Derrick Rose says he's back to being a 'special player' after one practice with U.S. team

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports

LAS VEGAS – After one practice, USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo saw enough from Derrick Rose to be comfortable saying the Chicago Bulls guard has a "great chance" to play in the upcoming World Cup in Spain.

Rose has played in only 10 total games the past two seasons for the Bulls and 50 the past three because of various injuries – most notably two major knee surgeries. The 2011 NBA MVP said he is fully committed to making the team. He's competing against a strong list of points guards that includes Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and John Wall.

"If [Monday] was any indication, he'll be just fine," Colangelo said. "We have a month here for people to get ready. Based on today, I'll project him two weeks, three weeks, four weeks from now … he'll be ready.

"It's a glowing report for a great player and a great young man. I'm excited for him. We will keep our fingers crossed for people to stay healthy and continue to move on. But we're talking about a former MVP in the league. If he's healthy, he's got a great chance to be on this team."

 

Rose last played in an NBA game on Nov. 22 before succumbing to knee issues and missing the rest of last season. He has been playing five-on-five since May in Chicago.

Team USA's practice marked the first time Rose has been seen playing publicly since his last game with the Bulls. He fully participated in scrimmages and drills with no restrictions in Monday's practice.

"I really think I'm a special player, in my mind," said Rose, who was on the 2010 gold-medal-winning USA world championship team. "I still have youth. I'm only 25. I'm just doing everything I'm supposed to do in rehab."

Rose said he needs to improve only his conditioning and that his jump shot and runner are much better now.

When asked when he will play like his old self again, Rose said, "I'm there, man. I'm not worried about that. My confidence is very high. That's the only thing you might see [different] this year. My confidence level is through the roof."

Derrick Rose played in only 10 games the past two seasons for the Bulls. (AP)
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Derrick Rose played in only 10 games the past two seasons for the Bulls. (AP)

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, an assistant on Mike Krzyzewski's Team USA, called Rose's participation in the U.S. training camp "the next step" because of the high competition level.

"I like the way he played," Thibodeau said. "I thought he found a rhythm out there. He didn't force things. He played both sides of the ball. He pushed himself. It was an encouraging first step."

Rose's Bulls had a strong offseason led by the signing of free-agent forward Pau Gasol. The Bulls also signed rookie center Nikola Mirotic, guard Aaron Brooks and drafted forward Doug McDermott. Rose expects the Bulls to be a "strong contender," but didn't project an NBA Finals appearance in the wide-open Eastern Conference.

"I'm not necessarily putting us at the top of the East," Rose said. "But we have a contender team. We know as a team what we're trying to do. We all have one goal. Individually, this whole summer everybody worked on their games and everybody is trying to compete for the title next year."

Rose said he was disappointed the Bulls didn't get Carmelo Anthony in free agency, but respected Anthony's decision to return to the New York Knicks. Chicago has had trade discussions with Minnesota for All-Star forward Kevin Love.

"I can't think about that right now," Rose said of Love. "That's up to the front office. I'm riding with any decision they make. My job right now is to prepare for this and try to keep my body healthy."

Rose's brother Reggie was happy to see his brother take the next step in his return.

"I've seen him on this road to coming back the first time," Reggie Rose said. "But what I see now is the confidence in him. He ain't second doubting himself. He's like, 'This is what I do.'

"In the end, I know a lot of people in the gym were like, 'Wow. It doesn't look like he's missed a beat.' "

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