INDIANAPOLIS — Derrick Rose says he has a bone spur in his left ankle and acknowledged that he might need to undergo a procedure to correct it should his rehabilitation program not take, the Cleveland Cavaliers guard revealed at shootaround Friday.
Speaking to the media for the first time since rejoining the Cavs earlier this week, Rose appeared in good spirits as the Cavs took the court to prepare for Friday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers.
“I would like to say thanks to the whole franchise — [GM] Koby [Altman], the front office, the players, the coaches, the coaching staff — I’d like to say thank you for allowing me my privacy to keep my right state of mind and to keep my happiness,” Rose said.
Rose said his top priority is to attack his rehab now that he’s back in the fold.
“I got to go through rehab with trying to get my ankle right,” Rose said. “I got a bone spur that I didn’t tell anybody, but I was just trying to process all that myself.”
“It’s all about first getting the area to calm down and then strengthening your leg back up again,” Rose said. “So, afterwards, we may have to have a procedure but who knows.”
Rose declined to answer how close he was to retirement during his nearly two-week absence from the Cavs, nor would he disclose his whereabouts during that time. He was adamant, however, that the reported $80 million remaining on his Adidas contract, which he was in jeopardy of losing should he have decided to walk away from the NBA for good, was not his motivating factor in his return.
“Man, I don’t care about — not to be rude — I don’t care about no f—ing money,” Rose said. “It’s not about that. I’ve saved up enough money. It’s not about that. If I wanted to leave, I would have left. Like I said, coming back here, starting with rehab that’s my first step. Keeping it simple and just giving my team support and then I’ll see what I see off the court.”
He also refuted a reporter who asked if he requested a trade during his absence. “No, no, no, no, no, no. Trade? No,” Rose said. “Come on, man. I’m on one of the best teams in the league? Why would I ask to get traded? They gave me every opportunity and still are going to give me every opportunity that I would want from any other team too and that’s just to hoop. I just want to hoop.”
Rose confirmed an ESPN report that he apologized to his teammates on Wednesday before shootaround and pledged to support the Cavs during his rehabilitation process.
“I was just figuring things out,” Rose said. “Thinking about this and that. But I’m here for my team. I’m here to win. And that’s one of the reasons why I came back.”
Rose has missed 18 of the Cavs’ 25 games this season — including the past 14 straight — because of a sprained ankle that he suffered on Oct. 20.
The 2011 NBA MVP said he kept track of the Cavs’ franchise record-tying 13-game win streak from afar.
“It was good,” Rose said. “It was good. That was the only thing that was keeping my mind clear, you know, that we were winning, playing good basketball and we got back on track.”
Whenever Rose does return, he will likely no longer have his spot as the Cavs’ starting point guard available to him. Injured guard Isaiah Thomas, out all season with a right hip injury, is expected to be back on the court by the end of December.
Rose says a potential role change does not concern him.
“Am I concerned? No, no,” he said. “Not at all. I’ll be able to hoop. That’s all I want to do: hoop and win. I don’t care about all the stuff that comes with it. I’m appreciative, I’m grateful to be on this team and like I said, just trying to take it one day at a time. Every rehab is very crucial. So I’m trying to attack all my rehab.”
Rose, averaging 14.3 points on 47.0 percent shooting, 2.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists in seven games with the Cavs this season, acknowledged the importance to building connections with his teammates now that he’s back.
“I mean, just being around them like now,” Rose said. “Going to functions, going to events whenever they throw them and just being a part of it. Just being one of the guys. It’s nothing hard. I’m not going to go out of my way, but at the same time, this is a team and I want to be a part of it.”
Shortly after speaking to reporters, Rose huddled with Altman, the Cavs’ general manager, who he credits for empathizing with his situation.
“He understood,” Rose said of Altman. “He understood. It’s hard, especially in my career; it was just hard getting guys to understand me especially in a front office position. He just understood me, listened to me and was just trying to figure things out.”
Rose also expressed further gratitude to his teammates.
“It’s all love,” Rose said. “It’s all love. It’s showing me coming here was one of the best decisions I made in my life, being around good guys that’s only focusing on basketball and trying to get better. I’ve been wanting that my entire career.”