2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team Practice

Derrick Rose: “I’ve become a smarter player, but I’m mad it took me seven years to learn it.”

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LAS VEGAS — During one of the last scrimmages on the opening day of the Team USA training camp in Las Vegas, Derrick Rose brought the ball up, gave it up, quickly got it back and found himself open at the three-point line. Old Derrick Rose might have put that ball on the floor and gotten to the rim.

This Derrick Rose set his feet and knocked down the three.

It was just one snippet but was a nice example of what Rose says has changed about his game — it has matured.

“I’m able to control my body a little bit more, using my speed more, being smart with my speed rather than just running wild out there,” Rose said. “I’’ve become a smarter player, but I’m mad it took me seven years to learn it.”

Rose made one vintage Rose play at the Team USA scrimmage where he drew the contact, made the and-1 shot and hit the floor hard. But he’s not seeking contact like he used to on his drives.

“Trying to use a lot of floaters, a lot of pull-ups, stuff like that so you aren’t touched as much,” Rose said.

Rose added the last comeback taught him things about patience, something that he wants to apply on the court.

“I think when I came back last time I wanted it too bad. I was trying to force the game,” Rose said, having missed a full season then getting injured on a cut just six games into his return. “This time around I’m trying to let the game come to me, of course be aggressive at times, but be in control of the game and be smarter, and be able to run the team at the point guard position.”

Run a team that brings in Pau Gasol to pair with Joakim Noah, forming the best passing front court in the NBA.

“When you think about Gasol coming in, winning championships and bringing that experience to our team, him being around our bigs like Joakim and giving them advice and talking to them, I think that’s what we needed,” Rose said.

But right now he’s focused on Team USA. When USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked about this kind of setting being an ideal spot for Rose to slide back in he laughed.

“Any setting with Derrick in it is an ideal setting, when he’s healthy,” Krzyzewski said. “The ideal thing is he looks like he’s healthy and he’s put a lot of work in and he really wants it and we’re excited about him.”

Rose should make a Team USA roster that runs a lot of three guard sets and often uses guys pigeonholed as point guards in the NBA as two guards (and occasionally threes) working off the ball. Rose says he is good with that and would be willing to do some of that in Chicago.

“I can just shoot it, I can do a lot of catch-and-shoot, just running off floppy,” Rose said of a common NBA play most teams run that can free up a shooter for a quick shot. “Just trying to make the game easier and find ways to score, find ways to effect the game when I’m not scoring.”

Rose still has some Chicago fans to win back. After two years of injuries a guy those same people used to call tough gets another label. Krzyzewski just doesn’t get that at all.

“He’s one of the great people and one of the great players and to get multiple injuries like that can defeat anybody mentally. I don’t see that,” Krzyzewski said. “He should be applauded for what he’s doing. I’m a Chicago person and I’ve very happy he’s back, not just for Team USA but the Bulls.”

Report: Unless they trade for Jimmy Butler or Paul George, Celtics likely to keep main assets

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 26: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls and Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers chase down a loose ball at the United Center on December 26, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Celtics have been linked in trade talks to the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler and Pacers’ Paul George, but that requires the other team to deal with Boston. Indications are neither Chicago nor Indiana is particularly amenable.

So, time for the Celtics to pick another star to target?

Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:

With less than 24 hours until the NBA’s 3 p.m. trade deadline today, the Celtics were said to be still holding out hope that internal discussions within the Bulls and Pacers would lead to one or both making their best player available.

But short of that, the view from around the league is that the Celts are becoming more and more enamored with the idea of keeping their main assets and using the first-round draft pick they have coming from Brooklyn in June via a swap of positions. (They also have the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder unencumbered.)

Sources continued to say that, while there remains a chance things could change as the deadline draws nearer, Chicago and Indiana are more likely to retain Jimmy Butler and Paul George, respectively. Those All-Star talents have been the Celtics’ two main targets

This could just be the Celtics playing hardball — either through leaks to the media or through conversations with other teams that have trickled out. But Bulpett is well-connected, especially in Boston. This is more likely than most reports of this nature to be accurate, but it’s always difficult to break through the smokescreens this time of year.

The Nets’ upcoming first-rounder is extremely valuable, as they’ll likely finish with the NBA’s worst record. The Celtics could do far worse than keeping that pick.

But Boston’s top players — Isaiah Thomas (28) and Al Horford (30) — are already at ages where they can’t necessarily wait for a 2017 pick, even someone as talented at as Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, to develop. It makes sense to cash in chips now.

Still, the Celtics’ deep pool of assets mean the window isn’t closing yet. There should be no desperation to make a win now trade.

If Boston keeps its main assets — mainly the Nets picks — past the trade deadline, we’ll just revisit all this again in the summer.

Cavaliers sign forward Derrick Williams to second 10-day contract

Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Williams, right, drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers' Rodney Stuckey in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed forward Derrick Williams to a second 10-day contract.

The NBA champions have been impressed with Williams, a former No. 2 overall pick, and it’s likely they will sign him for the remainder of the season when his current contract expires. The Cavs announced Wednesday they signed Williams again. He has averaged 9.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 22 minutes for the Cavs, who have been bringing him off their bench with their second unit.

Before signing as a free agent with Cleveland on Feb. 9, Williams played for Miami this season before being released.

The Cavs returned from the All-Star break Wednesday and will practice before hosting the New York Knicks on Thursday, just a few hours after the trade deadline.

Hornets’ Miles Plumlee out at least two weeks with leg injury

Charlotte Hornets' Miles Plumlee (18) dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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The Hornets are essentially two different teams with and without Cody Zeller.

They’re 22-17 when he plays and 2-15 when he doesn’t. They play at a 62-win pace with him on the floor and a 29-win pace when he sits.

So, with Zeller banged up, Charlotte traded for Miles Plumee. But Plumlee hasn’t provided much, just 3.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game in five contests.

And now he’ll add even less.

Hornets release:

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that center Miles Plumlee underwent a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI), which revealed a second-degree calf strain in his right leg. Plumlee will be out for Charlotte’s game tomorrow at Detroit and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

The Hornets incurred significant long-term costs ($37.5 million over the next three years) to use Plumlee as a short-term bandage. Without him providing even that, this situation looks bleak.

Depending on Zeller’s health, this could turn Charlotte — 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position — into sellers before the trade deadline. At minimum, it makes the Hornets less likely to buy.

Report: Bulls pushing to trade for 76ers’ Jahlil Okafor

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 14: Jahlil Okafor #8 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks to pass against Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on December 14, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Bulls reportedly reached out to the 76ers about Jahlil Okafor a few weeks ago.

After unfulfilled intrigue and maybe a trade that fell through, Okafor remains in Philadelphia. And Chicago apparently still wants him.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

As constituted, the Bulls already have a few interior bigs: Robin Lopez, Taj Gibson and Cristiano Felicio. But one or more could go in an Okafor trade or another deal.

Okafor would make the Chicago younger, confusing its direction with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade already in place.

Perhaps, the Bulls are pushing for a trade only because they’re offering so little. Okafor’s low-post game offers intrigue. At the right price, he’d be worth adding, no matter the fit and direction presented.

Maybe the 76ers don’t go for a lowball offer, but that’d be worth trying considering their center logjam with Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. Otherwise, Chicago ought to tread carefully when pursuing Okafor.