Heads up, Killian Hayes: Derrick Rose is coming for you.
Nothing personal. In fact, you should view it as a measure of his respect for your future and empathy for what you’re facing – and also as a measure of trust in his regard for your ability.
Rose is going to give Hayes the full Derrick Rose experience in training camp, starting Sunday with the first team practice after five days of staggered individual workouts in adherence of NBA COVID-19 protocols. He’s passing on what he learned from the late, great Kobe Bryant when Rose was a newbie in the USA Basketball program going against the national team in preparation for one of its international tournaments.
“They’d pick us up full court, trap us, make us feel uncomfortable,” Rose recalled. “I’ve kind of got to do the same thing with him – make it uncomfortable for him so when he’s in the game, it feels normal. I’m not worried about him, but being an older guy, my job is to prep him.”
And if you’re wondering why new Pistons general manager Troy Weaver and Dwane Casey felt it important to hold on to Rose and Blake Griffin, another consummate professional, amid a roster makeover that has left only two other Pistons holdovers standing – Sekou Doumbouya and Svi Mykhailiuk – that’s why. A former MVP might not feel it’s his responsibility to tutor someone who is in line to challenge his minutes.
Rose isn’t throwing roadblocks in the path of Hayes, the No. 7 pick by the Pistons in last month’s NBA draft; he’s helping clear them so Hayes gets where the Pistons need him to be.
“I love his game,” Rose said. “It’s an honor to play with a talent like that. I told him, he was the future of the game. My job is to push him and to groom him. Coming from overseas, guys are going to try to play aggressive with him, so it’s my job to play aggressive on him throughout this whole camp so when he gets in a game he won’t feel that much pressure.”
Rose said he felt it wasn’t his place a season ago, as a first-year Piston, to take much of a leadership role. It’s different this time around, not just because it’s his second year but also because he’s one of the few returning players. And from a career achievement perspective, he’s at the front of the line, shoulder to shoulder with the team’s acknowledged leader, Griffin.
“I know when to give and I know when to take and right now my job is to try to help B.G. as one of the leaders and voicing my opinion,” he said. “Now I’ve got a year under my belt, so I should be able to say something. I’m not going to say something just off of what I did in the past. The past is the past. I’m just trying to take everything in and be appreciative of where I’m at and how far I made it in this league.”
In assessing the dizzying number of moves Weaver made in a week’s time – drafting four players after entering draft night with only one pick, swinging a handful of trades and reeling in four significant free agents – Rose sees a common thread.
“Troy, he’s getting pros,” Rose said. “That’s no knock on the people that were here. The guys he got in, they all seem like they’re hungry. We’ve got a good young team.”
The nine months-plus since Rose last played a game, he said, were beneficial on a number of fronts. It’s the longest he’s gone between games without having a rehabilitation as the cause of the layoff, so Rose said his body is “feeling great” and the time spent with family was to be cherished.
He sees the Pistons as in a similar spot to where Miami was recently, filled with young players with something to prove – with Rose and Griffin serving in the role Jimmy Butler filled in Miami.
“I look at that and I look at our team, we have the same thing,” he said. “We have a lot of young guys” that he and Griffin can lead. “It’s up to them how good they want to become. We’ll do as much as we can do to push them and set an example. We’re just blessed to have this much young blood in the locker room, basically everywhere, just feeding off their energy and creating synergy.”