Derrick Rose details what makes the Knicks so special this season

New York Knicks, NYK

When the New York Knicks traded for veteran point guard Derrick Rose, nobody expected him to be such an influential piece this season. The three-time All-Star is averaging 12.9 points, 3.9 assists, and is shooting .432 from the field. In other words, he has been fantastic for a team that desperately needed support at the position.

To showcase just how influential Rose has been, let’s take a look at his last performance against New Orleans Pelicans when he scored 23 points. Rose shot 9-of-17 from the field and 2-of-4 from three-point land, also connecting on 3-of-4 free throws. His biggest moment came in the final seconds of the game, as the Pelicans allowed him a free run to the basket, but the Knicks needed three points. His agility and speed drew attention, forcing a perimeter defender to commit inside, kicking the ball out to Reggie Bullock, who drained a three-point shot to tie the game with about two seconds left on the clock.

The Knicks went on to win by 10 points in overtime, extending their winning streak to six and displaying a change in mentality compared to the past few seasons. Rose understands that this is a special situation with players who are all mentally on the same page, which can oftentimes be the demise or success of any given team.

“It’s great being on a young team where everybody is locked in, everybody loves playing with one another and everyone is on the same page — which is to win games,” Rose said. “So it’s perfect.”

Head coach Tom Thibodeau has Rose coming off the bench, utilizing his veteran mentality and instant offensive production to fuel the team. While he is coming off the bench, he played 35 minutes compared to Elfrid Payton’s 20 in the victory over New Orleans. It is clear that Derrick offers more on both sides of the ball, including the ability to manage the tempo of the game.

“With this team, I don’t have to do much” said Rose, who recovered from a nasty battle with COVID-19 last month. “When I was in Chicago, I always had the pressure of trying to score 25 or 30 points every night just to have a chance. Whereas here, I can kind of see what the game needs and adjust.”

Thibodeau also chimed in to give his two cents, and it is clear that he understands how to use the 32-year-old PG. With the amount of experience he’s had in the NBA, he knows how to shift momentum and control the tempo of a contest. That skill paired with the ability to maximize the players on the floor is special. Rose has been an absolute godsend for the Knicks this season and might even be worthy of a one-year extension in 2022.

“He did it early on, like most young players, with his talent. And he didn’t have the experience that he has now,” Thibodeau said. “So he has the mental part now. You combine the mental with the talent and you’re getting a different type of player. ….With the experiences he’s had, he’s learned a lot over the years.”

Playoffs in Derrick Rose’s mind but Knicks must take care of little things

When Derrick Rose sought Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey’s blessing to reunite with Tom Thibodeau in New York, he thought of playing in the playoffs.

That mindset hasn’t changed despite Rose missing an extended period of time due to COVID-19 and the New York Knicks (25-26) falling outside the top six in the East.

The Knicks have lost eight of their 14 games since the All-Star break entering Wednesday’s important matchup against their Atlantic Division rival Boston Celtics, who have an identical 25-26 record.

Rose admitted he is still working on his conditioning despite coming off with a 16-point performance in the tough two-point loss to the Brooklyn Nets last Monday.

“Having COVID(-19), coming back in, missing the game, I’m just trying to get my rhythm. I’m trying to get my timing down, trying to get my wind, but that’s going to come,” Rose said after their morning shootaround in Boston on Wednesday. “I’m trying to use these last 20-something games to prepare myself for a playoff series.”

Rose isn’t thinking of a play-in scenario. He was honest that he’s not fully aware of the new format the NBA introduced in the Orlando Bubble last season to spice things up heading into the playoffs.

“I really don’t know the rules of it,” Rose said. “What is it? How many games do you have to play?”

The play-in tournament has the 7th to 10th teams battling for the last two playoff spots, with the loser of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 facing the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10.

Rose doesn’t want anything to do with that and wants to go straight to the playoffs.

