Sam Smith: Olympics could be in Derrick Rose’s future

Rose will continue on his quest to be a part of the USA Basketball men's national team starting this week when USA Basketball is expected to confirm the identities of the top young players beginning something of the tryouts for the U.S. Olympic teams.
Sam Smith at

Olympics could be in Derrick Rose’s future

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Derrick Rose
"He got some experience," said USA Basketball board chairman Jerry Colangelo of Derrick Rose. "He's coming back. We think very highly of him and want him involved in the program." (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

Derrick Rose, Olympian 2012? Perhaps. Derrick Rose Olympian, 2016 when the games may be in Chicago? Now that would be fun.

Rose will continue on his quest to be a part of the USA Basketball men's national team starting this week when USA Basketball is expected to confirm the identities of the top young players beginning something of the tryouts for the U.S. Olympic teams.

"Rose is committed," said USA Basketball board chairman and poohbah Jerry Colangelo. "We're inviting 24 of the top young first and second year guys to the (July 22-25) mini camp in Las Vegas. It's all part of the pipeline and getting players indoctrinated into the whole process. Over the last four years a lot of positives have flowed from it and it has gone a long way toward encouraging guys to represent our country."

Colangelo's goal was the gold medal. And he succeeded. But, to me, the most impressive achievement of his leadership of the USA Basketball men's program was the restoration of pride in representing the country and participating in international events despite the time commitment and financial sacrifice. Once again, the best players want to be a part of it, which had waned in early 2000's.

"Derrick did participate last summer with the Select Team," noted Colangelo. "He got some experience. He's coming back. We think very highly of him and want him involved in the program. The way I see this playing out, to have credibility regarding the pipeline, there should be some turnover each (four years). Basically, we had a fairly young group, but there should be three, four, five changes to the Olympic team, for sure."

So, yes, there is the big question: Who plays for the U.S. in 2012? First, there's the World Championships in Istanbul in 2010. Colangelo talked with most of the members of the 2008 team at the All Star game in Phoenix and said he got a good response toward 2010. He said he expected six or eight from 2008 to participate in 2010, and likely that group will play for the U.S. in 2012 in London.

The team that wins the World Championships doesn't have to qualify in 2011, which the U.S. had to do in 2007 when it didn't win the 2006 World Championships. But this time Colangelo said he is holding open the possibility of fielding a team for 2011 in the Tournament of the Americas as something of a training ground for a future U.S. team and if unexpected openings develop on the team after 2010, assuming it wins. So much remains undecided.

The sense is probably eight players from the 2008 gold medal team will return: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams. Colangelo emphasized he gives equity to players who have participated and won for the U.S. and they have the preference because of what they already have invested. The likelihood because of age and declining ability, Carlos Boozer, Michael Redd, Tayshaun Prince and Jason Kidd are most likely not to return. Though nothing is set yet on who will play in 2010 and who won't.

With Kidd likely out as he'll be going on 38 then, Rose has a chance to capture that spot. Improving his defense will be a priority, though, not just with the Bulls. But with USA Basketball because the U.S. team was dedicated to defense.
Colangelo says he is seeking a two-year commitment, for 2010 and 2012, but added, "Everything I'm doing is fluid and flexibile." Colangelo noted that come 2016 it's likely that few if any from the 2008 team will be playing anymore and an entire new group will have to go forward. And Colangelo said from his view of the four cities competing for the 2016 games, he said he believes Chicago is the favorite.

NBA news & notes

-- I've been getting a lot of questions about this "Tweet," allegedly from Ohio State's B.J. Mullens, that he may have received a promise from the Bulls to be picked with their No. 16 selection. Mullens wrote: "ger ron tee in mj town look out 1 to 32 for slam dunk." From what I can tell about Twitter it mostly is about what you had for breakfast. I've also been told anyone can claim being anyone, so you never truly know if it's THE guy. But Mullens has been in to the Bulls and why say a guarantee at 16? Usually, you say if you received a lottery guarantee? So what's the deal? I have done substantial research on this and can assure everyone this is not true in any way: That the Bulls have made a guarantee to Mullens. This is not to say the Bulls will not select Mullens. They have interest in him. He's more than 7-1 in shoes and has NBA level center skills with good hands as an athlete who can catch and finish. Coming into the season, the freshman was regarded as a potential top five pick, but had an unimpressive year not starting. The playoffs have shown you cannot have enough big guys and it's not exactly a strength for the Bulls. But Mullens, young and with little play, is a long way off and not likely to help much for a few years. Is it worth waiting while having a team with some impatience for success after the nice first round playoff series? Yet, this isn't exactly a draft with a whole lot of starting or rotation players likely to be at No. 16. The Bulls have seen Mullens and I heard may see him again before the draft. I doubt they will be making any guarantees. Even about not trading the pick.

-- There's been some talk again about the NBA's rule that restricts a player until a year after his high school class graduates. A Tennessee congressman, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, wrote the NBA and the players' union requesting the 19-year-old rule be scrapped. Along the way Cohen, not exactly from the state known for America's highest academic standards, insulted Georgia Tech's Thaddeus Young in saying it's not like he was going to become an engineer. Young is from Cohen's district. Georgia Tech demanded an apology. I assume Cohen didn't mean the way it came out, though his comments do make a good point for congressman having to be at least 25 before being eligible for office. And that is the point not enough mention. There is no constitutional right to be in the NBA. Every business or profession has the right-and really, obligation-to set work rules. Accounts take CPA tests. Lawyers take the bar exam. The only profession I really know that has no standards is journalism, and we see what's happened there. It's simply too difficult to evaluate players with so little experience at such a young age. Certainly, you can with prodigies. But it doesn't help the quality of play to have younger players. It's not the NBA's responsibility to worry about the effect on the NCAA.

