The Knicks were able to get by with their Plan D — and perhaps Plans E and F — at point guard Thursday night against the Magic, but they conceivably could be getting multiple reinforcements back for their next game.
Derrick Rose, and possibly rookie Immanuel Quickley, might return to the lineup against Ben Simmons and the first-place 76ers on Sunday night at the Garden.
Rose has missed the past seven games due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, but he was back on the court taking shots before Thursday’s game and on the bench during the Knicks’ 94-93 win over the Magic.
The 13-year veteran first sat out March 2 in San Antonio following what The Post reported was an inconclusive test, but he was permitted to fly back to New York with the team. The Knicks never confirmed whether Rose ever tested positive, although coach Tom Thibodeau said in Philadelphia on Tuesday that Rose was “feeling a lot better.”
Though the NBA evaluates reinstatement on a case-by-case basis, however, the league’s standard calls for 10 days of isolation away from the team and then two days of negative PCR tests and two days of workouts before clearance for a return to play is granted.
Rose conceivably could achieve that in practice Saturday following a team off-day. He also would need to be cleared by both the team’s medical staff and a league physician in order to play Sunday.
Quickley also sat out Thursday’s game with an ankle issue, but Thibodeau said his omission from the lineup was “precautionary,” indicating the Knicks don’t view it as a long-term problem.
Austin Rivers also remains away from the team for “personal reasons.” The veteran guard announced on his Instagram page Friday the birth of his son, Reign Rivers, with model Audreyana Michelle.
Starter Elfrid Payton also has been sidelined since March 11 with a strained hamstring, so Frank Ntilikina started at point guard against the Magic and scored 12 of his 13 points in the second half.
Ntilikina hadn’t scored in his previous four appearances, but he continues to help the Knicks on defense with at least one steal in each of his past five games.
“That’s love. Just having this group of guys, trying to fight on both ends of the court, they take this as a challenge,” Ntilikina said after Thursday’s game. “That’s the beauty of the game and I think it’s really important to be able to go where you want to go. Everybody’s involved on that side of the court, everybody’s trying to play together, just to get stops after stop. That’s just love.”
The Knicks also largely ran their offense through Randle, who recorded a career-best 17 assists as part of a triple-double, and combo guard Alec Burks. The latter started ahead of Reggie Bullock, whose steal with 5.9 seconds remaining sealed the one-point victory.
“It’s just how the game was going,” Randle said. “I was reading the game to get to my spots. And if they come and double or collapse, I was going to find my teammates, like I’ve tried to do all year.”
As the longest-tenured player on the roster, Ntilikina — the Knicks’ first-round pick under former team president Phil Jackson in 2017 — said there “definitely” has been a different feel around the team through its 21-21 start.
“First of all, the winning percentage, but everything from the start of the season, I felt, was different,” Ntilikina said. “Like Coach said earlier in the season, if you want to get where we want to go you have to pay a price. And that’s what we’re doing on a daily basis.
“We’re working every day to be the best team possible. … Just to compete and challenge. We’re also in sync. We have a great group of guys. We live together, we laugh together, we just compete together as a family. Going into every game with this group of guys, it’s just amazing.”
Originally published at https://nypost.com/2021/03/19/derrick-rose-immanuel-quickley-may-soon-return-soon-to-knicks/ on .