Rose says he’s healthy even with missing USA game


Aug 20

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Get ready for the Derrick Rosa saga these, say, next 275 days.

Rose sat out Wednesday’s USA Basketball 105-62 exhibition game romp over the Dominican Republic to rest soreness in his knees or merely just to rest. It prompted a discussion on the NBA TV broadcast among Marv Albert, Grant Hill and Steve Smith about whether Rose should withdraw from the team because of his apparent uncertainty or whether he should be cut when the team gets down to the required 12 from the current 16.

Rose is scheduled to practice with the team Thursday in New York and play in Friday’s exhibition game against Puerto Rico before the team leaves after that for Spain. Perhaps two or three cuts could be made after Friday’s game with a final exhibition game Tuesday in the Canary Islands.

"Just trying to protect myself, just knowing that this is a long, long schedule and this is the most basketball I'll (have played) in two years," Rose said. "So I'm just going in, trying to gear up, making sure that I'm healthy. Not the knees. No, no, no, no; you don't have to worry about that."

“Just trying to protect myself, just knowing that this is a long, long schedule and this is the most basketball I’ll (have played) in two years,” Rose said. “So I’m just going in, trying to gear up, making sure that I’m healthy. Not the knees. No, no, no, no; you don’t have to worry about that.” (David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images)

Rose told reporters in New York after Wednesday’s game his surgically repaired knees were not an issue and it was merely fatigue and caution. “Nothing to worry about,” assured Rose. USA Basketball officials also said they wanted to use others players who didn’t play in Saturday’s exhibition in Chicago, like DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond and Gordon Hayward, to help make final judgments on the roster.

“Just trying to protect myself, just knowing that this is a long, long schedule and this is the most basketball I’ll (have played) in two years,” Rose said. “So I’m just going in, trying to gear up, making sure that I’m healthy. Not the knees. No, no, no, no; you don’t have to worry about that.”

Late in the TV broadcast, NBA TV’s Matt Winer asked USA Managing Director Jerry Colangelo: “What is your level of confidence (Rose will) be on the roster for the World Cup in Spain when you land there?”

“It’s an opinion,” said Colangelo. “I’d say cautiously optimistic. I think for him being down as long as he was, for him to come back and be where he is, it’s good. It’s still early to really know. He needs to rest more than anything. I think he’s going to be all right.”

Earlier in the broadcast, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who is a USA assistant coach, said of Rose: “We gave him a couple of days off. We knew he would have some soreness. We just thought another day of rest would be good for him and we also wanted to get a look at some other players. So it worked out he wouldn’t play tonight.”

Mason Plumlee also didn’t play Wednesday because the coaches wanted to see Drummond, who had a big finish with highlight play lobs and blocks and 12 points in 16 minutes. Hardly anyone noticed, especially the fans as there were chants for Rose to play throughout the game as he clearly has emerged as the most popular player on the team. Kyle Korver and Chandler Parsons also didn’t play Wednesday. Rudy Gay and DeRozan led the USA Basketball team with 13 points each. Kyrie Irving, starting for Rose, and James Harden had 12 each.

DeMarcus Cousins, who didn’t play Saturday, led in rebounding with eight. The Dominican Republic is in the “pool” playing in Bilboa, Spain from Aug. 30 through Sept. 4 along with the USA, Finland, New Zealand, Turkey and Ukraine. Those teams compete against one another to advance to the round of 16 in Barcelona.

But this FIBA basketball and World Cup of Basketball tournament also is a business. It would be no surprise that FIBA and USA Basketball want Rose, one of just two USA players (Stephen Curry) from the last gold medal winning world championship team, on the USA team if at all possible given he is the most popular USA player with fans worldwide.

Rose had not practiced the last two days, though the team didn’t have much practice after arriving at West Point Monday. They only went through a light scrimmage Tuesday as Rose didn’t play. Just precautionary was the explanation.

When Rose participated in shootaround Wednesday and then was a game time scratch, the questions, concerns, red flags and panic buttons began to go off.

Was he hurt? Were they hiding something? What was wrong now? Did he stick with deep dish or have a thin slice in New York?

There likely is not any major issue involving Rose’s health despite the usual skepticism. After all, if there were you can be sure the Bulls would be recalling Rose. If a player is injured, like with the Spurs Manu Ginobili, the team has the right despite the NBA’s endorsement of the tournament to remove a player from USA Basketball. The Bulls, with Thibodeau and staff accompanying Rose, have received no notices of concern regarding Rose.

My belief is USA Basketball desperately wants Rose on the team. Rose obviously was able to play Wednesday following a spirited morning workout. But the thinking likely was why put Rose out there in a game the USA team was likely to win by 40 or 50. Yes, Rose has to begin playing and should play. Playing for USA Basketball is an important part of getting him ready for the 2014-15 NBA season. Bulls management and Thibodeau have all endorsed Rose playing as a vital prelude to returning to play.

But it’s not like the USA team desperately needs him — or any one player — on the court against the likes of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Slovenia in exhibitions or against the five other teams in the pool play. Sure, it’s a hectic schedule with five games in the first six days once pool play begins. But it hardly would be necessary for Rose or, really, any specific other USA player to play in every one of those games. My sense is USA Basketball wants Rose as strong as possible for the round of 16 starting in Barcelona Sept. 6. The finals are Sept. 13 and 14 in Madrid.

Yet, any time there is something out of the ordinary regarding Rose, it not surprisingly raises concerns given his ACL surgery in 2012 and meniscus surgery last year. And it’s hardly ridiculous, after all, since Rose had major surgeries on both knees and is so important to the Bulls’ future. And with the credibility deficit of some of our major institutions, like Congress and the banking industry, citizens are hardly irresponsible to cite a level of suspicion with official pronouncements.

It’s obviously going to be a narrative that plays out all season with the Bulls as well.

Prepare for it and the constant theories, speculation and allegations of deceit.

If Rose sits out, as he did Wednesday, the questions will be about what’s wrong with him.

When he plays, the issues will be whether he is playing too much, being pushed too hard and whether he needs to be more cautious after missing most of the last two seasons.

Pick your side.

Rose Wednesday said he was fine; Thibodeau said he was fine; coach Mike Krzyzewski said he was fine. Sure, but what were they hiding?

Next chapter, Friday.

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