USA Basketball's Jerry Colangelo talks Rose's chances for 2016 Olympic games


USA Basketball's Jerry Colangelo talks Rose's chances for 2016 Olympic games

LAS VEGAS—With Summer League displaying the youth and NBA dreams players are chasing, Vegas also sets the stage for the elite of the elite next month for USA Basketball.

While the Bulls were playing their third Summer League game Tuesday afternoon in Cox Pavilion, USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo sat across the concourse at the Thomas and Mack Center watching Dallas and Washington from a VIP seat.

In a month, Colangelo will preside over what he calls a “celebration” of USA basketball during a three-day minicamp from August 11-13.

There will be a USA basketball showcase at the Thomas and Mack center, a blue and white game that could play a part in determining who’ll make the trip to Rio de Janeiro to represent the country in the 2016 Olympic games.

Bulls guards Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler (a late addition according to ESPN) presumably will be in Las Vegas hoping to impress Colangelo and USA Basketball coach Mike Kryzyzewski.

[MORE: Report: Bulls' Jimmy Butler receives Team USA invite]

Colangelo, a Chicago native, has paid attention to the road Rose has been on, and said he’s open to having a spot for the Bulls point guard considering his strong finish to the playoffs.

“We don’t want to act prematurely regarding anyone’s prospects or opportunities,” said Colangelo in an exclusive interview with CSNChicago.com. “We have a national team roster. The important thing this summer is for our people to come together, kind of a celebration if you will of USA basketball, get a read on where people are physically, what their attitude is going forward. And we have plenty of time regarding the selection of a roster for Rio.”

Seeing where players like Rose, Paul George (Indiana) and Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City) are with their rehabilitation or overall health is a chief concern for Colangelo. Seeing if LeBron James is up for his fourth run of Olympic play is whom Colangelo was referring to when he said “attitude going forward.”

The Cavaliers star hasn’t said publicly which way he was leaning but Colangelo said he’ll get a feel for what James wants to do next month. As for the Bulls oft-injured star who underwent meniscus surgery in late February before making a return in early April, Colangelo said special attention will be paid to the likes of Rose.

“Absolutely, there’s no question about it,” Colangelo said. “The ballplayers are valuable assets and we want to protect them as much as possible.”

The gruesome leg injury suffered by George at that very gym when he landed awkwardly against the basket stanchion cost George his season and the Pacers a chance at a decent 2015 playoff run.

It sparked concerns about NBA players participating in the USA Basketball program, as well as NBA team owners feeling like the teams inherently take all the risk without getting much in return, with the mob led of course by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

“We don’t want them to be at risk in any way,” Colangelo said. “Their first responsibility is to their team.”

But he added, “The good news is this: Everybody wants to play, they all want to participate and so it’ll solve itself. It’ll come out in the wash.”

“There’s a lot of considerations when you figure who’s gonna end up playing for you in the Olympics,” Colangelo said.

Golden State Warriors star and 2014-15 MVP Stephen Curry is a shoo-in at point guard while Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving will be out due to recovery for his broken kneecap he suffered in the NBA Finals.

Memphis point guard Mike Conley and Utah’s point guard Trey Burke have been invited to the camp in August, but neither are in Rose’s class as far as talent. Golden State’s Harrison Barnes, Orlando’s Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris are some swingmen who’ve been added to the camp in addition to Butler.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Despite the light atmosphere Colangelo wants to establish for the August weekend, it’s clear he has an eye toward the 2015-16 NBA season and ensuing selection process, making attendance to this nearly mandatory for consideration.

“We have another NBA season, a season that will always have its injuries because it’s part of the game,” Colangelo said. “We can watch how guys progress, we can make sure they’re injury free and we’ll be in camp a year from now in preparation for Rio. We’ll have a roster of 15-18, from which we’ll take 12.

“And trust me, it’ll be a real difficult process. There’s so many players who want to be part of it, it’ll be a big job in selecting the team.”

Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie


Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie

Los Angeles—Lauri Markkanen called himself “The Finnisher” when asked what the movie of his life would be called.

Apparently, that moniker didn’t apply to the All-Star Skills challenge as he took down the best big men but couldn’t close against a former Bull, Spencer Dinwiddie, in the final.

The contest highlights players’ ability to dribble around cones shaped like NBA logos, throwing a chest pass into a net while having to complete a layup and then 3-pointer before their opponent does.

Markkanen took down Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid before facing off with Dinwiddie. He held a pose after hitting a triple to beat the uber confident Embiid, in what will likely be used as a memorable gif following the weekend.

His confidence doesn’t come across as blatantly as Embiid’s, but that snapshot shows he’s no humble star in the making. He didn’t even practice for the contest, by his own admission.

“I heard some of the guys did,” Markkanen said. “I didn’t do much, just before the competition, I did a little warm-up.”

Missing on the first pass attempt into the circular net in the final, it gave Dinwiddie the advantage he wouldn’t relinquish, hitting on his second 3-point attempt before Markkanen could make it downcourt to contest.

“It’s a lot harder than I’ve seen,” Markkanen said. “I thought it was gonna be super easy but it was kind of tough. Maybe I need to hold my follow through (on the pass).”

