Attendance at the USA Basketball minicamp was mandatory for anyone wishing to be considered amongst the final 12 for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, and although a couple players had excused absences, Derrick Rose did not.
Rose opted to skip the minicamp, which obviously disappointed USA Basketball Executive Director Jerry Colangelo, but Colangelo stated the program would move forward without the Bulls’ point guard.
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook works out with Rose in Los Angeles and wasn’t surprised Rose decided to skip the minicamp.
“No, it’s his decision,” Westbrook said. “Obviously, he did it before, won a gold medal (in the 2014 World Championships). It’s his first summer to get healthy, to get an opportunity to be healthy and get some rest.”
Westbrook and Rose work out with famed trainer Rob McClanaghan, who was also in attendance at the USA minicamp. McClanaghan said Rose knew the stakes of the three-day event but declined anyhow, and with the glut of point guards who appear to have a leg up on Rose, he wouldn’t be wrong to surmise it would be a tough sell to make the final 12.
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MVP Stephen Curry and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul are locks, along with Westbrook being versatile enough to play both guard spots. Washington’s John Wall and Rose aren’t the traditional international point guards because they aren’t exceptional outside shooters, while Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, when healthy, does fit the mold.
Nevertheless, the good news is Westbrook had high praise for Rose in their summer workouts, considering the two have been linked together as attacking, athletic point guards.
“He looked good. Real good.” Westbrook said. “Back to himself. Back to D-Rose.”
But McClanaghan understood Rose wanting to give himself some time off after undergoing meniscus surgery in late February which made way for his postseason showing.
“Right now, he just wants to stay healthy,” McClanaghan said. “I definitely think his rhythm is back. Just going every day. His timing and his rhythm are his biggest thing.”
“Finishing at the rim. That’s definitely a little better. Just going back to five days a week, coming in every day, same time. He’s been in LA the whole time. He hasn’t had much going on.”
Aside from a trip to China for an Adidas promotion, McClanaghan has said Rose has spent most of his offseason in Los Angeles in preparation for this season—the first time since the 2010-11 season where he finished it healthy.
When someone asked how his explosion looks compared to then, when he was a 22-year old MVP, McClanaghan laughed: “That was awhile back.”
“Again, he looks like the old Derrick to me,” he said. “Again, last summer too. But now having that full year and a good playoff run and all that, everything with the mental stuff is back too. I think everything has come together this summer. He’s got momentum going into the summer unlike last year. Mentally, physically, he looks ready to go.”
Multiple knee procedures and setbacks later, there’s again question marks that can’t be answered until he steps on the floor again — honestly, there’ll always be question marks until he proves he can do it consistently.
But Clanaghan believes being paired with Westbrook can help Rose, seeing someone so competitive go after it every day. The two have been linked since the 2008 Final Four, when Rose’s Memphis team beat Westbrook’s UCLA squad in the national semifinal.
“The work he’s put in has been great,” McClanghan said. “So there’s no reason he won’t have a great year. I work Derrick and Russell together. It’s amazing how competitive those guys are in the workout. Unlike many guys in the league, those guys push each other. Being friends is a good thing but within the workout you can see the competition, it’s really fun. Going back to Predraft 08. So getting back to those old times.”