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Derrick Rose looks to have locked up spot on Team USA

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Updated: September 1, 2014 8:10AM

LAS VEGAS — Whether ­Derrick Rose will make Team USA no longer is in question.

Considering the damage he has inflicted on opposing guards ­during the first three days of tryouts, it’s more about when it will be made official.

Rose all but did on Wednesday. Well, kind of.

In discussing new Bulls teammate Pau Gasol, who was signed as a free agent earlier in the month, Rose mistakenly said, “I talked to [Gasol] before he signed and he said when we get to Spain [for next month’s FIBA Cup] that we’ll probably get something to eat, so I’ll probably catch up with him, get dinner or something.’’

Call it Rose already knowing something or just having flat-out confidence in his ability.

Go with the latter, because if there is one thing Rose is not lacking these days it’s confidence. Admittedly, his self-assurance is a far cry from where it was last year.

For the first time since suffering the tear of the left anterior cruciate ligament, Rose said that his attitude about basketball going into the 2013-14 season was not good. And while he only lasted just 10 games into the regular season before a torn right meniscus derailed his comeback, it’s an attitude he doesn’t want to experience again.

“Looking back at it, the first time I came back, I felt it was damn-near like a job, instead of just going out there and having fun,’’ Rose said. “When I came back last fall, I felt like it was a job. I wasn’t smiling, I wasn’t enjoying the game, I was trying not to mess up. With me, I usually just go out and play, and me playing at least is something good. But at the time, it was just too much going on. That was just a dark side for me, a dark period of time.’’

Rose said the second injury made him appreciate what he had and what he was missing.

Then to see what the Bulls’ front office did this offseason, well, that smile is coming a lot easier.

“I have that sense that [the front office] went for it,’’ Rose said. “They gave it their all, we got who we could get, who wanted to come. That’s who we have to ride with.

“This [Bulls team will be] the most talented team I’ve played on in my NBA career, to tell you the truth.’’

Who knows if this current squad is even finished? General manager Gar Forman addressed the rumors, admitting that “There’s always some talk. We’re always going to try to talk to people around the league and get a feel for what’s going on in the market. If there are opportunities, we’ll look at them. With that said, we really like the group we have and we look forward to getting going in October with that group.’’

An important component is a healthy and happier Rose.

“He has been terrific,’’ Forman said of Rose’s week so far. “He looks strong. He looks confident. He looks explosive. “It’s been really, ­really encouraging.’’


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