Derrick Rose Playing USA Basketball Roulette


Jul 23

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LAS VEGAS—The NBA can take the kid out of you pretty fast.

Derrick Rose is learning that.
Rose, effectively, began his second year of NBA life here Thursday trying out for a spot on the USA Basketball team that will play in the World Championships in Turkey in 2010 and the 2012 Olympics in London.

“I wanted to be there (last year when the U.S. team won the 2008 gold medal), on that podium,” said Rose, who said he stayed up with his mom into the early morning hours watching the Olympics. “It makes you want to come out here and be a part of this. You are competing against the world. I wouldn’t care if I started or not. Just to be out here competing with these guys, hopefully I’ll do good and be selected. I’ll do anything they want me to do, sacrifice scoring whatever. I just want to be on the team.”

Rose had a good first day, his shot looking better after what he said were all day shooting sessions since the playoffs and running the break nicely in drills with buddy Kevin Durant, who stood out and seems a lock to be added to the team.

For Rose, it’s all about looking forward after a brilliant rookie season when he was named Rookie of the Year and an eye opening offseason when he apparently became part of an NCAA investigation of the University of Memphis, issued an apology for being seen making a gang sign, lost backcourt running mate Ben Gordon to free agency and the rival Detroit Pistons, and has had his Bulls mentioned in trade talk for Carlos Boozer and perhaps next summer free agency regarding fellow Chicagoan Dwyane Wade.

Rose said he’s spent much of the summer doing promotional work for Adidas and will go to China for a week in August for the shoe company. Rose was at the ESPY awards, where he lost out to Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for Best Newcomer and has spent considerable time working out and practicing in Los Angeles.

Rose addressed the summer issues for the first time before the first mini-camp tryouts Thursday at Valley High School.

— On Ben Gordon: “I haven’t had a chance to talk to Ben. It hurt a little bit. In high school and college you were used to playing with someone for a couple of years. In the NBA, things change. You’re not going to play with the same people every year. I guess it’s just something I’m going to have to get used to.

“We’ll miss a player like Ben,” said Rose. “He’s a great player who likes to win. But we’ve just got to keep it moving. We’ve still got Kirk Hinrich, John Salmons, Lu (Deng). We just have to play harder next year. I was kind of surprised (when Ben signed with Detroit). It’s going to be kind of hard not having him there. But I just have to fight through it and try to get focused for the season.

“It’s going to be a tough season. Teams got better,” said Rose. “You can’t cry about it. You’ve got to go out there and play with what we have. I (still) feel the season is looking good. I think we should start off good. We still have a lot of experience and that should help us for next season.”

— On the Memphis investigation and gang signs episode: “It’s been (a tough summer). It hurt a little. It was the past. I didn’t do anything wrong in Memphis. With the gang sign, I was just joking around with my friends. Of course, you will be mad (the way the innocent gang sign thing was presented). But it’s the media. You’ve just got to learn from it and go forward. I’m just going to focus on next year and my workouts in L.A. I took the (SAT) test. That’s something you’ll have to ask Memphis (the university said it found no wrongdoing in its investigation). They’re going through it. It’s been hurtful. (I learned) the media is going to do whatever. This whole off season I really was most worried about getting my jump shot better. I can’t (worry about) what they are saying. I’ve been shooting every day. Just trying to get better so I can have a consistent jump shot. I’m staying in the gym for like 700, 800 shots. In Chicago and L.A. Just (working on) coming down shooting like Chauncey Billups to put pressure on the defense so hopefully I’ll be in his shoes some day shooting the shot.”

— On possible additions to the team in the next year: “It would be great (to have Dwyane Wade). He’s a great player, a great leader for his team. I know if he comes to the Bulls we’ll be even better. I’d love to play with him….(Carlos) Boozer is a great guy. Great post player, pick and roll player, pick and pop. For him to come I’d love it. I haven’t talked (to Boozer) or anyone about it.”

— On the No. 1 draft picks: “I saw (the rookies at Summer League on NBA-TV). I was working out with James (Johnson) a little bit in Chicago. My best friend and him were at Wyoming together, so I think I’ll be hanging with him a lot. He likes to dribble. That’s something we need on the team, someone else to drive the ball. He definitely can do that. He’s a threat when he’s on the court and I think he’ll be good for the team.”

Rose said in addition to the jump shots, he’s been working hard this summer on how to get those foul calls.

“I’m working on going to the hole, trying to get fouled more, going into people’s bodies, working on that type stuff,” he said.

Despite it’s reputation, this isn’t that exciting a place to be for kids, which Rose is here since he is 20 and no one under 21 can gamble.

“I’m too young to do anything here in Vegas,” Rose said. “If I’m standing by any (gambling) tables they kick me out. I did that (tried to play a slot machine) in high school when we were out here playing AAU and they almost kicked us out of the hotel. You just come out here to play against the great players. I watch movies. That’s the only thing you can do out here. It costs like $14.99 (at the luxury team hotel). It’s a lot, but it’s worth it.”

And, as Rose says, it’s all about the work and a burning desire to make the team. It’s clear from all he says and after playing against the Olympians last year, Rose is willing to make any sacrifice for the team.

There are expected to be three to four spots open from the 2008 team, most likely Jason Kidd, Carlos Boozer, Michael Redd and Tayshaun Prince moving on. None have backed out yet, but managing director Jerry Colangelo and returning coach Mike Krzyzewski are looking for some young talent to develop continuity for the program.

There were 23 players invited for the tryouts. My guess is Durant is for sure, especially since Krzyzewski said in playing international teams versatility at forward was important because so many power forwards play outside. The team should add a point guard, which I’d say for now would be between Rose and Devin Harris. Harris could have a slight edge now for his defense. They’ll likely add a big man between Greg Oden and Brook Lopez. Oden remains the question mark as he still plays somewhat stiffly and this season will go a long way toward showing whether he also has the toughness. I can see Danny Granger, who wasn’t here Thursday with an injury, given his versatility and shooting long distance ability. Perhaps Rudy Gay, who is a versatile talent you don’t see enough playing in Memphis.

“I love Derrick Rose,” said Colangelo. “I loved him last year coming out of college. He didn’t let anyone down as a rookie. He had a terrific year. If you are looking at our roster and are saying maybe there’s a spot open at that position, he’s got to be right there in any discussion.

“This is a great opportunity in this camp and next season to maybe separate himself from the pack in terms of competition,” said Colangelo. “If you’re looking at the point guard position, what do you have coming back? What kind of point guard are they? What kind of experience do they bring? In his case he has size and strength. He can finish. He’s getting better and better at shooting the ball. What I’m looking for in him, it’s more about body language, composure, relations on the court. It’s all about maturity, growing as a person and player. Without question he’ll be one of our top candidates.”

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