Derrick Rose 'explosive' in summer workouts

Derrick Rose may not be going to the Olympics next year, but he may be getting closer to reaching his own olympus, the place where he once ruled in the NBA.

“He looks like the old Derrick to me,” said Rob McClanaghan, Rose’s trainer, at the USA Basketball camp in Las Vegas. “Now having that full year (back playing), a good playoff run, everything, the mental stuff is back, too. I think everything has come together this summer more than last summer. He’s had momentum going into the summer unlike last year. Mentally, physically, he looks very good. There’s no reason he’s not going to have a good season.

“I worked out Derrick and Russell (Westbrook) together,” McClanaghan said Tuesday. “It’s amazing how competitive those guys are in workouts. Unlike many guys in this league, those guys together push each other. It was like getting back to predraft ’08. Like Russell said (of Rose), everything is back to where it used to be. Derrick’s timing is back and mentally he’s in a very good place.”

That’s good news for the NBA given the hardships for one of its great young stars and the 2011 league MVP. But even better news for Bulls fans, who are hoping to see the Rose of 2010 until the 2012 playoffs, the Rose who became one of the dominant figures in basketball and gave rise to realistic chances of the Bulls competing for a championship.

Those hopes and dreams were ripped away with Rose’s ACL tear in the first game of the 2012 playoffs. Since then it’s been a frustrating fix stitched full of stunted hopes, false starts and faltering finishes as the narrative regarding Rose was less how he played but whether he could play. Rose had to listen to three years of ‘Good morning’ becoming, “How do you feel?” But with a solid two playoff rounds after his minor meniscus surgery last season, the attention has shifted from the state of his health to the quality of his game.

All indications from McClanaghan, who also trains Westbrook, were that the two went explosive first step for explosive first step with no one backing down. Any Rose, Bulls and NBA fan will accept Rose being able to match Westbrook’s acceleration.

“Russell came in and worked with him,” noted McClanaghan. “The first really consistent (dual workouts) in a while and it was really good.”

Rose was expected to be at this USA camp that begins the selection process for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Rose has won gold medals with the 2010 and 2014 USA Basketball World Cup teams, though never an Olympic medal. But Rose after substantial consideration, according to associates, decided to skip the three-day camp, even with it’s non contact curriculum, to concentrate on his training and health. McClanaghan, who had clients like Westbrook at the camp, left Rose to his regimen back in Los Angeles. Rose also is leaving next week for a sponsor trip to China and apparently prefers the more serious efforts on his own with his precious training time.

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said Tuesday he understood any player having other considerations. But Colangelo issued his own edict that attendance at this camp was mandatory—if also symbolic in support of the program—for consideration in 2016.

“I’m really happy for him,” Colangelo said about Rose. “I’ve been disappointed in his injuries that prevented him from staying at a level that everyone had anticipated and he certainly wanted to be at. It was great to have him last summer in the World Cup. I look at it this way: All we can do is invite the guys; they have to make their own decisions based on their own circumstances. If they have contract issues or health issues or personal issues they have to deal with and don’t want to commit, that’s fine. I just wish him the best. That was his call (not to come); I accept that.

“I made it mandatory for anyone who wanted to be involved going forward they had to be here,” said Colangelo. “I have to stand by what I said.

“That’s equity (Rose has in participation with USA Basketball since 2007),” noted Colangelo. “That’s a big part of what we believe in. But when you look around and see 34 players here, they all have equity for the most part. They all have their own circumstances. They all knew that part of the process was to be here. Damian Lillard was another who chose not to be here. That’s fine; we can live with the fact people make decisions. The good news is we are not dependent at this point on any one or two players who might not come. There’s enough depth as evidenced by what you see here that we are going to compete.”

Of course, LeBron James and Paul George are making just token appearances for a few hours and with several other players not participating in the practices, which are just shooting drills, or Thursday scrimmage. Still, for now it’s the Colangelo Rules. Colangelo rules.

But Rose seems satisfied enough, said McClanaghan, returning to his previous form. McClanaghan said for the first time in four years Rose has returned to workouts five days a week without restrictions and is showing the confidence and flair in his game that has been mostly sidelined the last three to four years.

It’s been an almost unprecedented rise and fall for Rose from league phenomenon to forgotten. Rose played in 51 games last season, but that was more than the three previous seasons combined. This after Rose missed a total of six games his first three years in the NBA. Rose averaged 17.7 points and 4.9 assists in the 2014-15 regular season. But then in the playoffs, Rose raised those averages to 20.3 points and 6.5 assists while playing in all 12 playoff games (he’d played in one playoff game since 2011) while averaging 37.8 minutes per game in the playoffs with no physical setbacks. That’s apparently continued into his workouts in Los Angeles.

“It’s almost like it feels good because it’s back to the way it used to be,” said McClanaghan of working with Rose. “Going every day, five days a week. Getting in and getting back to what we did the first four years in the league. Feels good, actually, to do that and have a routine, talk trash and have fun. Not answer questions (about health). You know Derrick. He wants to come in and work, talk a little trash and work out and leave. It’s been fun for everybody to get back in that routine of the first four years.

“Pull up, jump shot, floater, his finishes, finishing at the rim; that’s a big thing he wanted to work on,” said McClanaghan of Rose’s off season priorities. “He wasn’t finishing like he wanted to. Change of speed stuff, getting back to that rhythm. We’re not going long, but we are going hard; very efficient workouts, a lot of reps.

“He’s coming along very well on (his shooting),” McClanaghan added. “It’s more getting that rhythm, a consistent summer. There was talk (of coming to Las Vegas). Right now he just wants to stay healthy and just be consistent with the workouts.

“The last few years have been sporadic, all the injuries,” noted McClanaghan. “Now he came out early July and will be there until (late) September. There have been restrictions (the last few years), limitations: ‘Let’s go two days a week,’ ‘let’s go 40 minutes.’ Now it’s, ‘Let’s go, let’s just work.’ It’s good to get back to the old days.”

The Bulls can only hope.