Jerry Colangelo confirms: Derrick Rose won’t represent Team USA in 2016 Olympics

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What if Derrick Rose plays this season like 2010-11, when he won MVP?

Russell Westbrook indicates it’s possible.

Could the Bulls star – despite skipping this week’s minicamp, which USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo deemed mandatory for Olympic inclusion – make the 2016 Olympic team?

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo confirmed Derrick Rose, who opted out of this week’s minicamp, won’t be on the 2016 Olympic team.

“I made it mandatory for anyone to be involved going forward they had to be here,” Colangelo said. “I have to stand by what I said.”

“I’ve been a big Derrick fan. I was really happy for him when he joined us originally,” Colangelo said. “I’ve been disappointed in his injuries that have prevented him from staying at a level that everyone had anticipated and he certainly wanted to be at. But I respect his decision.”

Rose started for Team USA’s gold-medal squad in the 2010 World Championships. He also struggled through the 2014 World Cup as he recovered from injury, again winning gold. That apparently hasn’t gotten Rose the same leeway Kobe Bryant – with two Olympic gold medals – is receiving from Colangelo.

To be fair, Rose has already gotten plenty from USA Basketball. He didn’t earn a roster spot for last year’s World Cup by outperforming the competition. He used the tournament to prepare for the NBA season, and many think then-Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau being a Team USA assistant helped secure Rose’s inclusion. Chicago firing Thibodeau might have pushed Rose away from Team USA for a number of reasons, including the belief it would be more difficult to make the Olympic cut without a close backer on the American coaching staff. Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and John Wall are a strong group of point guards.

On a simpler level, Rose surely considered the need for more rest after his multiple serious injuries. He might have decided, no matter how he plays next season, he doesn’t want to push it with the Olympics.

But let’s say everything breaks toward Rose deserving an Olympic roster spot. He’s healthy, productive and wants to play. Other elite point guards, for whatever reason, don’t want to go to Rio. Would Colangelo really choose Mike Conley or Michael Cater-Williams over a fully healthy Rose just because they spent a few days in Las Vegas this summer?

I would have guessed no – and still believe it’s possible Colangelo reverses course. This minicamp is as mandatory as he wants it to be.

But Colangelo might be too prideful to contradict these public statements. If he thought there was a realistic possibility Rose could make the Olympic team, Colangelo wouldn’t have set such a clear and firm line.

In the end, it probably won’t matter. It’s unlikely Rose regains enough athleticism to play like an MVP. It’s unlikely enough of the several top point guards ahead of him bow out.

But it’s also not impossible for those things to happen, and if they do, what will Colangelo do?

After Thunder win, Russell Westbrook trolls Joel Embiid, waves goodbye, tells him to “go home”

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Joel Embiid was making friends all over the court on Friday night.

First, he got into a jawing match with Carmelo Anthony. Also during the first overtime, Embiid blocked Russell Westbrook‘s driving attempt at a game winner.

After the Thunder won in triple overtime, Westbrook trolled Embiid by waving goodbye to the Sixers’ center, who was yelling back at him.

When asked about it, Westbrook said Embiid was talking a lot so he told the Sixers center to go home.

That can have some serious connotations — Embiid was born in Cameroon. Westbrook may have meant “go to the locker room” or “go to where you live,” but considering Embiid is an immigrant it comes off very poorly for Westbrook.

Embiid threw a little fire back at Westbrook.

The league office is going to be looking into this one.

DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t expect Pelicans to trade him at the deadline

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The New Orleans Pelicans have a decision to make as they approach the trade deadline: Do they think they can re-sign DeMarcus Cousins next summer to stay in the Big Easy with Anthony Davis?

If the answer is no, then they have to consider trading Cousins at the deadline to at least get something back. There is a lot of context, however, that makes this seeming binary trade/keep decision far more complicated.

Cousins himself doesn’t think he is going anywhere, as he told Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

While the Pelicans have a lot to consider with the unrestricted free agent, Cousins says he is confident that he will still be playing for New Orleans after the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

“I am confident in my team,” Cousins said. “I am starting to understand this business a lot more than I did before. You can kind of tell when things are about to come about. We’re a very competitive team. A talented team. I don’t think that will be the case at all….

“A.D. hits me with little jabs about free agency all the time, but he also understands,” Cousins said. “It was Jrue in that situation last [offseason], and we understood his situation. Of course, they throw their little jabs. They throw their little jokes. But they are serious at the same time. They are respectful about it at the same time.

The Pelicans are 15-14 and the seven seed in the West entering Friday night’s games, and if New Orleans has a shot at the playoffs come the deadline there is no way he gets moved. Ownership and management want a playoff appearance. They have greenlit adding one of the game’s top centers (Cousins) to go next to Davis, and last summer they paid big to keep Jrue Holiday at the point in New Orleans. If the Pelicans don’t make the playoffs (and possibly even if they do squeak in and get swept out in an ugly fashion), everyone in the organization expects a housecleaning. They have been on edge all season. With jobs on the line, they are not trading Cousins and getting worse short term even if you could argue it was the right basketball move long term.

Will Cousins re-sign with the Pelicans next summer? That will be about the money — what the Pelicans offer, and what other teams will offer in what is expected to be a tight free agent market, especially for centers.  DeAndre Jordan will be on the market as well, not to mention second-tier guys who will be more affordable for teams such as Brook Lopez. In that market, Cousins may want to stay where he likes his teammates and seems happy.

But first he has to get past the trade deadline.

Joel Embiid scores over Carmelo Anthony, then they exchange words (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid gives zero… well, you know where I’m going with that.

Embiid trolls the world and backs down from no man, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Late in the fourth quarter of the barn burner between the Thunder and 76ers Friday night, Embiid backed ‘Melo down and scored over him, then did a little jawing — which Anthony didn’t appreciate.

I love that Embiid egged on the Sixers crowd after this. He knows his audience. After the game he said this.

Embiid talks a lot — A LOT — but he is backing it up.

For example, in the first overtime Russell Westbrook thought he made a drive that was going to win the game, and Embiid rejected him.

If you did not watch this game, go find a replay. This is the new best game of the season.

Rudy Gobert leaves game vs. Celtics with likely knee sprain. Again.

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Rudy Gobert missed 11 games this season due to a bone bruise in his knee. While the Jazz defense suffered as should have been expected with their anchor gone, their offense found a groove without him — and with more Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors — resulting in Utah going 7-4 with their star center out.

Now the Jazz will be without him again for a while — he seems to have sprained his left knee just minutes into Friday night’s game against the Celtics when Favors fell back into him. That is the same knee he injured before. Gobert was forced to leave and will not return to the game.

If that diagnosis holds, it will be weeks again the Jazz will be without Gobert.

The Jazz know how to play without Gobert. Favors moves to center and while he’s not near the same defender his offensive skills got them buckets and opened up the floor. The rookie Mitchell, as well as Ricky Rubio at points, took advantage of it to give the Jazz a top-10 offense with Gobert out. They need to find that groove again.

Still, Utah needs Gobert back and himself to really reach the heights they are capable of.