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Derrick Rose Is Back, but Also Not Really Back

The beleaguered point guard returned to Cavs practice, but his battle with injuries is far from over

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Derrick Rose is perpetually on a path to recovery. Rose, who had been away from the Cleveland Cavaliers since late November as a result of a self-imposed leave of absence, disclosed Friday that he has a bone spur in his left ankle and could be out even longer. Rose said he is rehabbing the injury, and did not rule out eventual surgery.

The announcement came one day after Rose rejoined his teammates for practice in Cleveland. The 29-year-old left the Cavaliers on November 22 to consider his future amid frustrations over a career so frequently spent on the sidelines, according to an ESPN report.

Rose’s battle with injuries has now spanned more than half a decade. After being named MVP in 2011, Rose played in only 49 games over the following three seasons, and missed the 2012-13 season entirely. He played in no more than 66 games in his next three seasons, which included a one-season stint with the New York Knicks (during which time a woman also accused Rose of rape in a civil suit; a jury later found the claim to be not credible). Rose then signed with Cleveland this past July for the veteran’s minimum in the hopes of having a career resurgence next to LeBron James, the player he once battled for Eastern Conference supremacy. Rose, thanks to James’s backing, even earned a starting job with the Cavs.

Then the season started. The 29-year-old has played in seven games for the Cavs, with the team going 4-3, and posted career-low averages of 14.3 points and 1.7 assists. Meanwhile, Cleveland is on a 13-game win streak, has soared to second place in the Eastern Conference with an 18-7 record, and is getting ever closer to Isaiah Thomas’s expected return date.

All of which leaves Rose without much of a place on the team. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue told the media that Rose “didn’t have to” apologize when he returned to practice Wednesday, “but he did.”

"He asked me could he talk to the team before we started shootaround,” Lue said, “and addressed the team. Everyone welcomed him back and is happy he is here, and that's it."

Considering all that still stands between him and returning to the court, a warm welcome back may be as good as it gets.