Since becoming the youngest MVP in NBA history in 2011, Derrick Rose has undergone four knee surgeries. As a result, he’s no longer a superstar in the league, and the former Chicago Bulls star almost walked away from the game in 2017.
However, Rose never gave up despite pundits and fans bashing him left and right, and he rejuvenated his career in 2018-19 with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now in his second stint with the New York Knicks and coming off a productive 2021 playoffs where he led the team in scoring, Rose is an inspiration to many players who have suffered setbacks, and his new teammate can’t wait to pick his brain.
Kemba Walker on Derrick Rose: I love D-Rose
The Knicks signed Kemba Walker after the All-Star guard reached a buyout agreement with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The New York native, who has known Rose since high school, has tremendous respect for the Memphis product and is looking forward to playing with him.
“I love D-Rose. I have always been a huge D-Rose fan, man. Just the way he carries himself, he just seemed like such a great dude. Young MVP, got hurt, so many people just talked so bad about him, but he just kept fighting, he kept fighting. Look at him now, he’s right back, and he’s been around for a long time now,” Walker told Steve Serby of the New York Post. “But he’s had his situation with his knee, but you can tell how much work he’s put in. And I feel like me going through a situation with my knee and yada yada, he’s a guy who I can look to and ask questions, and pick his brain.”
Both Walker and Rose have documented knee injuries. The latter tore his left ACL in 2012, his right meniscus in 2013 and 2015, and his left meniscus in 2017. Meanwhile, the former underwent a stem cell procedure on his ailing left knee last season, a strong indicator he is suffering from a type of arthritis that could significantly impact the rest of his career.
The Knicks won 41 games last season with Elfrid Payton as their starting point guard, so they should be enthusiastic about replacing the veteran with Walker, who was pretty good in 2020-21 before his knee started acting up. As for Rose, he will remain in the Sixth Man spot, a role he’s flourished in over the past couple of seasons, but he can also start if Walker’s knee isn’t feeling strong.
Derrick Rose turned the Knicks’ season around in 2020-21
The Knicks were only 11-15 when they acquired Rose from the Detroit Pistons on February 8, 2021. The Chicago native appeared in 35 games with New York following the trade, and Tom Thibodeau’s group went 24-11.
Rose averaged 14.9 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 48.7% from the field with the Knicks in the regular season. While those are solid numbers, he took his game to another level in the 2021 playoffs. The three-time All-Star put up 19.4 points and 5.0 assists per game and helped the Knicks win Game 2 of their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks by scoring 26 points in 38 minutes.
The Knicks lost to the Hawks in five games, mainly because Julius Randle shot 29.8% overall. Rose banged knees with an Atlanta player in Game 4 and was only able to play 26 minutes the next game. With their leading scorer hobbled, New York lost Game 5 by 14 points at home.
Signing Walker to a team-friendly deal (two years, $17.9 million) was a great move by Knicks president Leon Rose. New York now has two guards who can produce at a high level when they’re healthy, and the organization is getting a guy in Walker who is motivated to put on a show in his hometown.
Kemba Walker is excited to play at home
Rose began his career with his hometown Bulls. Now, Walker may finish his career with his hometown Knicks, and he’s going to do whatever it takes to win a championship in the Big Apple.
“There’s nothing more I will want than to win a championship in New York,” Walker said. “That would be special. Especially being from here. That’d be amazing. I think they know me pretty well. It’s gonna be fun. I’m gonna give it everything I got. Every time I step on the court I’m gonna play super-hard, 110 percent.”
Walker averaged 19.3 points and 4.9 assists for the Boston Celtics in 2020-21. The Knicks will need his knees and Rose’s to hold up in 2021-22 since they are two of the best scorers on the team. If that happens, New York could make some serious noise in the East.