The 6-foot-7 Rose, in his fourth year, has spent much of his time with the San Antonio Spurs playing backup power forward behind Tim Duncan. With Elliott out indefinitely after a kidney transplant, Rose is working on moving into the starting small forward position.
"No matter who gets the spot, it's only there until Sean comes back, so I just want to baby-sit it for a little while," Rose said at Spurs training camp Monday.
Elliott received a kidney from his brother in transplant surgery Aug. 16. He plans to return to for the Spurs, perhaps as soon as later this season.
Such a comeback after a kidney transplant would be unprecedented in professional sports, but doctors have not ruled it out. The 31-year-old Elliott suffered from focal glomerulosclerosis, a condition that prevents the kidneys from properly filtering waste from the blood.
After the Spurs defeated New York in the NBA Finals, Rose spent the offseason working on his perimeter game, losing weight and getting pointers from Elliott, coach Gregg Popovich and others on the keys to playing small forward.
"I feel I'm playing pretty well in the position, being as though it's new to me," Rose said. "I had a lot of help as far as getting tutored at that position, and I think it's showing."
Popovich said he hasn't decided who will start in place of Elliott. Initially, it may be determined by opponent matchups.
The Spurs also have new arrivals Chucky Brown and Samaki Walker and returning veteran Jaren Jackson under consideration.
Walker, a former Dallas Maverick who signed with the Spurs in August, said he believes he can make the switch from power forward to small forward if necessary.
"I'm confident that I can do that," Walker said. "It's going to take a lot of hard work and drills and just coming out here and competing. I think I can definitely make the transition."
Mario Elie played forward in Houston but said he feels more comfortable as a guard.
"As soon as I heard Sean was down, I said I'm not playing the three-spot," Elie said. "I'm going to play probably spot minutes.
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