Derrick Rose: No problem with Bulls

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1

LAS VEGAS -- Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose says there is no problem between himself and the organization after he acknowledged Thursday that there is lingering tension between some members of his inner circle and members of the team's front office.

"It's funny just hearing so many stories about what's going on, and they're coming out kind of out of nowhere," Rose said in an interview with ESPN prior to Team USA's scrimmage on Friday night.

"It's funny to hear about them, but it's nothing that's going on. Everybody that came here -- [Bulls general manager] Gar [Forman], [Bulls executive vice president John Paxson] -- came here to show love and for someone to just write something or throw something out there that's not true, it's kind of like, 'What are you doing?' It's kind of like hatin' because so much positive [stuff] is going on and you want to write the one article and just try to stir up something. It's something we don't need, but at the same time it's the past, it's behind us and I talked to Jerry [Reinsdorf, Bulls owner) already, so I'm not worried about it."

Rose told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday that he knows there are some hard feelings on both sides after several events the past few seasons.

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Wins, healthy Rose will ease Bulls' tension

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg

CHICAGO -- Maybe Joakim Noah should take a break from his Chicago violence outreach to help squash the really important West Side beef in the news: The Chicago Bulls vs. Derrick Rose's "people."

The lingering soap opera between Rose, his management team and the Bulls went prime-time Thursday in a Chicago Sun-Times story that illustrated the inner squabbles that occurred when a superstar went down and a franchise's grand plans went for naught.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose returning to form will do wonders for any lingering tension between his camp and the Bulls front office.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does an NBA team. No Derrick Rose the past two seasons meant plenty of time to focus on the backstage politicking of guys who aren't named Derrick Rose.

This story, with all its ego, competing agendas and muddled messaging, is interesting and worth monitoring.

But given that Rose isn't going anywhere in the near future, the only thing that truly matters on Aug. 1, 2014, is that Rose is playing his tail off for the U.S. national team with an eye on reclaiming his paused career this season.

Rose is certainly due some good fortune after two knee injuries in three seasons.

Maybe the Sun-Times story, which angered chairman Jerry Reinsdorf so much that his people sent out an over-the-top, thesaurus-friendly reaction, will finally force everyone to sort out some simmering, behind-the-scenes tensions, especially between agent B.J. Armstrong, Derrick's older brother/manager Reggie Rose and the Bulls management team.

Maybe they already have talked it out, with Noah listening intently and humming some Bob Marley.

Or maybe everyone acts like Rose and just ignores the situation and goes about their business.

Every team has internal problems. The Michael Jordan Bulls won six titles around serious squabbles.

Winning cures what is ailing the Bulls. In Rose's case, simply playing would do the trick.

As Rose said himself at the U.S. camp in Las Vegas, he needs to relax from the pressure he's under and let the game come back to him.

Rose just needs to play basketball like the youngest MVP in league history. There's no image makeover like splitting a double team for a dunk. You don't need to call a press conference to explain it.

Given that Rose's real agent, Arn Tellem, is friends with Reinsdorf, I don't think a rift affects Rose's present status with the team, though the future is certainly unwritten.

Rose respects coach Tom Thibodeau, so that's not a problem. He likes his teammates, and hey, he even recruited Pau Gasol.

The Bulls are a championship contender, in theory, and there is much to look forward to this season.

As Rose told the Sun-Times, "It's a new beginning."

That's good news. Rose was in an unfortunate situation the past couple years. He didn't get to enjoy his post-MVP season, a truncated mess that saw him nursing minor injuries until his ACL blew up in his first playoff game.

Then he misses a season, which was more controversial than it should have been because of an embarrassing lack of communication between his management team, the Bulls and himself.

Then he tears a ligament in his other knee 10 games into his return.

Before the injuries hit, Noah said, "You never hear anybody say anything bad about Pooh, you know."

That sure changed the past two years. Chicago abhors an injured superstar.

I can't speak for Rose, but how was he supposed to learn to lead on the bench? How was he supposed to grow?

Rose will be 26 when this season begins, and if you're a human being who likes watching Rose run and jump, you hope that the "dark period of time" he spoke about in Las Vegas is over.

I don't blame his management team for being overly protective of him, especially when it came to his knee two years ago.

I don't blame the Bulls if they were mad that Rose didn't communicate his plans to them or that he didn't recruit Carmelo Anthony to their liking -- even though I think that whole idea, players recruiting superstars like they're 17 again, is idiotic and overblown by reporters. I also thought whoever leaked the story that Rose didn't know Anthony was coming to Chicago did Derrick a great disservice while trying to dis the Bulls.

But forget all that nonsense. With Rose healthy, everyone, from Armstrong to Paxson, should have the same goal in mind: No. 1 dominating and the Bulls advancing deep in the playoffs.

Once Rose gets back on the court, then we can all finally focus on the important things, like Thibodeau playing Rose too many minutes in the regular season.

Won't that be a relief?

Rick Brunson pleads not guilty

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1

VERNON HILLS, Ill. -- Former Chicago Bulls player Rick Brunson has pleaded not guilty to sexual abuse charges.

The News Sun in Waukegan reports that the 42-year-old from Vernon Hills entered the plea Thursday in Lake County Circuit Court.

He faces charges of sexual abuse, attempted sexual assault, domestic battery and battery in connection with an alleged encounter with an employee at a suburban Chicago fitness center.

His attorney, Dennis Berkson, says the former player will "vigorously fight" the charges and be found innocent.

A hearing is scheduled Sept. 9 and a trial is scheduled Oct. 27.

Brunson played for eight NBA teams from 1997 to 2006. He's been an assistant coach for college and pro teams, including the Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Bobcats.

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Freddie Coleman and Skip Bayless discuss whether they believe Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf's assertion that there is no discord between the organization and Derrick Rose.

Derrick Rose: 'A new beginning'

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31

LAS VEGAS -- Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose acknowledged Thursday that there is lingering tension between some members of his inner-circle and members of the team's organization.

"I know it's been there,'' Rose told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I heard there were some upset people. I'm happy I didn't personally see it. I don't want to see that. I kind of wonder where it was coming from because it seemed like whenever I was around, everything was all right. It bothered me because when I wasn't around, I would hear from certain people that everything wasn't all right.''

The tension Rose discussed has been widely speculated upon over the years, especially after the former MVP's recent injury woes. Bulls executive vice president John Paxson tried to allay those concerns during an appearance on ESPN 1000's "Waddle and Silvy Show" on Thursday.

"I know I personally talk to Derrick," Paxson said. "I don't talk to people in his so called 'camp.' I don't even know who that [is]."

While there's no clear-cut start as to where the bad blood began, there are plenty of clues as to why things got so bad. B.J. Armstrong

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Rose Reax: Guard continues to impress

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
Friedell By Nick Friedell
LAS VEGAS -- Kevin Durant is getting a little frustrated about having to answer the same question every day. He respects Derrick Rose a lot -- the two have trained together in years past -- but he isn't sure how to keep describing just how solid his friend has looked during the first four days of Team USA's camp.

"He looked the same as I said [Wednesday]," Durant said. "Great."

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesAfter another successful day at Team USA camp, Derrick Rose was feeling sure of himself: "I think that I'm back, man."
Durant's feelings summed up how many people around the Mendenhall Center felt about Rose -- he really has been that good as he continues to make his way back from a torn meniscus in his right knee.

"I don't know how much more I can answer that one," Durant said. "How different I can answer, he looks great. I'm excited I get a chance to play with him on his first time back after last year."

As he has said repeatedly over the past few days, Rose is just happy to be back on the court. He said his wind is getting better each time he has been out there.

"I think that I'm back, man," Rose said. "I'm not worried about my knee anymore. I got three days under my belt and I'm just trying to keep playing, playing hard and just trying to improve every day."

A light day: Team USA had a shortened practice Thursday and just did some light work. Rose took some jumpers during the portion of practice that was open to the media. Like most of the players in Friday night's scrimmage, Rose is expected to play somewhere around 20 minutes. The international games are only 40 minutes long compared to 48 in the NBA.

"He looks great," Wizards guard John Wall said. "He looks like his old self. He'll probably be more aggressive and all that when he gets into the competition rounds but right now I think he's proven he's going to be his [old] self again. And I think that's really what everybody's worried about, would he still have his explosion and all that. I know the city of Chicago is excited and I know how hard he worked and how hard he's going to keep working to keep himself going."

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Rose: Love to Cavs wouldn't impact Bulls

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
Friedell By Nick Friedell
LAS VEGAS -- Derrick Rose says nothing will change for the Chicago Bulls even if Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love lands in Cleveland. Love has been at the forefront of trade speculation for weeks and the growing feeling around the league is that he will eventually land with the Cavaliers since that is the only team Minnesota is currently speaking with in serious talks, according to an report on Wednesday.

"For us, I think it wouldn't change anything," Rose said Thursday after Team USA's practice. "We know that no matter who we play that we have a legit change to beat anyone in the league. But, at the same time, we know it's not going to be easy at all because guys are getting better. You have guys going to different teams and it's going to be tough. But, at the same time, that's why we're in the NBA and that's why we love this game, for the challenge."

If Love were to be traded to Cleveland it would go a long way toward changing the balance of power in the Eastern Conference, especially in the Central Division. Before the latest news regarding Love's future became public, Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George said Tuesday that he believed the Central Division is the best in basketball.

"You got to," he said. "You've got three of the top teams in this league all in the Central division and we're all contenders for a championship, not just reaching the Finals. So all of us got our cards cut out for us. It's just all about getting the job done."

The growth of the Central Division has caught the attention of the basketball world over the last few weeks.

"It's going to be a tough division," Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant said. "Milwaukee's going to be pretty good. Cleveland, Detroit, so it should be a good division, man. They're going to be fighting every night to get that division crown. The Bulls and Cleveland of course are the top two teams, but everybody's going to be fighting."

George echoed those sentiments.

"It's going to be tough," he said. "There's going to be battles. Even in Milwaukee, they've got some young guys there, and adding Jabari (Parker), he's ready to make some noise in the Central division as well. But it's going to be tough. When you've got guys like Derrick, myself, LeBron (James), Kyrie (Irving). We all want that moment and want that competitiveness."

While Rose wouldn't go as far as to say it was the best division in basketball, he did acknowledge that he was looking forward to the competition it would provide night to night.

"I wouldn't say (the Central is) the best in the league, but we have a lot of competition in that division," Rose said. "Playing against them teams every night you got to make sure that you got to come out prepared well and (in) rhythm for a tough game. Because I think everybody's getting prepared right now knowing what we're doing here. Everybody's going in the gym right now just working on their game because they know we get kind of a head start playing in stuff like this."

Love decided not to participate in Team USA's training camp as his future place of employment hangs in the balance, but everyone in Las Vegas knows how his presence in Cleveland would change things in the league.

"It would be great," Washington Wizards guard John Wall said of a potential Love to Cleveland move. "That would be a big three you need, but you've still got to find a way to put that chemistry together. That's where it all starts at. It would be big for the Eastern Conference, but you've got to figure out a way to put it together."

After watching them up close, David Thorpe says even beyond the big names the draft class of 2014 has a chance to be the best since 1984.

Bulls GM happy with 'aggressive' offseason

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
Friedell By Nick Friedell
LAS VEGAS -- Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman hasn't completely ruled out making another major deal before training camp, but said Wednesday he is happy with the roster he and executive vice president John Paxson have put together this summer.

The Bulls added veterans Pau Gasol and Aaron Brooks, European star Nikola Mirotic, and rookie Doug McDermott while re-signing Kirk Hinrich to go along with a core led by All-Stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

[+] EnlargeBulls
AP Photo/M. Spencer GreenNikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol headline the Bulls' offseason additions.
"We were really pleased," Forman said. "We said going into the offseason we had a level of flexibility that we thought we could really upgrade our team in several ways. We wanted to have a deeper team. I think we accomplished that. I think we've got quality depth pretty much across the board. And then we wanted to improve our skill level and our ability to shoot the basketball to space the floor, and I think we were able to do that so we were very encouraged with how the free-agency period went as far as putting our team together and putting pieces together that we think fit with the core guys we have coming back and fit with each other, the new guys coming in."

One new guy who likely isn't headed to Chicago is Minnesota Timberwolves big man Kevin Love. reported late Wednesday night that the Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team in serious negotiations at this time. Forman spoke to the media hours before the latest Love report came out.

"It's become a 12-month cycle," Forman said. "And the NBA, it used to be this time of year things would just kind of die. The sense is it's not like that anymore. There's always some talk. That's our job. We're always going to try to talk to people around the league, get a feel for what's going on in the market. And if there are opportunities, we'll look at them. With that said, we really like the group that we have, and we're looking forward to getting going in October with that group."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau likes the group, as well, but he said his team must prove itself on the floor.

"It looks good, but we have to see how it unfolds," Thibodeau said. "The team that won 62 games and won 50 in the lockout season, they did it on the floor so we can talk about it but we got to put the work into it and then we got to see what it looks like when we're on the floor. But I think we have quality depth. I love the players that we have, so we're looking forward to the challenge."

Forman, who said the Bulls were "aggressive" in their pursuit of free agents, and Thibodeau know the Bulls are only going to be able to contend for a title if Rose stays healthy. That's why they are so pleased with what they have seen from Rose during Team USA's camp this week.

"I think he's been terrific," Forman said. "He looks strong, he looks confident, he looks explosive, he's been in a real good rhythm. He's playmaking for himself and others. It's been really, really encouraging."

Perspective changes for rehabbing Rose

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
Friedell By Nick Friedell

LAS VEGAS -- Derrick Rose is on a mission.

The Chicago Bulls star wants to prove to all of his critics that he can still play basketball at an elite level. He wants to prove to his doubters that his body can withstand the grind of an NBA season after suffering two career-altering knee injuries that wiped out all but 49 games the past three seasons. He wants to prove to the city of Chicago, his hometown, that he can still be the man -- on and off the floor -- that they always wanted him to be.

But as Rose gets set for his second comeback, the most important lesson he wants to teach this season isn't for all his doubters. Rose wants to show his son P.J., who will be 2 in October, that his dad didn't give up when times got tough.

"I know how special I am as a player," Rose said. "I know I take the game serious. Basketball is my life so I can't give up. I have a son that's looking up to me, and when he gets older and realizes what's going on he's going to look back, and hopefully that gives him a little bit of motivation knowing that I had to go through so much. And I hope that pushes him to become a great individual."

That's part of the reason Rose's outlook has changed as he tries to make his way back from a torn meniscus in his right knee. He is playing for more than just winning basketball games this time around.

Rose admitted for the first time on Wednesday after a practice with Team USA that he wasn't having very much fun on the floor last year during his comeback from a torn ACL in his left knee. He played seven preseason games, and through 10 regular-season games he was averaging 15 points and shooting 35 percent from the field.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose has plenty of motivation in his comeback, including his desire to show his young son that his dad won't quit.
All the pressure and all the hype took its toll on the soft-spoken 25-year-old from Englewood, a neighborhood in Chicago.

"I felt like, the first time I came back, I felt like it was damn near like a job instead of just going out there and having fun," Rose said. "When I came back last fall I felt like it was a job. I wasn't smiling, I wasn't enjoying the game, I was trying not to mess up, and with me I usually just go out there and play. Me playing at least is something good, but at the time it was just too much going on, and I think that was just a dark side for me. Just a dark period of time."

In hindsight, it's easy to understand why Rose felt that way. After the nonstop speculation regarding his return to the floor -- fueled by a major advertising campaign from his shoe sponsor, Adidas -- Rose never played during the 2012-13 season despite being cleared by team doctors. That decision made fans question Rose for the first time, but it's a choice that he wouldn't change as he looks back on it over a year and a half later.

"I knew in my mind, if I wasn't right I wasn't playing," Rose said. [Bulls director of sports performance] Jen [Swanson] and everybody was on the same page, from the front office all the way down to the strength and conditioning coach, Nick [Papendieck]. Everybody knew that I wasn't ready at that time, and we kind of kept [the information] in. But I kind of let them know every day that I wasn't ready."

Rose heard the criticism and the second-guessing, but he didn't care. Rose knew he had to be "selfish" for one of the first times in his career. The man who always wanted to please everybody had to look out for himself.

"I would hear about it, but I wouldn't pay attention to it," he said of the criticism. "People would come ask me about it. I'm thankful that my teammates didn't ask me about it because they kind of knew that I wasn't ready, or they probably saw that I was able to play but they left it up to me, so I appreciate that."

When Rose did come back to start last season, he struggled to find a rhythm early in the campaign and internalized all the pressure surrounding his comeback. It looked as if he was pressing during games, a fact that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, among others, has acknowledged recently.

When Rose went down with the torn meniscus on Nov. 22 in Portland, just 10 games into his comeback season, it felt like Groundhog Day for everyone involved. He stood in front of a mirror in the visitors' locker room in the Moda Center and couldn't believe what he was seeing while holding himself on crutches. But Rose said things started to change for him soon afterward.

"It changed with the second injury," he said of his mindset. "I knew that I couldn't be mad or be in that place for a whole year again. So I really attacked my rehab and it really was fun this time. The first time it was hell … this time it was hell, too, but I was able to enjoy it a little bit more seeing that improvement."

Rose spent more time around his teammates the second time around. He tried to stay more involved with the Bulls on a day-to-day basis, and he believes that helped him stay upbeat. He also got to spend more time with son P.J., and that kept him balanced throughout the most trying part of his career.

"My son is huge," Rose said. "He's everything, man. I think he's my No. 1 fan. Me being around him almost every other day, it's a blessing. ... I'm just going to use as motivation."

Those closest to Rose can see the subtle differences in his personality as well. Life experiences, especially becoming a parent, change everyone in some way, and Rose is no different. He seems much more comfortable in his surroundings this time and more relaxed about his situation.

"He's matured every year," said Kentucky coach John Calipari, who coached Rose at Memphis. "[All players] do. It's funny, the one thing is, he still doesn't pass on a chance to say, 'I love ya, coach.' But as they get older, they become a little more aware. I think what his family did, which was a great thing, is they let him be a kid. What's happening to a lot of these kids right now, they're having to grow up too fast. His family kept everybody away from him: coaches, everybody. Mom [Brenda] was strong, [his] brothers, and he was able to be who he was, and now he's coming into his own. People forget how young he is. Look at him, he was the MVP [at 22]. What are you talking about? This kid's got 10 years of playing left and probably eight at a high level. But I'm happy for him; he hasn't changed, in my mind. He's still the same guy."


People forget how young he is. Look at him, he was the MVP [at 22]. What are you talking about? This kid's got 10 years of playing left and probably eight at a high level. But I'm happy for him, he hasn't changed in my mind. He's still the same guy.

-- John Calipari on Derrick Rose
Rose still has the same confidence and fire on the floor. He still believes he is the best player each time he comes into a game. The difference now is that he doesn't appear to be as concerned about the perception around him.

"I think it's who Derrick is," Thibodeau said of Rose's maturity. "I think each year, I'm going into Year No. 5 with him, and each year he's been a lot different. So I think the type of person that he is, he'll continue to grow. I think he learns from each experience. When you look at his first three years in the league, it's pretty amazing. Sometimes people forget how good he actually is. And then he had the misfortune of the injury, and then getting reinjured. So it was a setback, but he never changed. He always had the belief that 'I'm going to come back, and I'm going to be great again,' and I believe he will be."

That's the biggest key for Rose as he starts the long process of changing the perception around him. He didn't doubt himself while most of the world did. He trusted in the process and he believed he would overcome anything that got in his way.

"I don't think I have to prove anything to myself," he said. "I think just coming on the court, I think after the first day I'm fine, to tell you the truth. I know that I can play with these guys. It seems that everyone's been working on their game, and me seeing them shoot and seeing them improve is going to make me go back after I leave here and work even harder."

Nothing will make him work as hard as remembering that he is playing for his son. Rose already accepts the fact that his son will have a lot of expectations placed upon him because of his famous father. With that in mind, Rose is trying as best he can to write a different story for his son to follow.

In the short term, the proud papa is trying to enjoy this latest comeback with his favorite wingman by his side.

"It means everything," Rose said of having P.J. "Just seeing what I'm going through. And just seeing him growing up, he's going to have so much pressure on him just from me and what I achieved. I think he has the right attitude because he's real firm with his decisions right now. He's real independent, and I think for him, that's what he needs growing up because he's not going to take no [crap] from nobody."

Just like his daddy.

Rose: 'Most talented' Bulls team of career

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
Friedell By Nick Friedell
LAS VEGAS -- Derrick Rose has high hopes for his new Chicago Bulls as he returns from a second knee surgery.

"I think this is the most talented team I've played on in my NBA career to tell you the truth," Rose said after Team USA's practice Wednesday. "With all the players that I have, with the experience that everybody's bringing to the table. And the way that everybody's working out individually during the offseason and what I've been hearing."

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose is excited by the talent and depth of this new Bulls team.
The Bulls struck out in their attempt to lure free agent Carmelo Anthony to Chicago but quickly pivoted to a backup plan earlier this month. They signed four-time All-Star center Pau Gasol to a three-year, $22 million contract as well as European star Nikola Mirotic, a Bulls draft pick in 2011 who has been playing the past three seasons for Real Madrid. They also re-signed Kirk Hinrich, added rookie sharpshooter Doug McDermott in a draft-day trade and signed veteran guard Aaron Brooks to provide depth behind Rose.

Rose is pleased with the efforts made by general manager Gar Forman and executive VP John Paxson in upgrading the roster.

"I have that sense that they went for it," Rose said. "That they gave their all. We got who we could get and who wanted to come. And that's who we have to ride with. We have a lot of confidence in the players that we just signed and we know that the guys that's already there is working out very hard. So it's just a matter of getting in the gym, working out together, jelling very quickly, since we're not going overseas early."

Rose, who is in Las Vegas this week as part of Team USA's training camp in advance of the FIBA Basketball World Cup that starts next month in Spain, acknowledges that he is motivated by seeing the work his teammates have been putting in over the past few months.

"Just seeing [second-year forward] Tony Snell bust his [butt] in the gym the whole summer, seeing Doug [McDermott] come in and do the same thing and they end up playing well, it kind of gave me a boost and let me know that hard work pays off," Rose said. "So I'm watching them playing summer league a couple of times seeing them play with a lot of confidence, it just gave me confidence coming into this trial actually. But I think that we have a deep team, and we've got players that have one goal and we'll do anything to get there."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is excited about the possibilities of his team, but he also understands that the success of this group revolves around Rose, who is making his way back from two serious knee injuries.

"We're excited about our group," Thibodeau said. "I think the way [Joakim Noah] and [Taj Gibson] played last year is a huge plus. The addition of Pau [Gasol], getting a stretch 4 like [Nikola] Mirotic, picking up McDermott, [but] the biggest thing is Derrick. Obviously that's huge for our team and we can never lose sight of how important he is to our team."

That's why several members of the Bulls front office and training staff have been watching Rose work all week with Team USA. Forman watched Wednesday's practice and was very pleased with what he saw. Forman is hopeful that Rose can knock off a lot of the rust that hampered his game during his first comeback last season.

"I think it will help," Forman said, in regards to Rose having this experience with Team USA. "He's been playing 5-on-5 now for a couple of months. But to do it in this setting that's very structured, and to do it against the level of competition he's doing it against is a real plus. And I think it will be a plus for him going into camp in October, and obviously a plus for our team."

Rose has impressed seemingly everyone through three days of Team USA camp and is trying to take all the hype surrounding his return in stride.

"It feels good knowing that people see that I've been working my butt off," Rose said. "If anything, it's going to push me to keep working because I'm a hard worker. It feels good when your teammates hit you up or text you. Like Joakim's been texting me a lot saying how he's been hearing about how I've been playing, and it's pushing him to go into his rehab with his knee even tougher. So it goes a long way."

Rose said he got Gasol's number during the free-agency period and talked to him about coming to play in Chicago.

"I talked to him before he signed," Rose said. "And he said when we get to Spain that we can probably get something to eat so I'll probably catch up with him and get dinner or something. But if not I'll see him when he gets to Chicago."

The Minnesota Timberwolves were engaged in serious Kevin Love trade talks with no teams other than the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, adding to the growing belief around the NBA that Love teaming up with LeBron James is inevitable, sources have told

As has been the case for a week, the Cavaliers remain the front-runners to acquire Love in a trade co-headlined by No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins. However, sources this week have described the Cavs as the only team in contention for Love.

Those sources say the Chicago Bulls have become increasingly pessimistic about their chances of trumping Cleveland's offer, while the Golden State Warriors remained unwilling to bend on their longstanding refusal to surrender Klay Thompson in a deal for Love.

Wiggins is not eligible to be dealt until Aug. 23 after signing his rookie contract last week, but numerous league insiders -- some of whom are gathered in Las Vegas for this week's Team USA training camp -- have begun to describe a Love-to-Cleveland trade as a "when" transaction as opposed to an "if."

With three weeks to go until Wiggins is eligible to be swapped for Love, one source said Wednesday that James himself already is "looking forward" to the prospect of welcoming the All-Star power forward as his newest teammate.

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After 'dark period,' Rose strong, confident

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
Friedell By Nick Friedell

LAS VEGAS -- The praise for Derrick Rose's game and attitude continued on Wednesday during Day 3 of Team USA's camp.

In the brief portion of practice the media were able to view, Rose made a nice block in transition and showed no fear in driving to the rim on the offensive end. Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau -- an assistant to Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski -- loves to see that type of intensity from his point guard on both ends of the floor, and this characteristic has helped set Rose apart so far this week.

"I love the way he's playing right now," Thibodeau said. "Because he's showing a lot of patience, he's making good decisions, he's finding the rhythm of the game. I think when he plays like that, the game is easy for everybody.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

"My body's feeling good, and that's the only thing I'm worried about," Derrick Rose said after Day 3 of Team USA's camp.

"I think last year he may have been a little bit too anxious. He wanted to come back and do it all in one day. I think this has been … a much better approach. That's who Derrick is. I think he learns from every situation. The adversity, I think, has made him a lot stronger mentally."

Not forcing: Aside from the obvious fact that Rose's body has held up fine throughout the first three days of practice, Bulls personnel seem to be most pleased by Rose's in-game decision-making. They know he was trying to do too much in his first comeback last season, and they see that he has tried to take some pressure off himself this time around.

"I don't see him forcing anything," Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. "I see him kind of letting the game come to him -- and then, when he's got opportunities to make plays, he makes them. He's playing with, it appears to me, great confidence. And when there's an opportunity to make plays, he's making them and he's getting others involved. Defensively, he's been terrific."

Most interesting storyline of the day: The 25-year-old point guard admitted he hit his lowest point at the beginning of last season. He acknowledged he was putting too much pressure on himself and it was affecting his ability to enjoy the game.

"I felt like the first time I came back, I felt like it was damn near like a job instead of just going out there and having fun," he said. "When I came back last fall, I felt like it was a job. I wasn't smiling. I wasn't enjoying the game. I was trying not to mess up, and with me, I usually just go out there and play. Me playing at least is something good. But at the time, it was just too much going on, and I think that was just a dark side for me. Just a dark period of time."

In hindsight, Rose did look like he was pressing early on, but his words are telling. He seems to be enjoying himself much more now and appears to be at ease with his surroundings.

Motivating teammates: Rose has continuously talked this week about how he has been motivated by watching the effort his Bulls teammates continued to put in while Rose was on the shelf. He said he believes this Chicago team is the best one he's been a part of. He also noted Bulls center Joakim Noah has been texting him as more people check in about his comeback.

"I think this is the most talented team I've played on in my NBA career, to tell you the truth," Rose said. "With all the players that I have, with the experience that everybody's bringing to the table, and the way that everybody's working out individually during the offseason and what I've been hearing.

"Just seeing Tony Snell bust his ass in the gym the whole summer, seeing Doug [McDermott] come in and do the same thing, and they end up playing well, it kind of gave me a boost and let me know that hard work pays off.

"So I'm watching them playing summer league a couple of times, seeing them play with a lot of confidence, it just gave me confidence coming into this trial, actually. But I think that we have a deep team and we've got players that have one goal, and we'll do anything to get there."

The last word: Rose, while summing up the past three days:

"It's been excellent, man. It's been excellent. My body's feeling good, and that's the only thing I'm worried about. My mind is clear. I'm eating right, getting all the nutrition that I'm supposed to get, and getting rest, getting off my feet. I don't have family here; my son's not here, so they're not keeping me up all night. So I'm just happy to be here and happy that I have my friends here. They're giving me a lot of confidence and a lot of relief just being here."



Derrick Rose
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5