“I heard about it last year but didn’t pay too much attention to it. We weren’t in the playoffs and I don’t watch basketball like that. If we’re there, we have to play those games,” said Rose who missed the Orlando Bubble with the Pistons last season. “But we want to avoid that and just try to win as many games as possible. So we don’t have to worry about that. That’s our ideal choice if we can pick it.”

The Knicks are 2-3 since Rose returned from his COVID-19 battle. He had a solid first half against Kyrie Irving and the Nets with 15 points. But Rose only scored on one free throw in the second half. Clearly, he’s not yet where he wants to be conditioning-wise.

It’s going to take some time but it’s going day by day, practice by practice, and in the game, quarter by quarter. I had a pretty good half last game and now the goal is to have two legit halves and just play as hard as I can so I can build up my wind,” Rose said.

The Knicks were careless and have blown double-digit leads in their last three losses. Their only win against a team above .500 since January came at the expense of a Milwaukee Bucks team who were missing seven players, including four of their starters led by back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Knicks failed to capitalize on some winnable games. They’ve lost to the league’s worst Minnesota Timberwolves. They couldn’t stop Luka Doncic and Irving.

The Nets game could have been theirs after James Harden’s hamstring injury acted up four minutes into the game. For a while, they appeared to have seized the opportunity, building a 14-point lead only to squander it easily— an alarming trend in the Knicks losses.

With only Irving left from the Nets’ Big 3, the Knicks blew their chance of beating their rivals across the river. Instead of stepping up, they shrunk in the big moments.

Instead of taking care of the little things, they overlooked them.

Julius Randle, who misfired on a potential game-tying jumper at the end, somehow lost his focus down the stretch after his scuffle with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot midway in the fourth quarter.

The Knicks All-Star forward turned the ball over in the next play after he and Luwawu-Cabarrot earned double technical fouls. And Randle only scored on a pair of free throws the rest of the way.

“I’m not sure what his problem was,” Randle said afterward. “Like I said, he’s not a guy I’m worried about when I’m playing.”

The player who was the least of his worries killed them in the end as Luwawu-Cabarrot came back to haunt him and the Knicks.

Luwawu-Cabarrot, who finished with nine points, three assists, and three rebounds, made the most important play of the game. He tipped in a Joe Harris’ miss to Jeff Green, who sank the game-winning free throws.

The Knicks forgot to box him out. And they paid dearly for it.

In three (Miami, Minnesota, and Brooklyn) of their last four losses, the Knicks got beaten in the offensive glass.

Had the Knicks been careful, they could have maintained their top-four standing in the East. But that’s water under the bridge now.

Tonight, they have been afforded another golden opportunity as the Celtics will be without Kemba Walker (load management) and trade deadline acquisition Evan Fournier (health and safety protocols).

The Knicks could learn from Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington) in the 2021 movie “Little Things.”

“It’s the little things that are important, Jimmy. It’s the little things that get you caught,” Deacon reminded young investigator Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) in the dark crime thriller. And later: “It’s the little things that rip you apart.”

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Mitchell Robinson’s latest injury comes at a critical time for Knicks

Derrick Rose choked up.

“I’m lost for words,” an emotional Rose told Mike Breen, who delivered the devastating news of Mitchell Robinson suffering a fractured right foot.

The postgame interview turned emotional.

It was a tough Saturday night for the New York Knicks in Milwaukee despite coming out with a 102-96 victory at the Fiserv Forum.

The Knicks were without two starters. Then they lost Robinson in the first quarter. But they were still expected to safely cruise to an easy win, with the Bucks missing seven players, including four starters.

The Knicks had to lean on Alec Burks’ heroics to survive the night.

Burks shattered a 96-deadlock with a three-pointer in the final 79 seconds, then sealed the Knicks’ 24th win at the line after the Bucks missed their three-point tries.

The Bucks played without seven players, including four starters led by Giannis Antetokounmpo. But they had another Antetokounmpo—Thanasis, who poured in a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds and almost led an upset.

The Knicks were also missing two starters—All-Star Julius Randle, who missed his first game of the season with a contused right thigh, and Reggie Bullock is still nursing a sprained right ankle. Then Robinson joined the list of casualty. But the team only learned the severity of the injury after their gutsy win.

