CLEVELAND — Cavaliers guard Derrick Rose apologized to his teammates at shootaround on Wednesday for his recent absence and referenced frustration with his left ankle injury as the cause for his nearly two-week exile, a team source told ESPN.
Rose’s comments were brief and delivered to the team on the court before the Cavs beat the Sacramento Kings 101-95 for their 13th straight win, the source said.
Several of Rose’s teammates, LeBron James included, already had said publicly that Rose did not owe them an apology for the time he missed. However, the three-time All-Star took it upon himself to clear the air.
“He didn’t have to, but he did,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said of Rose’s message to the team. “He asked me could he talk to the team before we started shootaround and addressed the team. Everyone welcomed him back and is happy he is here, and that’s it.”
As the source added, “It wasn’t a big deal and didn’t need to be.”
Rose, who has missed 17 of the Cavs’ 27 games this season — including the past 13 straight — because of a sprained ankle that he suffered on Oct. 20, has no timetable for when he will return to the court, according to Lue.
“Just going through his rehab now, trying to get healthy,” Lue said. “It won’t be in the next few games or nothing like that, so just got to see how he takes to treatment.”
A Cavs spokesman said Rose would likely address the media for the first time since leaving the Cavs on Nov. 22 either on Friday in Indianapolis or Saturday in Cleveland, before the Cavaliers host the Philadelphia 76ers.
Lue said he was unaware if Rose kept up his ankle rehab on his own time while he was away from the team.
The 29-year-old former league MVP is averaging 14.3 points on 47.0 percent shooting, 2.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists in seven games — all of which he started — for the Cavs this season.
It is unclear what Rose’s role will be when he gets healthy again. The Cavs reeled off 12 straight wins (and counting) with Rose out of the lineup and settled into a rhythm with Jose Calderon as the starting point guard. Further complicating Rose’s return is the fact that Isaiah Thomas is expected to miss a maximum of three more weeks before he makes his season debut after being sidelined with a hip injury.
Lue said that the understated Rose was not particularly emotional when he spoke to the team.
“It was just good to have him back and hear him talk, because he’s not a big talker,” Lue said. “You know he’s a quiet guy. But just hearing what he had to say and then just seeing how everyone was welcoming him back and was happy he’s here.”
Rose will be at the Cavs’ game against the Kings on Wednesday night, and his teammates plan to check in with him individually when the opportunity presents itself in the coming days, according to a team source.