Derrick Rose undergoes 'uncomplicated' left knee surgery, his fourth since 2012

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4387/" data-ylk="slk:Derrick Rose">Derrick Rose</a>, nearly at the end of the line. (Getty Images)
Derrick Rose, nearly at the end of the line. (Getty Images)

Derrick Rose had another surgery on Wednesday, the fourth on his knees since the then-Chicago Bulls guard tore his left ACL in a playoff game in 2012. The current New York Knicks guard and impending free agent tore his left meniscus last week and was declared out for what was already a lost season for the lottery-bound Knicks. Rose averaged 18 points and 4.4 assists in 32 minutes a game in his first season with the team.

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The franchise’s Twitter account first relayed the news about the “uncomplicated” surgery:

(“Uncomplicated Surgery,” Emerson, Lake & Palmer tribute band or Dr. Harold Bornstein’s signature operation?)

The three-to-six week window for recovery would seem to suggest that doctors decided to trim Rose’s left meniscus. A “partial removal,” much in the same way they did for his right one during the 2014-15 season. That procedure usually sticks as a last-resort approach, with the re-attachment option typically resulting in a longer stretch of rehabilitation time, followed by a better chance at approximating one’s prior athletic gifts, pre-tear.

According to longtime Chicago Tribune Bulls beat writer K.C. Johnson, Rose’s surgery was performed by Chicago Bulls team physician Dr. Brian Cole, who worked on the 2010-11 NBA MVP during his star-crossed run in Chicago: Rose played in just 139 of an available 362 games for the Bulls between his left ACL tear in 2012, and the trade that sent him to New York in the summer of 2016.

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His gait, spring, speed and overall on-court countenance appears to have been severely affected by both the initial left ACL tear, and the pair of surgeries on his right knee. Players can recover fully from ACL tears after a stretch of time, which Rose certainly (and understandably) gave himself in taking the entire 2012-13 season off following the ACL tear. It’s the meniscus tears, for many NBA athletes, that really deaden the legs.

Rose will not only have a meniscus tear in each knee to work through, starting in 2017-18, but the likely possibility that he is working on trimmed cartilage (that “partial removal”) in the first place, as opposed to a repaired meniscus in each knee. For just about any player, regardless of stature or setting, this would be more than enough to consider calling it a career.

This is the same guy that left the Knicks midseason, without warning, in order to attend to a personal matter at home in Chicago. And yet, with a free agent deal on the line in 2018, Rose and his representatives have decided to forego the repair option on what may have been diagnosed as an irreparable left meniscus in order to be healthy for the NBA’s free agency period, which starts in July.

If that seems incongruous, and further muddied by Rose’s insistence on joylessly discussing his eventual 2017 free agent contract in 2015, followed by the semi-danceable retirement-to-max money talk from earlier in 2016-17, then get a load of what the New York Knicks just did.

This is how Jeff Hornacek dealt with questions about Rose’s Knick future on Tuesday:

“We haven’t discussed that,’’ Hornacek said before the Knicks’ surprising 100-91 victory. “Derrick did a lot of good things for us this year, with the way he can break down the defense. As the season went on, he got more comfortable with the offense. It’s unfortunate he has to have another surgery. I’m sure he’ll come back strong from it. He worked hard last year in the summer to get his body in good shape. I’m sure he’ll do that again. We’ll take a look at it and see if we can bring him back.’’

That’s an interesting way of putting it, characterizing Hornacek and the Knicks as asking, “if we can bring him back” as opposed to deciding whether or not to make Rose a part of the Knicks moving forward. Starting with a free agent contract.

To many observers, observers that could include the Knicks, Rose asking for anything above the minimum salary and a role as that of a third or even fourth guard could prove prohibitive. This asking price would then allow the Knicks to conclude that Rose couldn’t be brought “back,” at the initial bargaining price as set by Rose’s representatives.

That asking price – considering Rose’s abilities to drive were offset by a Madison St. Madison Ave. mile by his horrendous defense and inability to spread the floor or make the creative pass – was probably too high for most other NBA teams prior to his injury – even while the acknowledgement that the Kings, Bulls, Magic and apparently, Knicks are still in the NBA.

That was before the 2016-17 season, essentially, gave his left knee the same bash it gave his right knee in late 2013 and again during 2014-15. On top of that ACL tear.

Rose has to figure out if that ACL tear was the note that began all, or if his priorities had shifted even when he was seemingly on top of his world. Derrick Rose was a question mark as an NBA-level basketball player – not a star or starter, an NBA-level basketball player – before he tore his left meniscus.

Now he’s been outfitted with an unprecedented series of knee concerns. The only one who ever had it this bad was Danny Manning, the Man Who Walked With Dead Man’s ACLs.

Left meniscus tears turned standout athletes like Anfernee Hardaway and Gilbert Arenas into statues during what should have been their NBA primes, and yet neither of them had to deal with meniscus tears in both knees. Alongside the ACL tear. Derrick Rose’s litany of maladies is more in line with the freak injuries suffered by Bobby Hurley and Jay Williams in automobile and motorcycle accidents, or the once-in-two-generations freak leg injury suffered in one play by Shaun Livingston back in 2007.

Somehow, Derrick Rose has done all this just in the course of a career’s work, in four separate instances. Somehow, Derrick Rose hasn’t even turned 29 yet.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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