Knicks point guard Derrick Rose will miss his second straight game Thursday because of COVID-19 issues despite being with his teammates on their four-hour flight home from San Antonio.
The Knicks announced Rose is still in COVID-19 protocol but would not clarify why.
Rose’s test before the Spurs game reportedly was deemed inconclusive. But with Rose barred from playing a second straight game, it’s also possible the San Antonio test was a false positive — which has slightly stricter protocols.
It was reported Rose just needed to have another negative test Thursday to be cleared for the Pistons game, based on his inconclusive test. The Knicks would not say if Rose tested positive Thursday or explain why no other Knicks are regarded as a candidate for COVID-19 protocols.
“He’s just following the protocols set forth by the league,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So once we get clearance and we know how important safety is for everyone. So whatever they’re telling us to do, that’s what we’re doing. I know we’ve taken every precaution as a team. We have Dr. [Lisa] Callahan leading the charge for us and she’s in communication with the league. So whatever they’re telling us we have to do, that’s what we’ll do.’’
The good news is the Knicks finally got back starting point guard Elfrid Payton, who missed the previous four games with a hamstring strain.
The Knicks are deep at the point guard position and have been able to withstand the injury to Payton as Rose stepped in as the starter before the San Antonio loss. Frank Ntilikina was the starter in San Antonio but returned to the bench with Payton starting.
“You go into a game whether injury or COVID-related, you need everyone,’’ Thibodeau said. “That’s why it’s important to have quality depth and versatility where guys can play multiple positions and are interchangeable. We’re seeing it as more of a position-less league. When you get the opportunity, go in there and get the job done. I have a lot of confidence in our guys.’’
Knicks rookie power forward Obi Toppin will take it as motivation that he wasn’t on Wednesday’s Rising Stars Challenge roster. The game won’t be played but he knows it would be an honor to be on the list. Neither was rookie Immanuel Quickley, who was more deserving. Toppin will have to settle for being named to the dunk contest.
“I’m not upset at it at all,’’ Toppin said. “God has his ways and it’s just another thing that we look at, and we work hard every single day just because of reasons like that. Me and Quick, we know we have to stay in the gym to get better every single day.’’
The Knicks won’t play at the Garden again until March 18 vs. Orlando. They begin the second half on a four-game road trip.