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Derrick Rose has played 10 games for the Knicks this season. He missed his eighth straight game Sunday night versus the Sixers.
The 32-year-old point guard hasn’t played in March — out due to the fancy new sports term: “health and safety protocols.”
Finally back with the Knicks on Thursday, Rose put up shots two hours before tipoff, then wore professorial spectacles as he sat on the bench in a white dress shirt for Thursday’s win over Orlando.
Under NBA COVID-19 protocols, Rose has enough negative tests to allow him to be with the team.
According to NBA sources, Rose is in the final stages before being cleared — needing to pass a series of workouts to make sure it’s safe for him to play.
Last week, Thibodeau said Rose was “feeling a lot better.”
The Knicks, under HIPAA laws, are not permitted to confirm Rose was out for a positive test. But Thibodeau’s remark the other day suggested Rose may have had symptoms.
And that is where this pandemic season still remains scary and unpredictable. Scientists still don’t know COVID-19’s long-term effect on professional athletes.
Dr. Marc Sala, pulmonary specialist for Northwestern University and its COVID-19 expert, told The Post a pro athlete can still experience symptoms even after testing negative for months — let alone weeks.
Rose last played Feb. 28 in Detroit. He was ruled out of the March 2 San Antonio game because of an inconclusive test.
“I have had people who had previously been marathon runners and highly physically functioning patients like an athlete who still — 12 months later — have symptoms,” Dr. Sala said. “Breathlessness, inability to get back to running.”
It is a virus we’ve never seen.
“Even after the acute viral infection is over, they can have very protracted symptoms even after the virus is gone,” Sala said. “We don’t know why and it’s a huge area of study right now.”
In the case of NBA players such as Rose, Sala said the precautionary tests are done to monitor whether there’s been any heart inflammation.
According to Sala, the virus “afflicts the heart, lungs, brain and kidney.” Rose likely has undergone electrocardiograms and echocardiograms.
“If the heart is inflamed, activity on the heart is dangerous,” Sala said. “You are conservative as far as exerting yourself.”
Some Knicks fans are getting impatient, wondering why a Rose return is taking this long — as if he’s dealing with a sprained right ankle.
Erroneous social media chatter had Rose in Chicago at a funeral for a friend. Thus, the rumor was he stayed away from the team due to protocols. Others have pointed out he went AWOL like during his first Knicks stint in 2016-17.
All, of course, blatantly false. Rose has been in New York since flying back with the team from San Antonio when the team thought he’d be playing the next game. All Rose needed was more negative tests.
But this is a season like no other and Rose still is out. Somehow the Knicks have survived their point guard shortage that also has seen Elfrid Payton (hamstring), Immanuel Quickley (ankle) and Austin Rivers (paternity leave) missing.
“It’s extremely tough,” said Julius Randle, who has played in all 42 games. “But like we said all year, next man up. That’s what we’re thinking. So the next guy stepping up — guys have done good stepping up in that role. Whatever we can do to get the win regardless of the challenges we’re facing.”
The Knicks are 3-4 since Rose stopped playing because of COVID-19 issues. In his 10 games with the club, the Knicks are 7-3.
The Knicks are at their finest with Payton as starting point guard and Rose and Quickley as a backup backcourt tandem.
Payton and Quickley appear on the verge of a return. So does Rose.
Mitchell Robinson, out the last 15 games with a broken hand, had a shot to return Sunday night.
“It’s going to be a huge difference,” Randle said. “We’re going to get rolling once guys get back in the lineup and get healthy and we have a full team. It’s going to be great.”
But as we all know, the still-mysterious virus means the only sure thing is there’s no sure thing. And we can only wish Rose the best of luck.
“We have no idea what the long-term effects of COVID-19 are on anyone — let alone on athletes who previously had amazing reserve and function,” Sala said.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Marc Berman