Following the first Team USA training camp practice in Las Vegas, the media scrum around Derrick Rose was bigger than anyone else — bigger than Kevin Durant (then still with the team), Coach K, everyone. It wasn’t even close. And pretty much everything was a variation of the same question:
“How are your knees feeling?”
Those questions have continued after he looked good in practice, after he missed time due to soreness, after his role has decreased from starter to coming off the bench, after limited minutes in games, after questions about if he even should really be on the team.
Rose’s reaction? Those questions aren’t going to go away no matter what he does.
That’s what Rose told Marc Stein of ESPN in Spain the day before Team USA tips off in the World Cup against Finland.
Rose is going to need to put in minutes during the tight schedule for Team USA (and every other team) the first week of the World Cup. One of Team USA’s biggest advantages is depth — the guys at the end of the roster are top NBA players (your “worst” guard is DeMar DeRozan, who is a stud). But everyone is going to have to play.
Rose is right. Come the season he could play 30+ minutes night and not miss a game and the first question after every game will be “How are your knees feeling?” Until he does it for a season and a playoffs, it will be the main question he faces. And even after that it may be the second one.
Right now we’re all trying to read the tea leaves — limited games in an unusual setting don’t provide real answers. It’s small sample size theater. What you think those exhibition friendlies say about Rose really says more about what you think of Rose’s future than anything else. Team USA may be a great place for Rose to shake off the rust and push through the pain that comes with any comeback, but nobody can read much into how he is really feeling. Anyone who says they can is selling something.
We’ll get a better sense from the World Cup tournament.
But the real answers will not come until late October. And December. And February. And beyond.