After spending more than a year taking the cautious approach as he recovered from a serious knee injury, Bulls guard Derrick Rose is ready to jump back into the swing of things with USA Basketball.
Speaking in the Philippines, where he is on a promotional tour with Adidas, the 2011 MVP said he would like to play for his country at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
"If they select me on the team, it will be an honor," Rose said, according to ABS-CBNNews.com. "I definitely will be on the team if [coach Mike Krzyzewski] wants me."
Rose, who won a gold medal at the 2010 World Championships in Turkey, recently stated that he thinks he is "100 percent" healthy after missing the entire 2012-13 season following ACL surgery on his left knee. That injury also kept him out of the 2012 London Olympics.
USA Basketball faces a stiff challenge in 2014, traveling to the home of its chief rival in recent years. Spain won silver at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Timberwolves forward Kevin Love told reporters in July that they will play in 2014 after winning gold in Turkey and London. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo hinted that Durant and Love would "probably" act as magnets to persuade other stars, like Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Rockets guard James Harden, to compete again.
Colangelo explained to the Chicago Tribune in July that Rose "could factor very well" into USA Basketball's plans for 2014.
"It's really up to him," Colangelo said. "We're waiting for him to come back physically and emotionally and see how he does this year. But we very much consider him a candidate."
USA Basketball has placed a high value on the continuity of its rosters under Colangelo, who assumed his post in 2005. Players are said to receive "equity" for their previous participation in international competitions and summer camps. Rose started all nine games in Turkey in 2010, averaging 7.2 points, 3.2 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals.
"[Rose] qualifies in a lot of ways," Colangelo said in July, according to USA Today Sports. "He knows our system. He's been part of USA Basketball. He's a terrific guy. He's a great competitor. Now we have to wait and see what he looks like. How quickly does he get back to that level, and then it's going to be up to him as to whether he wants to be with us next summer."
If Rose and Westbrook play in 2014, USA Basketball would be facing a roster squeeze in the backcourt, as Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving is also considered a lock to make the roster. That would leave a whole host of talented point guard candidates -- including 2013 summer minicamp participants Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Damian Lillard and John Wall -- to fight for whatever spots remain. It's worth noting that Krzyzewski and Colangelo have highlighted the importance of versatility from their guards, regularly moving point guards like Westbrook off the ball. Perhaps that philosophy will help ease the logjam to a degree.
Rose tore his ACL during Game 1 of a first-round playoff series against the 76ers in April 2012. His recovery hung over Chicago’s season last year, as he returned to practice in January but never made it back for game action. He was reportedly cleared to play in March and said he was “open” to a return as late as April, but that never materialized, not even when Chicago advanced to the conference semifinals without him.
“I think I am 100 percent,” Rose said, in a video posted to CSNChicago.com earlier this week. “I think the training, I’m doing almost everything. Squatting, running, lifting, almost every other day. Just being back on the court after you have the ACL, you’re kind of hesitant at first about how you step, what way you should step. Learning how to run, accelerate, accelerating while you run, while you’re slowing down. For me, I’m reacting right now, where I don’t have to think about anything. If I want to get to a spot, I’m going to get there, no matter what. It kind of feels good, having that feeling again.”
The No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft, Rose, 24, holds career averages of 21 points, 6.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau joined Krzyzewski's staff as an assistant coach this summer. Hat tip: HoopsHype.com