Derrick Rose’s next games coming with Team USA rather than Chicago Bulls? Tom Thibodeau is on board

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The last summer Derrick Rose played for Team USA, he won a gold medal and then, in the ensuing NBA season, became the youngest MVP of all-time.

Coincidence?

Nope, says Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who also serves as a Team USA assistant.

Dave Zeitlin of CSNPhilly.com:

Chicago head coach and Team USA assistant Tom Thibodeau said that he “absolutely” would want Rose to play Team USA this summer in preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain from Aug. 30-Sept. 14.

“I thought it was a great experience for him before,” Thibodeau said. “I know he’d like to do it. I know how USA basketball feels about him. If he’s cleared to do it, I’d love to see him do it.”

“He’s doing fine,” Thibodeau said. “He’s doing a little more but he’s nowhere close to practicing. At this point, maybe he’ll go get a couple of practices at the end but we just want him to lock into rehab and make sure he’s 100 percent healthy.

“There’s a plan for him. It’s going to be step by step. When he masters one phase and we feel like it’s good enough, we’ll move onto the next. He’s moving along pretty much as planned, so we’ll see where he is in the summer.”

First, obviously, Rose must heal from his latest injury. But it’s interesting Thibodeau endorses Rose risking his health while playing for a team other than the Bulls. Not every NBA coach would feel the same way about his player.

Perhaps, Thibodeau’s logic is colored by Rose’s difficulty acclimating from his previous injury. After missing the entire 2012-13 season, Rose was extremely rough around the edges in the 10 games he played this season. He shot just 35.4 percent from the field and averaged 4.3 assists along with 3.4 turnovers per game. Maybe warming up with Team USA this summer would help Rose have a better fall this time around.

The Bulls can’t expect Rose to return in MVP form like in 2010, but if Team USA helps him play like a high-end start when next season begins, that would be a big victory for Chicago.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.