually when people come back from injuries they put you in these scenarios – one on one, two on two, three on two, three on three, all that stuff – but I just like jumping back into the game said Rose. “Staff are a bit nervous when they’re not there the first time I’ve been here or the second time I’ve been here, because it’s a bit unusual.
“But I feel like a player, like I’m going to figure it out. It’s not like I’m running 100 miles an hour like before. I kind of adapted my game to what it is now.
New York Post