Left with a rag-tag team, Mike Budenholzer almost thwarted the Knicks with zone defense. New York, however, hit 16 of 44 three-pointers to survive.

A back-to-back three-pointer from Burks and rookie Immanuel Quickley opened up a 10-point lead, 87-77, for the Knicks at the onset of the final quarter. But the Bucks’ version of ‘The Replacements’ refused to fold up easily.

Pat Connaughton, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and undrafted rookie Mamadi Diakite joined forces to bring Milwaukee within two points, 96-94. Brook Lopez, the lone starter left available for Budenholzer, punctuated the Bucks’ rally with a slam off Antetokounmpo’s fifth assist, with 1:35 left in the game.

Rose, who just came back from his battle with COVID-19, was trapped in the middle of the lane. He kicked it out to Quickley, who quickly swung it to a wide-open Burks for the go-ahead three-pointer.

It was Quickley’s fifth assist and Burks’ sixth three-pointer. The pivotal play was a reflection of the Knicks’ collective effort to go up two games above .500 (24-22) for the first time since January.

The Knicks registered a season-high 28 assists.

Barrett led the Knicks with a season-high seven assists that went with seven boards and 21 points, picking up the mantle of leadership for Randle.

“Today was a little bit different situation, but we found a way to win and pull it out,” Barrett said.

Burks extended his hot streak with at least 20 points to five games. He had 21 for the night and added 10 rebounds, five assists, and two shot blocks.

Rose shot 6-for-15 and finished with 13 points in his first game since missing the Knicks’ last nine games.

Taj Gibson, who had a spot-start at power forward, tallied six points, eight boards, four assists, and four blocks in 34 minutes.

Noel stepped up with Robinson down again. He played 32 minutes and contributed six points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and three blocks.

Even rookie Obi Toppin and seldom-used Kevin Knox had their moments. They combined for 11 points off the bench.

“I love our team. I love our versatility,” Tom Thibodeau said afterward.

The whole team rose above the challenge.

“Obviously, they care about each other a lot. Mitch has been terrific to us. So you hate to see
it. It’s a very close-knit group. You have to feel for Mitchell because of all the work he’s put in,” Thibodeau said.

“It’s tough. It’s tough for him. He worked so hard to get back and to see him go down again. It hurts us,” Barrett said. “It hurts the team, but you know, we’ll be with him in every step of the way until he gets back.”

Rose, who survived many serious injuries throughout his career, was devastated and commiserated with Robinson.

“It sucks. Especially the more I got to know him,” Rose said. “For someone like him, seeing how hard he worked to get back and for this to happen just sucks.”

Robinson will be re-evaluated upon their return to New York. But one thing is certain: he’ll be out again for an extended time.

The Knicks will also re-evaluate their options. They have an open roster spot. The timing of Robinson’s injury came on the heels of a report they are no longer interested in pursuing Andre Drummond.

The former two-time All-Star center and four-time league-leading rebounder and the Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to buyout terms.

Defending champion Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly the frontrunner to sign him.

The Memphis Grizzlies also recently waived another former Thibodeau player, Gorgui Dieng.

John Henson and Norvell Pelle, who had a brief stint with the Brooklyn Nets this season, are also available. Both were on the Knicks’ radar when Robinson went down with a broken hand.

The Knicks have a huge decision to make as they enter a critical period in their playoff push. After the Miami Heat on Monday, the Knicks will have 14 games in April featuring teams in contention for the play-in tournament and the playoffs.

The Knicks survived Robinson’s first extended absence with a 9-6 record. There’s no guarantee they can weather a second storm.

“You feel for a teammate, but it’s part of the game. So you have to deal with it as best as you can,” Thibodeau said.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks’ Derrick Rose clears NBA protocols, shares COVID-19 battle

The New York Knicks announced on Monday that Derrick Rose has already been cleared from the league’s health and safety protocols after three weeks and eight-game absence.

