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Derrick Rose leaves Cavaliers to handle "personal matter"

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

By TOM WITHERS

AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) Derrick Rose's injuries may have pushed him to a breaking point.

The former league MVP, who has been trying to revive his career with the Cavaliers, left the team earlier this week to handle a personal matter. A team spokesman said Friday that Rose has been excused since Wednesday and there is no timetable for his return.

The team did not offer any other details about Rose's absence.

ESPN reported that Rose is taking personal time "to evaluate his future in the NBA." A team source told ESPN that Rose's numerous injuries are "taking a toll on him mentally."

Rose's agent, B.J. Armstrong, did not immediately return messages from the AP seeking comment.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue expects Rose to return to the team.

"We want him to take his time. Just know the team, the coaches, the organization, we all have his back and wish him well," Lue said before the Cavs beat the Charlotte Hornets for their seventh straight win. "We expect to have him back. I reached out to him and texted him and told him that we support him. We know he's going through a tough time right now."

LeBron James hasn't talked to Rose but wants what's best for the nine-year veteran.

"At the end of the day you can't substitute nothing for happiness," James said. "With the injuries that he's gone through his whole career, we hope this ain't the end but if it is, I was happy I got an opportunity to spend a couple of months with him and watch him be the great point guard that he once was. No matter if he comes back, no matter if he doesn't, we want him to be happy with whatever decision he makes."

Rose has played in just seven of Cleveland's 18 games this season because of a left ankle injury the point guard sustained while driving to the basket on Oct. 20 in Milwaukee. He's averaging 14.3 points in his first season with Cleveland.

Rose's career has been slowed by knee injuries, which have required surgeries. He sat out the entire 2012-13 season in Chicago and played only 10 games the following year due to injury.

The medical issues have taken an understandable toll on Rose.

"He has been through injury after injury for the last few years," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. "When you've played at an MVP level like he has, I'm sure that's hard to take. Listen, he's still playing at a high level. I think he averaged 18 points last year with New York and was playing well when he got hurt this month. They always say the toughest thing for the great ones is when you lose a step."

The 29-year-old Rose had been excited about a new start with Cleveland after spending last season with the New York Knicks. He signed a one-year, $2.1 million free agent contract this summer with the Cavs and was expected to be the team's backup point guard behind Isaiah Thomas.

However, Thomas is still recovering from a hip injury sustained last season with Boston, and Rose was thrust into a starting role.

Rose dropped some weight to pressure off his knee joints, and showed flashes of his former self before getting hurt. The ankle had been bothering him for nearly a month when Lue announced last week that Rose would be sidelined for "at least" two more weeks.

Rose had been wearing a walking boot and undergoing treatment on his ankle.

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Updated November 25, 2017

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