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Jimmy Butler named to USA Basketball roster

Butler will attend Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas next week

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By Sam Smith | 8.6.2015 | 4:30 p.m.

The fable that has become Jimmy Butler’s life continues to amaze as the homeless kid who wasn’t even an NBA starter two years ago became an NBA All-Star, a player with a maximum financial contract and now is on the roster for the USA Basketball national team.

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo announced Thursday the Bulls’ Butler among eight players being added to the roster of 34 to build a team for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Bulls teammate Derrick Rose, who won gold medals with the 2010 and 2014 USA Basketball World Cup/Championship teams, was not on the list and will not be attending.

Colangelo has said in recent weeks that attendance at this mini camp is mandatory for players wanting to play for the USA Basketball Summer Olympic team in 2016.

Rose has been working out in Los Angeles and apparently did not want to depart from his regimen of preparing for the 2015-16 NBA season. However, there are generally no absolutes regarding USA Basketball. If Rose were again to have an MVP-like season he presumably could be added to the team. Colangelo always has said extra consideration would be given to players who previously have participated with USA Basketball, that those players have built up equity with the program. In addition to the 2010 and 2014 teams, Rose was with USA Basketball for the 2007 Hoop Summit and 2009 USA Select Team, making Rose one of the most experienced and committed USA players in the NBA. Thus, as Colangelo has stated, Rose could have a reservoir of good will build up that would be taken into consideration. Butler was invited to play for the Select Team in 2014 but had to bow out with injury.

Rose was slated to play for USA Basketball in the 2012 Olympics when he sustained his ACL injury in April 2012. Thus there are extenuating circumstances regarding his participation and recovery, especially as this is the first summer for Rose since 2011 that he is not recuperating from an injury and is free to fully practice and prepare for the season without questions about a return from injury.

Rose finished the 2015 playoffs healthy averaging 20.3 points, 6.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds with a game winner in the conference semifinals against Cleveland. It was the first time Rose played more than one playoff game in four years. Rose also shot a respectable 35 percent on three pointers in the playoffs and 90 percent on free throws.

Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau remains an assistant with the USA team.

For Butler, it’s yet another addition to his arc of success that has carried him from Texas anonymity to sports stardom in Chicago, the NBA and perhaps around the world.

Butler had his breakout season in 2014-15 when he led the Bulls in scoring at 20 per game, 15th in the NBA. Butler also was 11th in the NBA in steals and first in average minutes per game. In the playoffs, Butler led the Bulls in scoring at 22.9 per game and led all NBA players in steals per game at 2.4 per game.

Butler has a good chance of making the team given the defensive component to his game as an all-defensive team player. The other principal shooting guards competing for a spot are Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan and Victor Oladipo. Of course, small forwards and shooting guards are often interchangeable positions. The point guards competing are Chris Paul, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Mike Conley and Michael Carter-Williams. A healthy Rose returning to MVP or near MVP-form would obviously be a strong choice since only Curry has ever been an MVP among the point guards and Paul will be past 31.

The Las Vegas camp roster of attendees includes 11 of the 12 members of the gold medal 2014 USA World Cup Team and nine Olympic gold medalists, including eight members of the 2012 London Olympic team. Though supposedly not because of the terrible injury to Paul George in the pre-World Cup camp last summer, this camp, nevertheless, is being promoted more as both a reunion for previous participants and light drills and workouts. There is an exhibition game Aug. 13 in the Thomas & Mack Center on the Las Vegas campus (9:30 p.m Central). But is being likened to the early parts of an NBA All-Star game with more show than competition.

LeBron James is returning to be with the team, though Colangelo said due to prior commitments James will only attend the team meeting Monday night and not participate in the Tuesday and Wednesday training or game Thursday. Though James has not committed to 2016. Thus that also suggests a route for Rose if he is inclined to return as there are many exceptions to USA Basketball “rules.”

Making his return after injury is Kevin Durant while previous Olympian Carmelo Anthony also joins the list. George returns after his serious injury from last year.

Previous USA National Team members attending include LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs); Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks); Bradley Beal and John Wall (Washington Wizards); DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings); Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans); DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors); Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons); Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder); Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets); Paul George (Indiana Pacers); Blake Griffin and Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers); James Harden (Houston Rockets); Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz); Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets); Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers); LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers); Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks); and Mason Plumlee (Portland Trail Blazers).

“With this being a summer where we do not have an official competition that we need to prepare for, this year’s minicamp is an opportunity to continue and expand the brotherhood and camaraderie that has been built,” Colangelo said in a USA Basketball press release. “It will be a celebration of all that we’ve accomplished with USA Basketball since the National Team program was formed in 2006 while also looking ahead to 2016. The minicamp is going to be low key with light workouts, no contact, and the USA Basketball Showcase on Aug. 13 will be a fun all-star type game. We recognize and understand that some of our players’ availability to participate is still up in the air. Some players are coming off of injuries and are not yet ready to actively participate, or they are getting ready for their NBA seasons. So, it’s a good thing that we don’t have a competition to get ready for this summer.

“We’re also excited about the eight players who have been added to the National Team roster. Seven of the players have been involved in past national team training camps or have participated in past camps as a member of our select teams. All of them enjoyed outstanding NBA seasons in 2014-15 and have been on our radar for a while,” added Colangelo.

The coaching staff includes Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski, who has said the 2016 games will be his last as USA head coach. Assistant coaches are Thibodeau, Jim Boeheim and Monty Williams.