MEMPHIS — Knicks point guard Derrick Rose understands what Alec Burks is going through as he works his way into condition after fighting off COVID-19.
It took Rose a bit, too, to get back his wind and shed pounds after his quarantine and symptoms before the All-Star break. He says he’s almost there. Imagine when Rose really feels fully fit.
Rose’s surge has coincided with the Knicks winning 11 of their previous 12 games entering Monday’s matchup with the Grizzlies. Burks is on the verge of returning after missing the last eight games.
While Julius Randle went wild in Houston to start off the six-game trip with a rout on Sunday, Rose was almost as spectacular. He scored from everywhere — even on an offensive-rebound putback — as he dropped 24 points on the Rockets.
“I’m trying to drop some pounds now,’’ Rose said before facing Memphis, where he has plenty of fans from his college days. “During COVID, I gained some weight. I was eating a lot. In practices I’m trying to do extra conditioning. Or whenever I get a chance to do my three-minute runs I do that, so I could lose two or three more pounds.”
Rose and Burks are the only two Knicks who were quarantined after contracting COVID-19. Frank Ntilikina missed time because he was in contact with an individual with the virus.
During his first stint with the Knicks, something else upended Rose’s season. Late in that season, on April 7, 2017, Rose had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee and the Knicks elected against re-signing him.
That’s when Jeff Hornacek, now a Rockets assistant, was Knicks coach. The two chatted in Houston, trading COVID-19 war stories as the Rockets have been decimated.
After Rose got traded to the Knicks from Detroit on Super Bowl Sunday, The Post reported he was on an unofficial minutes restriction with the Pistons at roughly 25.
With starting point guard Elfrid Payton on a slide, Rose’s minutes keep increasing. During this 11-1 run, Rose has averaged 28 minutes.
Rose said he never knew of “a set number’’ in Detroit. The Post reported the Pistons felt there was a drop-off after 23-25 minutes.
At age 32 and despite several knee surgeries, Rose preferred no limitations.
“I mean it’s all Thibs,” Rose said of the Kniks coach. “It’s whatever the team needs, whatever they want me to do, I’ll go out there and play. It wasn’t a set number or anything. In the past, people were throwing out different numbers, saying when I played over 26 minutes, that I will get injured or crazy stories like that, which I didn’t understand.’’
It’s not the main reason Rose wanted out of Detroit, but he knew he could trust his all-time favorite coach Tom Thibodeau, who was accused of wearing Rose down early in his career, resulting in his knee issues.
“Practice, you have an hour-and-a-half practice and I’m on my feet moving around and practicing for an hour-and-a-half, two hours during training camp,’’ Rose said. “And they overlooked the practice. How do you overlook the 1 ½ hours, two hours I’m on the court in practice but tell me I can’t play more than 26 minutes in the game? It makes no sense. Especially with the way I’m playing now.”
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