It was supposed to be a comeback season for Derrick Rose, one in which the former NBA MVP proved to the league that he was healthy and durable and had what it takes to help a team win.
Instead, Rose’s first — and possibly last — season in a Knicks uniform was a weird, sad odyssey that started with a sexual assault trial that caused him to miss most of training camp and officially ended with the Knicks’ announcement Sunday that he will have season-ending knee surgery.
The Knicks confirmed in the first quarter of Sunday’s 110-94 loss to the Boston Celtics that an MRI of Rose’s left knee revealed a torn meniscus that will require arthroscopic surgery. The only timetable the Knicks gave for Rose’s recovery is that he will miss the final five games of the season, but it generally takes six to eight weeks to come back from this type of surgery.
“Yeah, it’s tough for Derrick,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He’s played real hard all year. He’ll get that taken care of and probably get back. He worked hard last summer with yoga, those kind of things, to get his body in great shape. I feel bad for him.”
The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2008, Rose, 28, became the youngest MVP ever in 2010-11, his fourth season with the Bulls. He now heads into the summer as a free agent with an injury-riddled resume. Rose previously had surgery on his right meniscus twice and missed most of the 2014-15 season as a result. He also missed all of the 2012-13 season while recovering from surgery to repair a torn right ACL.
The Knicks obtained Rose in June in a multiplayer trade with Chicago. He is in the final year of a five-year, $94-million contract and had been hoping to prove that he still is the elite player he had shown himself to be earlier in his career.
Rose was not on the bench to watch the Knicks lose a meaningless game to the Celtics on Sunday. The Celtics, led by Isaiah Thomas’ 19 points, had six players score in double figures. Carmelo Anthony sat out for a second game with a sore lower back.
The Knicks’ Ron Baker said the entire team was shaken by the news of Rose’s injury.
“I think it’s tough for everybody in here,” Baker said. “We’re all a pretty close group. Derrick is obviously a great player, a great friend. Now that we’re out of the playoffs, it’s tough to see a guy that’s worked so hard all year like him get that injury. And I kind of know he’s low in spirit, but we’ll support him the best we can as teammates and hopefully he can get back to 100 percent during this offseason.”
Courtney Lee, who led the Knicks with 16 points and five assists, said the news was tough but added that the injury is something a player can recover from pretty quickly.
“I feel for him a lot in knowing the situation,” Lee said. “That’s a quick-healing injury. What is it six, seven weeks? So I mean it could have been worse, you can look at it that way.”
Rose had missed the previous two games with what the team described as soreness and swelling. He said Wednesday that he initially felt the discomfort in his knee before the Knicks’ win over the Pistons on Monday, a game in which he scored 27 points in 33 minutes. Rose said at the time that he didn’t believe the injury was anything serious or would need to be surgically repaired. He had expected to return to the court shortly.
Rose averaged 18.0 points and 4.4 assists in 64 games. He and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, repeatedly have said he would like to return. The Knicks might want to go in another direction, though, given that they have a high pick in a draft stocked with point guards.
“Yeah, I thought he’s played well,” Hornacek said. “The explosiveness that you saw from years ago, you saw that quite a bit this year. Again, the way the season has gone, to have something like that right toward the end, that’s a bad break for him.”
Only time will tell how bad.
Derrick Rose’s final stats for the 2016-17 season:
Minutes per game 32.5