For as gritty and gutsy as the Chicago Bulls have been without Derrick Rose in the lineup—clawing all the way to the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference—fans of the franchise want nothing more than their star point guard back happy and healthy.
According to Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago, coach Tom Thibodeau hopes part of Rose’s recovery regimen involves suiting up for his country: "If he's healthy and he's cleared -- like I thought it was a great experience for him before [in 2010]. I know he'd like to do it. I know how USA Basketball feels about him. If he's cleared to do it, I'd love to see him do it."
“It” referring to the World Cup of Basketball, slated to be held in Spain this summer.
While y’all are cracking wise about Thibs not caring how many minutes his star player logs on account of coach routinely playing his starters until they evaporate, consider for a moment that this might actually be a sound training strategy.
This isn’t the Olympics we’re talking about, after all. Yes, Team USA will be the prohibitive favorite. But that need not mean Rose has to log, like, all 40 minutes of every game. Even if he’s tasked with a reserve role, the accelerant this level of competition could provide is virtually unparalleled.
In short: This could be a boon, not only for Rose, but for the Bulls, who most assume will start next season mostly intact.
And if Thibodeau’s vote of confidence is any indication, Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski won’t be giving Rose the green light unless the Chicago brass already has:
The thing that I have a lot of respect for, and Jerry [Colangelo] and Mike [D’Antoni] have both said this, is they're never going to put a player in harm's way. So if a team doesn't feel it's in the best interest of the player, they're not going to put pressure on a player to play.
Of course, this might all be moot if, as the Associated Press reported back in December, Rose returns before the end of the season. Via Fox Sports:
"The superstar point guard left the door slightly open for a comeback in the playoffs if his surgically repaired right knee is healed — even though the team has said he will miss the rest of the year."
Whatever Rose’s ultimate timetable, I think we can all agree that—for the good of the league and highlight reels everywhere—the NBA is a better place when Rose is playing.