Rose: Bulls 'contender' to win East
"I think we have a contender," Rose said after Team USA's first practice Monday. "I wouldn't say ... (people) were saying put us at the top of the East or whatever, but we have a contender team. We know as a team what we were trying to do. We all have one goal. And individually, this whole summer I think everybody worked on their games, and everybody's trying to compete for that title next year."
Rose, who is trying to work his way back from a torn meniscus in his right knee that cost him all but 10 games of the past season, is confident in the direction the Bulls chose to go after missing out on New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. But he did say missing out on Anthony was tough.
"Who wouldn't be disappointed?" Rose said. "But at the same time you can't get mad with the decision he made. If you put yourself in that position, that's a hard decision. You've got your family to think about, you've got money to think about. Not to say that you shouldn't think about money, but when you're talking about millions and millions of dollars, you can't just put that behind you. So I'm not mad about the decision that he made, and I wish him nothing but the best."
Anthony spent the first day of free agency being recruited by the Bulls in Chicago. Rose said his message to Anthony during that time was simple.
"That if he was to come that the game would be easy," Rose said of his pitch to Anthony. "I don't know how easy, but of course it would be easy, and that we wanted him. Just plain and simple, we wanted him. We wanted him to come, [and] he decided to go somewhere else, but it's no hard feelings. I can't get mad at him with the decision that he made. He's a grown man."
After Anthony opted to stay in New York, the Bulls signed veteran power forward Pau Gasol, European star Nikola Mirotic and veteran guard Aaron Brooks. They were all moves Rose seemd to be excited about.
"Great," he said of the additions. "When you think about Gasol, him winning championships and bringing the experience to our team and him being around our bigs like Joakim (Noah), talking to them, giving them advice -- I think that's all we needed. And you add Aaron Brooks, Jimmy (Butler) coming in all in the mix, so many people, (Doug) McDermott ... I think we're going to be a contender, a strong contender."
"I can't think about that right now," Rose said. "That's up to the front office. I'm riding with whatever decision they make. My job right now is just to prepare for this and just try to keep my body healthy."
Many NBA pundits have surmised from the Bulls' offseason moves that they are trying to create a deep and talented squad much like what the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs has developed over the past decade and a half. Rose and his teammates are respectful of the Spurs but know that kind of success is difficult to replicate.
"I wouldn't say we're trying to copy the Spurs," he said. "It's kind of hard to copy that because they're just a great team. But if we could get close to it -- if we could just find ways to win a game our way, I think that we'll be fine, and with the coaching staff that we have, and Thibs, he found ways to win. It's really, with the players, how bad do we want it to win the games?"