-- I do agree with Stan Van Gundy about the NCAA that it is "the worst organization going." It's what Van Gundy offered when talking about the 19-year-old rule. I also believe the NCAA policies are about to further lower Division I talent level to little better than what you may see at a high level community center game. One reason is in cases like with Derrick Rose the NCAA may be starting to chase the best players out of the game with its record of hypocrisy. Isn't it interesting that players from Memphis like Rose were cleared to play and then after they played and helped make the NCAA a fortune they are harassed and pursued? It's opening eyes of representatives of players and I've heard more agents saying they expect to attract more high school players to go to Europe. Former shoe company executive and prep guru Sonny Vaccaro was quoted last week saying prep phenom Jeremy Tyler, a 6-11 high school junior center, is close to a European deal like Brandon Jennings, who didn't play much in Europe but still will be a lottery pick. Some say Tyler could be the No. 1 pick in 2011. In other words, the NBA will find you and you still could make several hundred thousand dollars while waiting the year. The NBA's D-league should be an option, but players make maybe $30,000. Some agents I talked to say top players feel they'll make more from than that from high level colleges in allegedly illegal payments and jobs for family from boosters. Of course, economic factors will affect the ability of European teams to offer big deals. But it may not be a good time for big time college basketball.

-- It seemed like just another transaction as assistant coach Kenny Gattison was let go by the Hornets. He wasn't happy, telling the New Orleans Picayune: "This was not a mutual parting. In this economy, who would mutually agree to give up their job?" Yes, even in basketball. But cost cutting is becoming a trend and among the NBA victims are assistant coaches. When Dallas' Mark Cuban hired almost a dozen assistant coaches it became something of the rage and everyone began to expand staffs. Now the Mavs are zero titles later. So most teams are cutting staffs or not replacing assistants who leave and some are asking assistants to take pay cuts. ... Orlando's Rafer Alston was being picked up in a limo for home games, but Alston said it was not a diva thing. Alston told reporters his Florida license was suspended for speeding in New Jersey and not paying the fine. Alston said he also has drivers' licenses in Canada and California, but they are not recognized in Florida. ... Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was brutalized for supposedly being outcoached at the end of Game 4, especially with his failure to foul Derek Fisher. Van Gundy suggested it was no big surprise. He told reporters he was coached often at the Division II and III level and there are coaches at some of those schools right now who are saying (and) have got it in the back of their minds and looking at me and saying, 'You've got to be kidding me. (this guy has a pro job?)." And I thought we only said that about Tim Floyd.

-- Carlos Boozer said on the Jim Rome ESPN radio show he hasn't decided whether to opt out from his contract with more than $12 million remaining. He had said earlier this year he planned to opt out. Boozer supposedly had been indicating he has a free agent promise from Detroit or New Jersey. I've talked to a number of NBA executives about Boozer and several seemed to wonder why you'd make a huge financial commitment in this era to a player who missed maybe 40 percent of the games under his big deal with the Jazz and who made the Olympic team and was hardly played despite his college coach being the team coach. ... Speaking of free agents, I asked a general manager about Allen Iverson. His response was: "He may be the NBA's Barry Bonds." ... With Paul Westphal's hiring by the Kings there aren't anymore open jobs. But the talk lately has been several teams have sent feelers to Louisville's Rick Pitino. The belief among some in the NBA is with John Calipari with a big deal at the state university, Pitino might be ready for a new challenge. A rumor came up about him earlier this season, which he denied. ... The Pistons are said to be talking to the Thunder and one other team about Amir Johnson and No, 15 to clear additional salary cap room. The talk is the Pistons figure to bring back Antonio McDyess and need to make more moves to have enough salary cap space with a shrinking cap to make big offers to two free agents. It's uncertain, of course, as one general manager speculated with the collapse of the auto industry and the anticipated effect on the Pistons the team won't go for maximum type deals. I wouldn't be surprised if the guys the Pistons pursue are the Knicks' David Lee and maybe Utah's Paul Millsap. Joe Dumars' history is to pursue less coveted or smaller name guys like when he got Chauncey Billups for an exception deal, Ben Wallace when nobody knew who he was and Rasheed Wallace when no one wanted him.

-- With rumors since February of a Shaq deal to the Cavs, it heated up again last week with more rumors as everyone senses the Cavs' desperation to do something to show LeBron James he should not leave as a free agent after next season. It seems impossible with the declining salary cap that the Knicks will have the space to add James and another high level player, and it would be a setback to James' legacy and commitment to excellence to take a step backward with a lesser team for more attention. Still, no one is comfortable in Cleveland. Like in February when everyone but Danny Ferry assumed the Cavs would make that deal. It seems a no brainer for the Suns with Ben Wallace's expiring contract to save maybe $10 million. After all, what's the chances of Shaq having another high level season? And they missed the playoffs, anyway? Just as interesting was Steve Nash doing an NBA Finals segment for David Letterman last week and then on the set when telling Letterman he has a home in New York and Letterman saying why doesn't he come to New York, Nash quipping: "I'd love to. Can you work it out?" Could be just the quick reply on the spot. But the Knicks are said to believe Nash is the answer to running Mike D'Antoni's system and attracting James. Nash and the Suns plans will be something to also watch this summer.


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