The New York Knicks have been putrid this season after making the playoffs last campaign for the first time since 2012-13. They are 22-24 and in 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings, and one of the main reasons they have struggled is because Derrick Rose has been out since December 18.

Rose underwent surgery on his right ankle at the Hospital for Special Surgery on December 22. According to Ian Begley of SNY, the one-time MVP had surgery to clean up a nagging issue in his ankle and avoid any future discomfort or flare-ups.

Before the Knicks lost to the New Orleans Pelicans on January 20, Rose was doing rehab work with trainers and didn’t have a walking boot or brace on, a sign that he could be closing to returning. That’s excellent news for the Knicks, who may not need to make a significant trade with their floor general almost back at the trade deadline.

Derrick Rose is most important Knicks player

If you look at his per-game numbers, you wouldn’t guess that Rose is the most important player on the Knicks. He averaged 12.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists while shooting 44.5% from the field, 40.2% from beyond the arc, and 96.8% from the free-throw line before deciding to get ankle surgery. Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Evan Fournier, and Kemba Walker all average more points than Rose.

However, Fred Katz, who covers the Knicks for The Athletic, explained why Rose is so vital to New York’s success: “Rose is in all of their best lineups. He organizes the offense. He’s turned himself into a knockdown shooter. He made 39 percent of his 3-point attempts last season and is a hair above 40 percent today. He’s a member of many closing units. The Knicks are 12.8 points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the floor.”

Rose had a plus-minus of +92 before going under the knife for the seventh time in his career. The three-time All-Star leads the Knicks in offensive box plus-minus and box plus-minus and is second in player efficiency rating despite being out since December.

The Knicks desperately need Rose back in the lineup to save their season as he did in 2020-21, and if the front office is confident he can be Superman again, they may not have to give away assets such as Obi Toppin, Mitchell Robinson, and Immanuel Quickley at the trade deadline.