“I saw he missed (the first shot) and I started going. I thought he would’ve missed it too. I think I would’ve gotten it on the third shot.”

Being one of the multi-dimensional big men in today’s game who can be adept on the perimeter as well as the interior, it almost seems like the contest was made for Markkanen. Although he doesn’t do much handling in Fred Hoiberg’s offense, it’s clearly a skill he will develop as time goes on.

The last two winners of the skills challenge were Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis, and Markkanen was well aware of the recent trend.

“The last two years the bigs have won,” Markkanen said. “I’m kind of pissed that I couldn’t keep the streak going after (those two). I think there’s a lot of guys who can do that now, it’s why they changed the format to bigs versus smalls.”

For Dinwiddie, who was discarded by the Bulls last season after a promising start in the preseason so they could pick up R.J. Hunter, he’s taken advantage of an opportunity with Brooklyn.

“I think for Chicago it was just another series of unfortunate events,” he said. “They were in win-now mode. I was an unproven guard on a non-guaranteed contract and they felt Michael Carter-Williams gave them a better shot to win.”

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 5-1

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 5-1

This is part of a four-part series looking back at the historic career of Michael Jordan and the legacy he left on the game of basketball. It all leads up to Saturday when we unveil his top 5 moments on his 55th birthday. Here are 55-4544-23, and 22-6.

5. Jordan wins fourth title and finishes greatest individual season ever, June 16, 1996

It’s hard to comprehend just how much Jordan accomplished during the 1995-96 season. We’ll try:He won his fourth championship, was named NBA Finals MVP for a record fourth time, won All-Star Game MVP, won a record 72 games, was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team, was the league’s leading scorer and became the Bulls’ all-time leader in games played. So when he dropped a casual 22 points in Game 6, it marked the end of one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. Oh, and Space Jam came out a few months later.
4. Jordan hits six triples, scores 35 points in first half against Blazers, June 3, 1992

During the 1991-92 regular season, Jordan never made more than three 3-pointers in a single game. In fact, the most 3-pointers he had in any two-game stretch that year was four. So when he began burying triple after triple in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, even Jordan couldn’t believe it, giving a shrug toward the NBC announcers as if to say, “I don’t know, either.” Jordan finished the first half with six triples and scored an NBA-record 35 points. The Bulls cruised in the second half, so Jordan finished with only 39, but his shrug remains one of the most iconic NBA Finals moments in history.
3. Jordan battles the flu, scores 38 in Game 5 on his way to fifth title, June 11, 1997

The Flu Game. Jordan was battling a nasty illness in the lead-up to a pivotal Game 5 in Utah, and there were concerns about whether he would even suit up. Hours before tip Jordan got out of bed and made his way to the arena, looking to halt Utah’s momentum after it had taken Games 3 and 4 to tie the series. The Jazz came out red-hot while Jordan looked sluggish, but he responded with 17 points in the second quarter alone to give the Bulls a halftime lead. Jordan then keyed a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to erase a Jazz lead, and he hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to give the Bulls a three-point lead. The Bulls hung on, and Jordan collapsed into Scottie Pippen’s arms walking off the floor. His final line? 38 points, 13 of 27 shooting, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Two days later the Bulls won the title in front of a sellout Chicago crowd.

2. Jordan scores 63 points against Celtics in playoff loss, April 20, 1986

Jordan had just turned 23 years old when he took to the Boston Garden floor to face Larry Bird in his prime and the Celtics. These Celtics had gone 40-1 at home, led the NBA in field goal percentage defense, started FOUR future Hall of Famers and had a fifth come off the bench. They would ultimately go down as one of the all-time greatest teams, and Jordan made them look absolutely silly. He played 50 minutes in the double-overtime thriller, shooting 22 of 41 from the field and making 19 of 21 free throws, including the last two with no time on the clock and the Bulls trailing by two at the end of regulation. He scored 54 in regulation, added five in the first overtime and four in the second. He also led the Bulls with six assists. It still stands as the NBA record for most points in any playoff game. Twenty-three years old. Twenty. Three.

1. Jordan scores 45 in final game with the Bulls, securing sixth championship, June 14, 1998

Jordan’s final game with the Bulls was iconic. Like so many of these moments, die hards know exactly where they were. The 45 points were majestic, and while he only had one rebound and one assist he affected just about every possession on both ends. But what we’ll remember most is the final 37 seconds. Jordan drove to the basket for layup that cut Utah’s lead to one, then stripped Karl Malone from behind on the next trip down. That gave the ball back to the Bulls with 20 seconds left. Jordan let the clock tick down to around 9 seconds before making his move from the left wing, driving right on Bryon Russell, (maybe pushing off) and pulling up for a jumper at the foul line. The shot was good with 5.2 seconds remaining, and John Stockton’s ensuing 3-pointer was off the mark. It gave Jordan and the Bulls their sixth NBA title, and marked the perfect ending to his Bulls career: getting it done on both ends, in the clutch, and finishing with a victory. Because it encapsulated so much of his 14-year career in Chicago, it’s our top Michael Jordan moment.