GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Derrick Rose has been away from the Knicks for two weeks, but if he can get a few practices in before the start of the regular season he likely will start opening night in Cleveland.
Jeff Hornacek said Rose worked out with the team enough before leaving for his civil sexual assault trial that if he’s back from Los Angeles later this week the coach would feel comfortable starting Rose against the NBA champion Cavaliers next Tuesday.
“We’ll have to see how he is, but I would anticipate yes, he probably would,” Hornacek said after practice on Tuesday. “If we had no practices or one practice and then we had to play the game then maybe it would be a different story. But we have three days to practice, he was there at training camp, so he has seen our stuff.
“I would probably say at this point if he’s there at all our practices I probably would start him.”
The Knicks are hopeful the trial in Los Angeles is nearing an end and that Rose, who has been in Los Angeles since Oct. 5, can rejoin them. They play their last two preseason games Wednesday in Boston and Thursday in Brooklyn.
Even if Rose returned in time for those games, Hornacek was doubtful that he would play in either game without going through a practice. Brandon Jennings has been starting in his place.
“If he’s not at a practice there’s no sense in playing,” Hornacek said. “Maybe if there’s a shootaround that he gets to, but even at that I doubt it. We have three days of practice after that.”
As a result, the new-look Knicks — who could have 10 new players on their roster — likely will go the entire preseason without their starting five playing a single minute together.
Rose, who was acquired in June from the Chicago Bulls, appeared in only their first preseason game, Oct. 4 at Houston. Their other big offseason acquisition, center Joakim Noah, missed the first three games with a hamstring injury.
“It’s not ideal but there are some veteran guys who know how to play,” Hornacek said. “Maybe we can find two or three things that really work and we can milk it until we can work on all the things. I think the other guys will lead Derrick along when he gets back. Some of the new things we put in we’ll have to sit down with him and take some extra time of learning it. Teams deal with injuries and stuff all the time so we have to adjust.”
Kristaps Porzingis, who left the Knicks’ last preseason game with a sore groin, went through practice in full Tuesday. Porzingis said with Rose missing so much the Knicks will take time to jell.
“It’s always better to have the whole team here,” Porzingis said. “We’re going to need some more time. That’s the only thing that’s going to happen. There’s going to be a process. He’s not going to jump in right away and he’s going to be perfect. He’s going to need to learn a little bit and we’re going to need to help him. It’s on us to do it together and to become the team that we want to become.”
Notes & quotes: In the NBA GMs’ annual survey, the Knicks received 10 percent of the votes for Most Improved Team behind Minnesota and Utah. Porzingis was voted the fourth-best international player . . . The Knicks re-signed Cleanthony Early, who will play for their D-League team.