Rose then proceeded to address the elephant in the room.

“Oh man, I was away because I actually had [COVID-19] it. I felt all the symptoms, sick and everything, but I’m happy to be back, and that’s in the past,” Rose told reporters in his first public interview since contracting the virus.

Rose and his whole family, along with the mother of his girlfriend, got infected. He quarantined with them in their home until getting the clearance to rejoin the team in their last two games, watching from the sidelines in street clothes.

“You know it sucked, but I was just with my family. My girl, my kids, her mom, all of us had it, so we were in the house for 10-14 days taking the test and, of course, taking all the meds and everything. I was with my family, and that’s the best thing about it, but like I said, it’s in the past. Thank God, I don’t have to worry about that anymore,” Rose said of the ordeal.

Rose revealed he tested positive for the virus the day after getting inconclusive results before the Knicks game in San Antonio last March. He was thankful his kids didn’t feel worse than he did.

“It just sucks, man! You feel every pain— the body is sore, headaches and all that. The kids weren’t too bad. They had fevers and running noses, and that was pretty much it and a bad cough. But it’s real, the COVID thing. I know a lot of people overlook it, but it’s very serious. It’s real,” Rose said.

He described COVID-19 as 10 times the regular flu.

“It’s completely different. I mean, they say everybody is different, but for me, I’ve never felt anything like that before. I’ve had the flu. It wasn’t any like the flu. My sense, the flu, your stomach or like your joints and everything gives you bad [feeling] times 10. Like I said, slowly, I’m getting back. I’m progressing every day and just trying to get back in the swing of things,” Rose said.

While he was already cleared by the league, New York coach Tom Thibodeau was non-committal on the former MVP’s exact return on the court. The Knicks will play the Washington Wizards at home on Tuesday and Thursday.

“He has to go through conditioning, and once he’s ready to go, we’ll move forward with it. But he’s been out for a while now, and we’re just starting to ramp it up again, and we’ll see how it goes,” Thibodeau said.

Acquired from Detroit this season, Rose immediately made an impact on the Knicks teaming up with rookie spitfire Immanuel Quickley off the bench and later on started when Elfrid Payton went down with an injury. The Knicks have struggled without him, losing five of the eight games he missed. The Knicks were 7-3 with Rose in the lineup. He is averaging 12.5 points, 4.9 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.1 steals with shooting splits of 43/46/83 for the Knicks this season.

“It sucks, especially when you get traded and I had the chance to play again,” Rose said. “The game has just been taken away from me for something like that. Getting back and playing in rhythm and trying to get myself back to where I was, it’s gonna take some time, but every day I am getting the most out of my days, so that’s all I can do.”

Rose is just happy to be out of quarantine and be back on the court practicing with the team. Besides dealing with the COVID-19, Rose also grieved the death of a close friend Langston Hampton– the younger brother of his best friend and personal assistant Randall Hampton, Empire Sports Media has learned from a source with knowledge of the situation.

“My appreciation for the game and while I was going through quarantine, I tried to take all the information and try to better myself,” Rose said. “I couldn’t exercise. I couldn’t do anything but just be around my family and read. Just leaving the house, it’s something we take for granted. Just breathing. Just everything. I went through a lot in quarantine. I’m just thankful, very thankful.”

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks could be gaining back essential piece against 76ers on Sunday

New York Knicks, NYK

After losing two consecutive games to the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, the New York Knicks walked away with a last-second victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday evening.

Nearly beating two playoff-caliber teams was a positive step for the Knicks, but they almost blew it against the Magic, as forward Reggie Bullock turned the ball over on the final possession, giving Orlando one last opportunity to steal a win. Thankfully, Bullock redeemed himself, creating a turnover and solidifying the victory for New York, which should’ve been an easy one considering Orlando is 13-27 on the year.

The Knicks have been utilizing their backup point guards primarily with Derrick Rose and Elfrid Payton missing time. Frank Ntilikina earned the start against Orlando, posting 13 points and one assist over 27 minutes. They were also without Immanuel Quickley, so the Knicks had to get a bit creative with their lineup on Thursday.

