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Derrick Rose needs USA Basketball

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose works out before an NBA basketball game between Bulls AtlantHawks Tuesday Feb. 11 2014 Chicago.

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose works out before an NBA basketball game between the Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/charlie arbogast) ORG XMIT: CXA101

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Updated: March 20, 2014 10:04AM



PHILADELPHIA — Ten games in 913 days.

Think about that.

Derrick Rose will have had only 10 games against NBA-caliber talent in 2 1/2 years when he steps back on the court for the 2014-15 season.

That’s why he needs USA Basketball more than USA Basketball needs him.

“[Rose is] doing fine,’’ Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Wednesday. ‘‘He’s doing a little bit more, but he’s nowhere near practicing. At this point, maybe he’ll get a couple of practices at the end [of the season], but we just want him to lock into the rehab and make sure he’s 100 percent healthy.’’

For the start of the season?

No.

To get Rose up and running for what could be the most important offseason of his career.

As part of USA Basketball’s 28-player pool, Rose would be competing against the NBA’s best this summer. USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and chairman Jerry Colangelo will be choosing 12-man rosters for the World Cup in Spain in late August and September and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Rose and Thibodeau want to make sure he’s healthy and able to participate in the ultimate summer-school session.

The last time Rose played for USA Basketball, he came out with a newfound swagger, which led to an eventual regular-season MVP trophy for the 2010-11 season.

More important, with Rose publicly dismissing pickup basketball in the offseason, this would serve as the perfect vehicle to show that his knee woes are a distant memory.

“Yeah, there’s a plan for him, and it’s going to be step-by-step, so when he masters one phase and we feel it’s good enough, he’ll move on to the next,’’ Thibodeau said. “We’ll see where he is in the summer.’’

Krzyzewski has said several times that Rose would be welcomed with open arms.

“Oh, absolutely,’’ Thibodeau said when asked if he wants to see Rose play this summer, “if he’s healthy and he’s cleared. I thought it was a great experience for him before. I know he’d like to do it. I know how USA Basketball feels about him. So if he’s cleared to do it, I’d love to see him do it.’’

It doesn’t hurt that Thibodeau is an assistant on the team and can keep an eye on Rose on a daily basis.

“The thing I have a lot of respect for — and [Colangelo] and [Krzyzewski] have both said this — is they’re never going to put a player in harm’s way,’’ Thibodeau said. “So if a team doesn’t feel it’s in the best interest of the player, they’re not going to put pressure on the player to play. They’re always going to do what’s best for the player.’’

But if Rose plays, is it best for the Bulls? That’s the question that a growing number of Rose critics will be asking.

But it’s a question that carries little weight in the big picture. Rose needs court time. Period. With his place in the NBA hierarchy in question because of two iffy knees, Rose could use the competition against Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard to see where he stands.

This is a case in which the red, white and blue outweighs the green.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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