Derrick Rose could return to Knicks after All-Star break

Derrick Rose has not played since the first half of the Knicks’ Dec. 16 game against the Houston Rockets. (David J. Phillip/AP)

Derrick Rose might be waiting for the Knicks on the other side of the All-Star break.

Speaking with reporters for the first time since December, Rose said he could return after that Feb. 18-20 weekend. The Knicks return from the break with a game on Feb. 25 against the Heat — which would be Rose’s first chance to play after All-Star weekend if he’s given the green light.

“I felt relief right away, right after surgery,” Rose said Sunday. “These moments right here, they slow you down, so just being very, very appreciative of where I’m at and how much I did just to get where I’m at right now.”

Rose was first sidelined with what the Knicks said was a “sore ankle” midway through their game against the Rockets on dec. 16..

He played 12 minutes of that game — which they eventually won, 116-103 — then was ruled out for the second half with an ankle injury. Tom Thibodeau downplayed the severity of Rose’s injury, saying the point guard tweaked his ankle.

Rose did not dress for the Knicks’ next game on Dec. 18 in Boston and was listed as inactive for their Dec. 21 game against the Pistons.

Then, on Dec. 22, Rose had ankle surgery.

Before the surgery, Rose had been playing more minutes in the starting lineup due to the team’s rash of COVID-19 absences.

In the two starts he made before the Rockets game, he averaged 35.4 minutes 16.5 points, 6.5 assists, three rebounds and two steals.

In the 21 games Rose has missed so far, the Knicks have struggled. Friday’s 123-108 loss to the Bucks dropped them to 23-27.

When asked whether Rose, one of the Knicks’ leaders in the locker room, has been able to give his input on what he’s seeing from his teammate in games, he said: “I never wanted to be the dude that wasn’t playing, that was saying too much. You don’t want to be that dude. You’re saying a lot, you’re calling out everything, but you’re not in the game. I say what I need to say at times, but it’s never like I’m beating them over the head with certain instructions or telling them what I see. I gotta let them play and figure things out and communicate on their own so that they actually grow, get some chemistry together.

If Rose returns for the Knicks’ Feb. 25 game, he’ll have missed 30 games in recovery from his ankle surgery.

When asked what he thinks the Knicks’ issue is, he said: “For right now, it’s what we’ve been saying the whole year. It’s urgency. Just playing with a sense of urgency. Don’t know when we’re gonna get it or where we’re gonna get it, but it’s just making sure we stay together during this process. We’re four games under. It could change right away in the East everyone’s kinda bunched up, like three or four teams with kinda the same record.

“So it’s a chance there,” he continued, “but it’s about clicking at the right time and figuring things out while you’re on the court, adapting while you’re playing instead of waiting after the game and trying to make those adjustments.”

Rose, who re-signed with the Knicks on a three-year, $43 million deal over the summer, has dealt with significant 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.

In 26 games mostly as the Knicks’ catalyst off the bench this season, Rose has averaged 12 points, shooting over 40% from the field, with four assists and three rebounds.