However, reinforcements are on the way, as Rose will likely make a return on Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

According to SNY’s Ian Begley, Derrick Rose could be available to start against the 76ers on Sunday.

If Rose has finished his isolation, he should be back on the court Sunday against the 76ers, pending the approval by a team and league physician.

Rose made his return to MSG on Thursday, watching the game from the bench. He remains out due to health and safety protocols and considering he was in the building, it suggests he could be close to a return. Having been out since March 2, he has missed several games, which started due to an inconclusive COVID-19 test. He posted several consecutive negative results, but the league hasn’t approved his return to the court just yet.

Rose was a stellar acquisition for the Knicks, as an old friend of head coach Tom Thibodeau. This season, he’s averaging 12.5 points, 4.9 assists, and a career-high .875 free-throw percentage with New York.

Gaining him back will be essential as the Knicks look to make a playoff push after the All-Star break. Their upcoming opponents include Philadelphia, two consecutive games against Washington, and then the Milwaukee Bucks. A tough stretch of games, but the Knicks have proved they are capable of competing at a high-level.

Knicks News: Derrick Rose return in question, Mitchell Robinson injury update

New York Knicks, Derrick Rose

The New York Knicks are set to take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday evening, which should present a significant challenge. Milwaukee is coming off six wins over seven games, so they will be no easy contest for New York, who will be without starting point guard Derrick Rose, and his return is still up in the air for the remainder of this week.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau was skeptical that Rose would make a return within the next few days, but he’s confident that their youth can get the job done in the meantime. The league mandates that a player must be out for 10 days and then work out for an additional two days before returning from positive Covid tests. Luckily for Rose, the All-Star break gave him a good cushion to work off of, but he still has a bit more time to waste until he can make an official return.

“To be honest I can’t answer that because I don’t know,’’ Thibodeau said when asked if Rose would be returning to the team soon. “I’m following what Dr. [Lisa] Callahan and what the league says. Once there’s clearance he’ll be available. When we get updated, we’ll update you guys. You’ve seen it throughout the league how it’s been handled. We know it’s serious it is with COVID and we want to take every safety precaution we can.’’

How is Mitchell Robinson’s rehab coming along?

The Knicks expected starting Center Mitchell Robinson to be out for quite some time after fracturing his hand several weeks ago. It seemed as if he was making solid progress but is still ways away from a return. In his absence, Nerlens Noel has stepped up in a big way, averaging 4.9 points, 2.0 blocks, and 6.1 rebounds over 22.2 minutes. His defense has been the catalyst for New York at times but doesn’t offer much on offense.

“There’s still no set timetable,’’ Thibodeau said. “He’s starting to do more. We’re probably a little ways away. But the conditioning, he’s been very diligent in putting extra work in. so his conditioning is pretty good. The basketball part, he hasn’t been able to scrimmage or anything like that. But he’s handling the ball with his left hand and doing a lot of running. We just have to be patient and let it run it’s course.’’

Luckily, Robinson will make a return at some point this year, and hopefully, the Knicks are in a spot to make a playoff push. Getting back one of their essential pieces will hopefully be a major boost, and we can only hope his rehabilitation goes well.

All-Star send-off: Randle powers Knicks over .500 after Pistons rout

Julius Randle put on a show at The Garden before heading to Atlanta for his first NBA All-Star game.

Randle’s near triple-double powered the New York Knicks to their first winning record at the All-Star break in eight years.

The Knicks improved to 19-18, sitting at fifth place in the Eastern Conference after a wire-to-wire 114-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday.

This marks the first time the Knicks are above .500 this late in the season since they were the Eastern Conference’s second seed at the All-Star break in 2013, the last time they reached the playoffs.

After a disappointing road loss in San Antonio two nights ago, the Knicks vented their ire on the Eastern Conference-worst Pistons.

