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Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose tried to erase any lingering doubts about his readiness to play when he told reporters in Madrid that he will "definitely" play in the preseason opener.
"I should be able to play in the first game of the season," Rose told reporters at an adidas event in Spain, according to HoopsHype.com. "I know I'm anxious right now to play. My health is everything right now, it's 100 percent. But right now, the first game ... I will definitely be playing it."
The NBA hasn't yet released official preseason schedules so it is unclear who the Bulls will be playing in their exhibition opener.
Rose was criticized some, both locally and by national broadcasters, during the playoffs for not suiting up at all last season following offseason surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
On his European tour to promote his adidas clothing line and shoes, Rose confirmed he's ready to go, mentally and physically, and credited Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau for helping him prepare for next season.
"[Mentally] I'm just strong as I've been," Rose told reporters in Spain. "I had the time to think about what's important in my life, getting better on the court, watching a lot of film with [Thibodeau], asking him questions, talking to him about two times a week. ... So he's been kind of a professor to me."
I should be able to play in the first game of the season. I know I'm anxious right now to play. My health is everything right now, it's 100 percent. But right now, the first game ... I will definitely be playing it.” -- Derrick Rose
Thibodeau has voiced his support for Rose, telling ESPNChicago in June: "It was a smart decision to wait. If you're not quite sure, and you're going to err, err on the side of caution. That's what he did. And now he feels great."
In their third preseason game, meanwhile, the Bulls will play the Washington Wizards in Rio de Janeiro on Oct. 12, the first NBA game to be played in the city. Rose called it "a big game not only for the Bulls but for the NBA."
There was confusion regarding Rose's status and health throughout the Bulls' season, which ended in the second round of the playoffs with a loss to the eventual champion Miami Heat. Rose rarely spoke to local reporters during the season and the team only offered vague updates, leading to reports that there was tension between Rose's handlers and the Bulls.
His health and happiness was the biggest story last season and continues to be so as the Bulls try to compete with Miami, Indiana and Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference.
During his lost season, Bulls teammates told reporters that Rose was very vocal with them during games, giving tips and instructions. Rose said that has continued in the offseason.
"This next season is huge for us," Rose said. "We're definitely a contender for the title this year. I've been talking to my guys, trying to be more vocal as a leader, just texting them, calling them, just trying to communicate with them to let them know that I will be there next year."