Author: Kurt Helin

Tom Thibodeau, Derrick Rose

Thibodeau calls Team USA “perfect setting” for Derrick Rose to make return


After two seasons of injury, there seems to be a lot people in Chicago that want to wrap Derrick Rose in bubble wrap until the season. Maybe until the playoffs. Just pack him away and keep him safe. (There’s also a group very down on Rose, but those people are too foolish to waste time on.)

But the only way Rose returns to anything near his MVP form is to get out and play.

Which is why Team USA always seemed a great setting to me — a high level of competition but with the talent around him (even after high profile injuries and defections) so the pressure to carry everyone is gone.

Bulls’ coach Tom Thibodeau said the same thing speaking to Sam Smith of

“This is the perfect setting for him,” enthused Thibodeau. “I thought his first (USA team) experience in 2010 was the springboard to his MVP season. All summer long he’s gotten more comfortable. He went through the comeback last year and I think he learned a lot from it. I love the way he’s playing. He’s finding the rhythm of game and playing to his strengths and recognizing who’s on the floor with him and what their strengths are. He made several good plays, particularly against the zone in the fourth quarter. He’s shaking some rust off, but his explosiveness is back. He’s playing well on both sides of the ball. I think he’s in a really good place. It’s unfortunate what he’s gone through. But I think that adversity has made him a lot stronger. It was really seeds of growth for him. I love where he is mentally and physically right now.

“It’s something he really wanted to do,” Thibodeau said of the USA experience for Rose. “It’s a chance for him to measure where he really is. He’s not carrying the burden of the entire team. For Derrick, there are so many positives. I think this will be great preparation for the season. We have a baseline and we know there’s a long way up. His attitude and approach are terrific and I think that will serve him well. I’m very pleased where he is now.”

Thibs should be pleased, Rose has been a standout from when camp opened.

Nobody knew where he was physically or mentally, but he has looked great, with Coach Mike Mike Krzyzewski being the lead cheerleader (and moving Rose into the starting lineup).

What’s been most impressive is a more mature game from Rose, he’s not just relying on that explosiveness he’s beating teams with his mind. Put him on the court with a high IQ, great passing bigs like Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, and you have the makings of a very good offense.

The Cavaliers are landing Kevin Love and may be the betting favorite to win the East, but the Bulls are going to be right there with them.

Kobe Bryant, Pat Riley join ALS ice bucket challenge ranks

Kobe Bryant

Does it really count if you take an ice bath every day, Kobe?

Still, Kobe Bryant became the latest in a long line of NBA players to join an icy summer — LeBron James, John Wall, Damian Lillard, Adam Silver, and most of Team USA, just to name a few. The ALS ice bucket challenge has taken off and gone viral, which has meant a lot of dumped water but more importantly a lot of money raised to help find a cure for the disease (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Bottom line is you need to do more than dumping ice on your head — donate. And a lot of people are doing that.

Also jumping in on the ALS ice bucket challenge, we have Pat Riley on a boat (I love that he can just challenge Bruce Springsteen because they’re buds). Then for fun, Dikembe Mutombo.

What four players left likely to get cut from Team USA roster? Things don’t look good for Andre Drummond.

Team USA Showcase

The math is pretty simple: There are still 16 guys on the Team USA roster as they head to New York for a week of training camp and “friendlies.” There can only be 12 guys on the roster when Team USA opens play in Spain for the World Cup on Aug. 30. Four guys have to go.

So who gets cut?

Let’s work this in reverse: Coach Mike Krzyzewski seemed to have an eight man rotation that he likes based on who played Saturday night vs. Brazil. That rotation has Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis as the starters. (Even if Faried ultimately does not start he seems a lock to make the team now.) After that five Klay Thompson, Rudy Gay and Kyrie Irving got big minutes. Those eight guys seem a lock and are guys who will get regular minutes.

After that Mason Plumlee got 15 minutes at the end of the game and played well (he shot 3-of-3). Chandler Parsons played five minutes, Kyle Korver three and Damian Lillard two.

DeMarcus Cousins did not play but he is a seeming lock to make the roster at this point. Plumlee got minutes to see if he should be the one more big on the roster.

Who was healthy and did not play? Andre Drummond, DeMar DeRozan and Gordon Hayward. All three of those guys have performed well in practice but the fact they didn’t make the court is not a good sign for the future. I expect those three will be cut. (Perry Farrell of the Detroit Free Press sees it the same way for Drummond.)

The fourth cut will come down to Coach K’s thinking. I think Parsons is a lock to stay because he can play as a stretch four and that is needed (he is why Gordon is in trouble, Parsons is a better version of a similar player in terms of positioning).

So does Krzyzewski keep Plumlee to have one more big on the roster to match up better with Spain, and with that cut one of the two shooters in Korver and Lillard, or does he cut the big man and keep the shooters? I don’t think that answer is set yet. That said, my guess is one of the shooters goes. From what I saw in Las Vegas at camp I would guess Lillard, but that is just a hunch.

Nothing is set in stone yet, a good week of practice and games could change the dynamic for Drummond or DeRozan or anyone. But the eight man rotations seems set, and Cousins may join that eight once his knee recovers (he is expected to play in this week’s tune up games).

That leaves everyone else is on the bubble.

Tweet of the Day: You can still get a Dwight Howard Lakers jersey at LAX. For $100.

Orlando Magic v Los Angeles Lakers

Dwight Howard is still enemy No. 1 for Lakers fans. Well, to be fair maybe not all of them, he’s No. 2 on a few people’s lists. But to say the man is not loved is an understatement. To Lakers fans, nobody walks away from their team.

This tweet is from Jeff Pearlman, author of the amazing “Showtime” book that came out last year and is a must read for Lakers fans (or just basketball junkies). It’s filled with amazing stories.

Back to the tweet… There are roughly zero people walking around the city in a Dwight Howard Lakers jersey. The idea that someone would spend good money on that… well, at least they are selling it at the airport to naive tourists.

Maybe they would spend $3, because you need a target for dart throwing practice at times and the dart board can get tedious. But aside that? Good luck.

Trainer says Carmelo Anthony slimmed down to lengthen career

Brooklyn Nets v New York Knicks

We don’t have a number, but Carmelo Anthony looks slimmer. There are reports he’s dropped weight.

Why? To extend the length of his career his trainer told

“In anything, you get older, and getting leaner and lighter helps with the longevity of your career,” Anthony’s trainer, Idan Ravin, told in a phone conversation Thursday afternoon.

“He’s played a lot of years,” Ravin added. “He puts a lot of mileage on his legs, so the leaner and lighter you are, obviously the better.”

He said there was not an aggressive, specific weight loss program, it was more the result of increased cardio and Anthony working hard to stick with his diet. Basically what a lot of players — Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Steve Nash and others — do as they age.

There were also reports Anthony dropped weight to better fit in the triangle, and maybe that’s a part of it. But this is likely the larger reason. Much like LeBron James’ weight loss, this is about keeping knees and a body that has seen some milage healthy. Plus Anthony is again going to have to carry a huge load with the Knicks this year. He’s going to need to stay healthy and on the court.

Of course, if one were cynical, one would say Anthony is hoping to be around for the contract after this one.