With Randle leading the way, the Knicks led from start to finish. The first-time All-Star already had a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) in the first half alone as the Knicks sat on a 13-point halftime lead, 59-46.

New York extended the lead to 19, heading into the fourth quarter. The undermanned Pistons put up a token resistance in the final period cutting the lead to nine, but RJ Barrett quickly restored a double-digit lead with a three-pointer.

Randle bullied his way to 27 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists, becoming the first player in Knicks history to have 800 points, 400 rebounds, and 200 assists at the All-Star break, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Aside from that milestone, the 26-year old forward also recorded his 10th game with at least 25 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, the second-most in franchise history. He needs five more to tie the franchise record held by Bob McAdoo, which he did during the 1977-78 season.

“We’re growing as a team, growing as a unit,’’ Randle told Rebecca Haarlow after the game. “We got to go into the break and stay ready because the second half will be a beast. The first half was great for us, but we know we can keep improving and get better as a team, and we will.’’

The Knicks took care of business in the first half of the season, winning 12 games against losing teams and scoring victories against some playoff-caliber teams. They routed Golden State and Boston on the road and Milwaukee at home while beating Indiana twice.

But it will get tougher after the All-Star break.

The Knicks will play 26 of their last 35 games against playoff-contending teams, starting with a tough road trip in Milwaukee next Thursday followed by visits in Oklahoma, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia.

But before they get tested, this night was all about the Knicks punctuating a terrific first half of the season, which pundits never saw coming.

The Knicks’ turnaround wasn’t only about Randle. Collectively, this team emerged from the long years of dysfunction and incompetence.

They learned to play for each other under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau. Thursday night’s encore against the Pistons was another testament to that.

Derrick Rose missed his second straight game due to COVID-19 health and protocols, but Elfrid Payton returned to the starting unit with aplomb.

Payton directed the Knicks’ offense which became stagnant in their 119-93 loss to the Spurs earlier. He was active on both ends of the floor, collecting 20 points, six rebounds, four assists, four steals, and a block in a complete performance. Payton tied Reggie Bullock, who had 12 markers, for the night’s highest net rating with +17.

All five starters finished in double figures, with Barrett scoring 21 points on 9-of-13 shots. The Canadian swingman, chosen as one of the Rising Stars for the second straight year, added four boards and five dimes.

Nerlens Noel continued to provide a defensive spark with Mitchell Robinson (fractured hand) and Taj Gibson (ankle injury) still sidelined. He stuffed the stats sheet with 12 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, four steals, and two blocks while shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from the field.

Dennis Smith, Jr. returned to New York for the first time since he got traded for Rose and scored 12 points in a starting role. Another ex-Knick, Wayne Ellington, who spent last season in New York, led the Pistons with 17 points.

It was a fitting send-off for Randle, who was selected and praised by one of the All-Star captains, Kevin Durant, also the leader of the championship-caliber team in Brooklyn, just across the borough.

Bannering Team Durant are starters Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, Bradley Beal, and Durant’s replacement Jayson Tatum.

Randle joins James Harden, Devin Booker, Zion Williamson, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and Donovan Mitchell as reserves.

Randle will also compete in the Skills Challenge while Knicks rookie Obi Toppin hopes to end his dull first half with a bang in the Slam Dunk competition as a springboard to the second half of the season.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Knicks: Could extension be in Derrick Rose’s future?

New York Knicks, Derrick Rose

It is no secret that New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau and veteran point guard Derrick Rose have a very close relationship. Ever since Rose was acquired by the Knicks several weeks ago, the team has been on a tear, dominating lesser opposition and competing against some quality teams. However, the Knicks got a dose of what life without Rose looks like, being absolutely thrashed by the San Antonio Spurs, losing 119-93.

Since taking his talents to the city that never sleeps, Rose has averaged 12.5 points, 4.9 assists, and 2.6 total rebounds. Subsequently, Rose is averaging less points with the Knicks than he was with Detroit over the first 15 games of the season, but that could simply be a result of systematic changes. Rose has taken on a leadership role, helping mentor rookie Immanuel Quickley and spreading the ball around the floor with his impeccable vision.

