Tom Thibodeau always preaches the importance of someone on the Knicks taking advantage of opportunities and filling in whenever a teammate is sidelined, whether it’s four-time All-Star Kemba Walker or little-used rookies near the end of the bench.
Derrick Rose’s absence for at least the next eight weeks following ankle surgery Wednesday will test that mantra for a Knicks rotation that relied heavily on the former league MVP since he was reacquired last February for a second stint in New York.
The Knicks posted a 24-11 record last season with Rose — who previously had played for Thibodeau in Chicago and Minnesota — in the lineup. He also led the Knicks in scoring in the playoffs against Atlanta, before averaging 12.0 points and 4.0 assists in 26 appearances this season.
“I think the record obviously speaks for itself, and then his impact on the floor,” Thibodeau said before Thursday’s game against the Wizards. “So it was not only what he did himself, but he brought the best out of the people around them. To me, that’s the mark of a great player.”
Rose sat out the Knicks’ previous two games after departing their Dec. 16 win in Houston at halftime. He had been dealing with ankle issues for multiple years ahead of Wednesday’s surgery, according to multiple reports.
With Nerlens Noel added to the Knicks’ COVID protocols list, Mitchell Robinson was back in the starting lineup for the first time in nine games since Dec. 4. He’d posted 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots in 25 minutes off the bench in Tuesday’s win over Detroit.
The Knicks signed five-year NBA veteran guard Danuel House Jr. to a 10-day hardship contract. Earlier this week, they also had signed guards Damyean Dotson, Tyler Hall and Matt Mooney to fill out their depleted roster. House was waived by the Rockets on Dec. 18 after averaging 4.8 points over 16 games this season.