- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski has been a fan of Chicago Bulls star point guard Derrick Rose for a long time, so it should come as no surprise that the Hall of Fame coach is excited to see the former MVP back on the floor and is hopeful he will represent his country in the near future -- including the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
When asked specifically whether he would like to see Rose on the Olympic team, Krzyzewski said he was excited about the possibility, assuming the point guard's surgically repaired left knee holds up throughout this NBA season. Rose is just returning to the floor after missing almost a year and a half as he recovered from an ACL tear in his left knee.
"Oh yeah," Krzyzewski told ESPNChicago.com on Tuesday night. "There's a process that [USA Basketball chairman] Jerry Colangelo will orchestrate all that. But it's not just 2016; we have to play in Spain next summer. It used to be the world championships and now it will be called the World Cup. And Derrick was our starting point guard when we won the world championships in Istanbul in 2010 and did a really good job. He was only 21 years old at that time and probably would have been on our Olympic team in London."
Krzyzewski, the Duke coach and a Chicago native, said he has stayed in touch with Rose the past couple of years.
"I text him a little bit," Krzyzweski said. "He just celebrated his 25th birthday. I texted him then and I was glad to hear that he wants to be a part of [the team]. Hopefully this year, injury-wise, coming back from that [knee] injury, he'll get even stronger. And I think it will be good -- I want him to be on the [team], to be in the pool of players, and hopefully be on both teams, but I also want to give him the opportunity to see how the year goes for him because there's nothing more important than making sure his career is going in a very positive way, and we're always cognizant of that with the USA Basketball program."
Rose is looking forward to playing for Team USA, as well. He's hopeful he will get the opportunity to play on both the World Cup team this summer and the Olympic team in 2016.
"For sure I would love to play on the team," Rose said before Wednesday night's preseason game against the Detroit Pistons. "It would be an honor, but at the same time, it would take me trying out for the team and Coach K and his coaching staff, along with Thibs [Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau], with picking the players and allowing me to play for him. So if I have the opportunity to play for him, I will, but it's just going to take me trying out for the team."
The added bonus for Rose is that Thibodeau is now an assistant to Krzyzewski on Team USA's staff.
"It's going to be a little bit weird," Rose said of having Thibodeau on the Team USA staff. "But at the same time, it should be cool, and our relationship should grow with us being two of the leaders that's driving this team."
Thibodeau is taking a cautious approach regarding Rose's potential status on Team USA.
"I think it's an honor," Thibodeau said when asked whether he would like to see Rose play. "I think he had a great experience with that. I thought that experience when he came into the season in 2010, he hit the ground running. But the big thing is you don't want to get ahead of yourself. You want to see where he is at the end of the season -- if playing makes the most sense or getting rest. Coach K and Jerry Colangelo have done a great job of restoring the importance of USA Basketball. It means a lot. I know when we were out [in Las Vegas] with the select team, Kevin Durant came by, Kevin Love came by, and they've committed to playing. I think it's great because they're the future of our league, and I think they've all enjoyed their experience."
Krzyzewski said he agreed with Rose's decision to sit out last season, even after team doctors had cleared him to play, given that Rose's game is much different than most others in the league.
"Well, he's already done the proper thing," Krzyzewski said. "When he didn't come back towards the end of last year and Tom and his teammates were fully supportive of that because he can only play the game one way and that's what makes him special and that is at an elite level. You don't just start playing at the end of the year, especially with all the pressure of the playoffs, and try to do that without kind of easing your way back into it. So I think he's done it the right way, and I think he'll come back stronger than ever, and hopefully he'll have one of those All-Star years that he's had and is capable of having again."
7dEthan Sherwood Strauss