In his 13th year as a professional, Rose understands that basketball is simple, and he’s just relying on his natural instincts to help contribute moving forward.

“It’s not hard,’’ Rose said serval days ago. “It’s basketball. It’s still basketball, bro. Giving guys the ball where they want the ball. Thibs will put us in a great spot to be prepared in certain situations and my job is just to push the ball, so just applying pressure whenever I can and just play my game. I don’t think I have to overthink it. I’ve been a starter the majority of my career. So it shouldn’t be too hard.’’

Derrick has realized an influx in energy, thanks to the youthful Knicks. It almost seems like he feels there’s something to play for again, not just the remainder of his career on a stumbling Detroit team. Thibodeau is building something special, and the results after just 36 games are encouraging.

“I had the team on my back for numerous years. I went through all of that. Now, I have the luxury of playing with young energy. They bring more life to me whenever I’m on the floor.”

Should the New York Knicks extend Rose?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Knicks offered Rose an extension for the 2022 season. His influence this year is obvious, and utilizing him with Quickley on the floor simultaneously has proven to be effective.

Elfrid Payton is currently on a one-year, $5 million deal, so I anticipate the Knicks letting him walk after the season concludes. Rose, on the other hand, is earning $7.68 million for the current season but would likely take a price-cut to stick with NY and help them build a solid foundation.

New York has plenty of draft capital and cap space to acquire a star player, and Rose can still be an impact option off the bench. In fact, having him as a rotational piece would be ideal, a player with superior court vision and the ability to still score adequately. I fully anticipate the Knicks trying to retain him for next year.

Knicks fall to Spurs as Rose enters COVID-19 protocols

A last-minute shelving of Derrick Rose and a last-second three by Patty Mills in the first half doomed the New York Knicks in San Antonio.

The Knicks went back to .500 after a lethargic 119-93 loss at the hands of the Spurs Tuesday night in their penultimate game before the All-Star break.

Late scratch

Already without their starting point guard Elfrid Payton (sore hamstring), Mitchell Robinson (broken hand), and Taj Gibson (ankle injury), the Knicks were hit with another setback.

Rose entered the league’s health and safety protocols just an hour before tip-off that threw the Knicks off their rhythm.

With Rose and Payton out, fourth-stringer Frank Ntilikina, who has only played seven games before facing the Spurs, made his first start of the season.

Ntilikina did an admirable job finishing with 13 points in 25 minutes but failed to register a single assist.

Out of rhythm

The Knicks’ starting unit got buried at the start of the first and third quarters, which hastened their downfall.

Reggie Bullock only had three attempts after averaging eight in their last three wins with Rose at the helm. Nerlens Noel was brilliant on defense but could not handle the ball on offense.

Julius Randle and RJ Barrett had an additional burden of playmaking on top of shotmaking. It didn’t work as they failed to keep up with the Spurs’ more cohesive lineup.

Immanuel Quickley, Kevin Knox, and Obi Toppin knocked down a three-pointer each that brought the Knicks within two, 25-23, in the opening period.

‘You get what you deserve’

It was a tight game from there until the Spurs caught the Knicks’ defense napping right before the halftime buzzer. Mills drilled a well-executed corner three-pointer that gave San Antonio a four-point halftime lead and the momentum.

The Spurs got it going in the third quarter, with Mills hitting three of the Spurs’ seven triples that broke the game wide open. San Antonio outscored New York, 37-21, in that pivotal quarter. The Knicks never knew what hit them.

“Obviously, we didn’t play our best. When you’re on the road, you have to play well for 48 minutes. We didn’t do that. [We] didn’t close out the second quarter well. We didn’t start the third (quarter) well,” Tom Thibodeau said after the rout. “You get what you deserve.”

The Knicks deserved to lose the game as they let the Spurs shot 48.3 percent from the field and 18-of-32 from the outside. They were thoroughly outplayed, with the Spurs issuing 31 assists against the Knicks’ 18.

