Derrick Rose has surgery on right ankle, will miss at least 8 weeks
The Knicks spent $60 million on point guards Derrick Rose and Kemba Walker with an understanding that both are susceptible to injury.
And while Walker’s arthritic knee has triggered rest days early in this campaign, it was Rose’s ankle that required surgery.
The 33-year-old, who has arguably represented the Knicks best and most important player through 31 games, underwent surgery on his right ankle and will be re-evaluated in eight weeks, the team announced Wednesday.
Prior to the surgery, Rose missed two straight games with what the Knicks labeled a “sore ankle.” It apparently occurred in the first half of last week’s victory over the Rockets, when Rose sat the entire second half and coach Tom Thibodeau downplayed the injury as a tweak.
However, Rose’s ankle had been a source of sporadic pain and a report from ESPN, that he may return in just six weeks, suggested the surgery was arthroscopic.
Rose’s absence created another chance for Walker, who had been removed from the rotation but started the last two games at point guard. Thibodeau indicated that Walker will remain in the rotation after Tuesday’s victory over the Pistons, and now it’s easy to see the veteran’s path to playing time with Rose shelved for over a month.
“Performance matters. If you are playing well, you are going to be in there,” Thibodeau said after Walker dropped 21 points in Tuesday’s win over the Pistons. “That’s the way it works. I love Kemba. My job is to do what’s best for the team. And so, he’s playing great basketball. All the credit in the world to him. But the team winning is the most important thing. When we win, yeah, it’s great.”
Although Walker looked rejuvenated in the last two games, scouts are concerned about the long-term prospects of his knee and how it might look if he continues to pile on minutes. On Tuesday — after he logged 40 minutes against Detroit — Walker jokingly relayed his advice to his young teammates in COVID-19 protocols.
“My message to those guys is just get back because I’m playing a lot of minutes out there,” Walker said. “We need some more bodies. So get rid of that COVID.”
The Knicks, who host the Wizards on Thursday, also have four guards in COVID-19 protocols — RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, and Miles McBride. Obi Toppin was announced Wednesday as returning from COVID-19 protocols, but then Nerlens Noel became the latest to test positive.
Rose had been thrust into the starting lineup before his surgery because of the COVID-19 chaos, but he’s mostly been the Knicks’ catalyst off the bench since reuniting with Thibodeau last season. The team re-signed Rose to a three-year, $43 million deal in the summer, but only the first two seasons are guaranteed.
Rose has been saddled with injuries since becoming the league’s youngest MVP ever in 2011. He hasn’t played more than 66 games in a season in over a decade, and no more than 51 since 2017. He had surgery on his left ankle in 2017 to remove bone spurs. He’s also undergone multiple knee surgeries.