Derrick Rose #4 of the New York Knicks controls the...

Derrick Rose #4 of the New York Knicks controls the ball against the Detroit Pistons at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022 in New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Derrick Rose had not played in an NBA game in 291 days before taking the court Tuesday night in the Knicks' preseason opener. When he stepped on the floor with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter, he almost immediately looked, well,  like Derrick Rose.

He led the second unit well, just as he had since arriving in New York midway through the 2020-21 season. After playing only five minutes and 31 seconds, Rose was subbed out and sat out the remainder of the game.

He doubled that Friday night in the Knicks' 131-114 win over the Indiana Pacers with 12 minutes of playing time.

As he enters his 14th NBA season, the 34-year-old is feeling healthier than he has in years, but he has little to prove during the preseason.

Rose said he has no concerns about how many minutes he plays in preseason games. He's content to get his work in and watch, like the rest of the Madison Square Garden crowd, as Obi Toppin put on a dunking exhibition in a 24-point performance.

“Yeah, it’s whatever Thibs wants,” Rose said, referring to  coach Tom Thibodeau, who has been around Rose for most of the former MVP’s career. “I think he’s trying to assess the younger guys, I guess guys trying to make the team. I mean, it’s a good sign for me because it let me know he’s not worried about me. Seriously, though, my conditioning, like I say every day, I’m picking it up . . . He’s more worried about my conditioning, which I think I passed the test.”

“It’s Derrick Rose,” RJ Barrett said. “He’s the last person we should be worried about. He knows what he’s doing. We don’t worry about him at all. Him more than a lot of people, he’s just really good at the game of basketball. He just goes in there and it’s so just instinctual with him. It just comes easy to him. He’s got it.”

While the Knicks spent the summer scouring the free agent and trade markets for help, a key to regaining their form this season could simply come from a good report on Rose’s health. Even at this later stage of his career, he remains one of the team's most important pieces.

The Knicks' run to the postseason in 2021 coincided with the arrival of Rose in February. The team was 11-14 when he made his debut and went 30-17 the rest of the way to earn the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. In the final game of the playoffs, Rose was in the starting lineup.

Last season, Rose appeared in only 26 games before missing the rest of the season because of ankle surgery and other complications. The Knicks went 24-29 after Rose was shut down in mid-December and missed the playoffs.

“He’s really a leader out there and just a floor general,” Barrett said. “He controls the game when he’s out there, so we definitely missed his leadership and his spirit out there.”

Even with the addition of Jalen Brunson at the point guard spot, the Knicks' strength appears to be their depth with a second unit led by Rose along with Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, Toppin, Isaiah Hartenstein and possibly Cam Reddish.

“That’s what it’s about right now — having a deep team,” Rose said. “You look at every team that had deep runs or won a championship. Golden State — they have a deep team. Even from one to the last guy on the bench, everybody can play.

“Everybody is trying to add on to their game from the previous year. You don’t got to make a large jump. Just make a small jump if you’re a younger guy. Small jump for the betterment of the team. It can be shooting. Passing. Putting the ball on the laces. It could be talking. Whatever it is. But we need you to come back a little better than last year.”

Notes & quotes: Evan Fournier was held out Friday for a rest day. Reddish, who suffered a sprained ankle Tuesday, got the start with Grimes still sidelined and had two points on 1-for-7 shooting.