Reality check

Their top-two defense was nowhere to be found as they looked more tired than the Spurs, who were coming off an overtime loss to Brooklyn last Monday night.

The loss should serve as a reality check for the Knicks, who will face more tough teams like the Spurs after the All-Star break. They will play 26 of their 35 games against playoff-caliber teams in the second half of the season.

The Knicks didn’t specify if Rose tested positive for COVID-19 or he was only under contact tracing. But either way, the Knicks will have to play out their last game in the first half without him.

Ntilikina over Quickley

Ntilikina will likely remain as the starter in their rematch against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday.

“I was just trying to keep the second unit together as much as I could. And the size of their point guard also factored in as they have a very good offensive rebounding guard,” said Thibodeau explaining his decision to start Ntilikina.

The 6-foot-4 Dejounte Murray scattered 17 points, six rebounds, six assists, and three steals, while Kentucky product Trey Lyles, who started for LaMarcus Aldridge (stomach ailment), had a season-high 18 points with four triples for the Spurs.

Immanuel Quickley paced the Knicks with 26 points, his fifth 25-plus scoring in the season, which leads all rookies. He hit six three-pointers and added four rebounds and four assists off the bench.

Both Randle and Barrett sat out the entire fourth quarter. Randle wound up with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists, while Barrett scored 15 on another efficient night, going 5-for-9 from the field.

The loss snapped the Knicks’ three-game winning streak and shoved them down to the sixth spot in the East, just half-game ahead of the Miami Heat.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Motown Beatdown: Knicks seize solo fourth after routing Pistons

There was no redemption game for Dennis Smith Jr. Only a painful reminder of what he’s missing after he got traded.

The New York Knicks shackled Smith and his new team, Detroit Pistons, 109-90, Sunday night at Little Caesar’s Arena, to move up to solo fourth in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks (18-17) are off to their best start since going 23-12 after their first 35 games in their 54-win campaign in the 2012-13 season. That also marked the last time they made the playoffs.

The Knicks are starting to look like a playoff team. They’re doing it the old-fashioned way, relying on their top-three defense that has now improved to the top two after this win.

Smith came into this game coming off his best performance of the season and shooting 53 percent from the field in his last three games. But the Knicks mercilessly showed why he became dispensable.

Smith, the Pistons’ new lead guard, rammed into the Knicks’ defensive wall and was held to just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting. The Pistons’ offense never got to hit the ground running as they shot an atrocious 38.4 percent from the field.

On the flipside, Derrick Rose, whom the Knicks acquired in exchange for Smith, continued to make an impact. New York is now 3-0 since Rose was inserted into the starting lineup.

“I think the first unit has really found good chemistry together. They’re reading the game well. They’re feeding off each other. They’re playing very unselfishly and are tied together on both ends of the floor,” Tom Thibodeau said.

Rose had 14 points and five assists, while Julius Randle overwhelmed the Pistons frontcourt with 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting. The Knicks’ All-Star added eight rebounds, six assists, two steals, and one block in another masterclass.

RJ Barrett also imposed his will. The sophomore swingman has collected his second straight 20-plus point game, dropping 25 points on efficient 8-of-13 shooting. He added five rebounds and three assists.

Nerlens Noel, the only remaining true center in the Knicks’ lineup, continued to hold the fort. He was all over the court (8 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, and three blocks). The Knicks even grabbed more defensive rebounds than the Pistons, 35-33.

Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley combined for 28 points off the bench.

Despite missing several key players — Elfrid Payton (sore right hamstring), Mitchell Robinson (broken right hand), and Taj Gibson (left ankle sprain) — the Knicks were no match to the Pistons.

After Jerami Grant opened the game with a triple, the Knicks took control then blow them out after the halftime break.

With only two games left, the Knicks have a shot of going to the All-Star break with a winning record.

They will try to move two games above .500 against San Antonio Spurs on the road on Tuesday before winding up their first-half schedule with a rematch against the Pistons at home on Thursday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo