"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]."
"He looked the same as I said [Wednesday]," Durant said. "Great."
"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."
"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 was 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."
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.
One new guy who likely isn't headed to Chicago is Minnesota Timberwolves big man Kevin Love. ESPN.com 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."
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 to 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.
"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 looking 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.
"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 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."
“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.
People forget how young he is. Look at him, he was the MVP (at 21). 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
"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 never doubted 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 now 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.
"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."
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 ESPN.com.
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.
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.
"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.
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."
LAS VEGAS -- Derrick Rose's basketball resurgence continued Wednesday as the former MVP opened more eyes during Day 3 of Team USA's training camp.
Rose, who has played in just 10 games over the past two seasons because of two serious knee injuries, has been drawing praise from all corners of USA Basketball for the speed and explosiveness he has regained since tearing the meniscus in his right knee Nov. 22.
Rose's college coach at Memphis, John Calipari, said Wednesday that his former player told him he was on a "mission" to get back to the top of the basketball world.
"Injuries, no one wants to go through that, but they do one of two things," Calipari told ESPNChicago.com. "They make you stronger or they break you down, and it's pretty obvious what it's done to him. ... I said (to him), 'You look great. Your explosiveness is even maybe beyond where it was, which is scary.' And I said, 'You're doing great.'
"He said: 'I'm on a mission.' "
Rose's confidence is buoyed by the fact that the 25-year-old has spent countless hours in the gym over the past two seasons getting his body back in order. He said he is taking better care of his body now than at any other point during his career and is motivated by the fact that so many people are doubting whether he can return to an elite level.
"And that's how he is," Calipari said. "That's why he's a great teammate. That's why players want to play with him. Everybody wanted him to come back on their own timetable, but they can joke about it and say what they want. When you look at him now, he did the right thing for himself and [the Chicago Bulls]."
Rose's progression has been the talk of Team USA's camp with players and coaches raving about how well he has performed after being out for so long.
"He looks better," Indiana Pacers
The Chicago Bulls star must prove to himself -- and the rest of the basketball world -- that his body can withstand the grind of a long NBA season. He knows that plenty of people are doubting whether this can happen, but he is ready to embark on the long journey because he is confident he can't do any more to prepare his body for what is to come.
Rose understands that after missing most of the past three seasons, and playing in just 10 games in the past two seasons, he is going to have some tough days. His teammates and coaches have raved about his performance during the first two days of Team USA camp, but the 25-year-old Rose knows that every day will be different. That's the reason why he's trying to stay even-keeled about the expectations surrounding him.
"But getting through them down days, that's what going to make me a stronger player I think," he said. "I can't be down on it, just like (Monday). Yesterday is yesterday and today is in the past now, too. I got to look forward to what we got going on tonight, I got to get acupuncture, I got to get a massage. (Wednesday) I've got a practice and it starts all over again."
Every step Rose takes on the floor this week in Las Vegas is being watched carefully by Bulls personnel. Bulls' Director of Sports Performance Jen Swanson is in town to work with Rose. Bulls executive VP John Paxson was on hand Monday to check on Rose during Team USA's first practice. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who also serves as an assistant coach for Team USA, is constantly checking on his star player during practices to make sure he's feeling OK.
The Bulls are doing everything they can to protect Rose from another injury which makes the physical and mental preparation beforehand even more important. But even Rose acknowledged that when those rough days eventually come, it likely will be because of something that he's dealing with physically instead of what he accomplishes on the floor.
LAS VEGAS -- Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose says his confidence is "through the roof," and he's looking forward to proving his doubters wrong this season as he tries to make his way back from two serious knee injuries.
Rose, who has played just 10 games in the past two seasons because of a torn ACL in his left knee in April 2012 and a torn meniscus in his right knee in November 2013, is confident he will return to being the player he was before the injuries.
He is in Team USA's training camp this week as the group prepares for the World Cup of Basketball in late August in Spain.
"I'm there, man," Rose said, when asked how close he is to playing like his old self. "I'm not worried about that. My confidence is very high, and that's the only thing you might see this year -- that my confidence level is through the roof."
Rose, who hasn't played in an NBA game since Nov. 22, said he felt no pain in his knee during Team USA's first practice on Monday. Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski said there were no restrictions on Rose, and he was very pleased with what he saw.
"To be honest, I get asked about it," he said. "I don't really ask anyone. I try and stay off Twitter, and I think a lot of people ask me, text me, some of my friends, but I just ignore it, and whatever happens, happens."
The speculation regarding McDermott's future intensified after his stellar performance in the Vegas Summer League earlier this month when he averaged 18 points a game and showed his shooting range. But the 22-year-old McDermott is trying to take all the talk in stride.
"I didn't really pay attention to it much," he said. "I think rumors happen a lot. There's been a lot this offseason. So you just got to stay patient, you can't really read into that stuff. I'm just focused on what I can do to become better."
What that means is that McDermott will continue to make a bigger name for himself by doing what he did throughout college: knock down jumpers. His close friend and fellow Creighton alumnus Kyle Korver believes McDermott is mature enough to handle anything that's thrown at him.
"He takes the game very serious," Korver said. "He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He plays with an edge. He wants to be really good, and he's going to work for it. He doesn't just want it. He wants to work for it. He's got a great skill set, obviously, in how he can shoot and how he sees the floor. He dealt with every kind of defense [in college]. He's been prepared for the NBA in so many ways just in how he was guarded all the time, the pressure that was on him in Omaha at Creighton. He's a younger guy, but emotionally he's very mature."
McDermott is just trying to enjoy the experience of playing with some of the best players in the game this week in Vegas.
"It's definitely a challenge, but it can only help a guy like me who's getting his NBA career started," McDermott said.
Less than 24 hours later, Krzyzewski had seen enough of Rose to know he can count on the former MVP, who, along with Durant, James Harden and Anthony Davis, is one of the few players on the roster with significant, competitive Team USA experience now that Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook have withdrawn.
"He's found himself," Krzyzewski said Tuesday. "I think the main thing for Derrick leadership-wise is to be Derrick. And then he'll flow into what he's doing. Guys look up to Derrick because they know the last couple years what he's been through. And then when they see him playing like he is right now, you get the respect of everybody but also a lot of confidence in playing with him."
Just four short years ago, Rose's name was being mentioned as one of the faces of USA Basketball. After all the ups and downs his career has taken since then, a leadership role on his national team is something he is embracing.
"For sure," Rose said. "I think that's going to help me next year with our team with the Bulls. Being more vocal, talking to the guys, just inspiring guys when I'm on the court. I don't talk as much, but when I talk, guys listen a little bit, so I'm starting to pay attention to that and use that in a way to change the game."
Rose's ability to lead on the floor without having to say as much has impressed Durant for years. The Oklahoma City Thunder star has always respected Rose's approach to the game and believes his teammate is better than he was during the 2010 world championships when Rose started all nine games, averaging a team-high 3.2 assists as Team USA won the gold, its first since 1994.
"Different guys lead different ways," Durant said. "Derrick is not like a 'rah-rah' type of player, screaming in guys' faces [or] yelling. But he leads by example by how hard he plays, how much he cares. He'll be vocal here and there, but you could tell when it's time to go, he's going to be ready. It's great to play alongside him."
Krzyzewski seems to relish the chance to coach Rose. He has beamed with pride while discussing Rose's game over the past couple of days, and he knows he has a role in helping Rose return to form on the floor.
So how does Krzyzewski help Rose find himself?
"You try to help him to not overplay him," Krzyzewski said. "In other words, not minutes, but give him the freedom to follow his instincts. Derrick has great instincts, and you don't want to play defense on him by making him just a half-court player or calling out plays and stuff. You still want to do part of that, but you also want to let him go, and that's what we're trying to do. That's what I told him, don't be perfect. You don't have to perfect. Just play, follow your instincts. He wants to please so badly. I love Derrick. I loved coaching him in , and we have a great relationship. And he's been fabulous in these two days, which is a big pick-me-up for our squad."
Rose has tried to brush off some of the praise coming his way, but it's evident in the glowing reviews he continues to get from his peers that he is at the forefront of Team USA's plans. Those closest to him just want to make sure he isn't putting too much pressure on himself on and off the floor.
"I think that's the biggest challenge for him is just showing more patience and finding the rhythm of the game," Bulls head coach and Team USA assistant Tom Thibodeau said. "When he does that, the game is a lot easier, and that's the way we really want him to play, and I think he has the benefit of having gone through coming back last year. And so I think he learned from that. I think he's better prepared this time around. His body looks great, and he says he feels great. So you just keep going day by day."
That's music to Krzyzewski's ears. He isn't shocked by the fact that Rose has returned to form so quickly. He's just hoping that Rose can take the next step in his leadership development as well.
"I don't know [if I'd say] surprised. Happy," Krzyzewski said of Rose's play. "Very pleased. Nothing that he does will ever surprise me because he's one of the elite players, and he's a fabulous kid. Not a good kid. He's a fabulous young man. ... He's a fabulous guy. A team player."