Derrick Rose was a late scratch as Team USA prepared to play the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, but he said the reason wasn’t his surgically repaired knees. Instead, it was something he called “general body fatigue.”
Coach Mike Krzyzewski made the decision under the watchful eye of his assistant coach, who happens to also coach Rose’s Chicago Bulls team. Rose who has missed most of the last two seasons after hurting one knee and then the other, had “some aches in both knees, as well as his body, over the last 72 hours, but nothing unexpected or even out of the ordinary,” an unnamed Bulls source told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“It’s just body fatigue,’’ Rose told reporters. Were the knees to blame?
“No, not the knees,” Rose, who also missed practices Monday and Tuesday, said. “No, no, no, no. Y’all don’t got to worry about that.”
Still, it raises questions about whether playing in the FIBA World Cup later this month is the best way to get Rose ready for the NBA season, but Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau disputed that.
“We went in with the idea that, as long as he’s feeling good, he’s gonna play [for Team USA],” Thibodeau said (via ESPN’s Marc Stein). “He’s gotta play at some point. He’s basically been out for three years, so he’s gotta play, and I think this is a great setting for him — as I’ve mentioned many times — because of the depth of the team.
“You have Kyrie, Damian [Lillard], James [Harden]; there’s so many guys. He doesn’t have to play a lot of minutes or have the burden of scoring big. He just has to go out there and find a rhythm and run the team. With all the depth on the team, it’s ideal for him. But if he needs rest, we’re gonna give him rest. It’s gonna be a process for him coming back. There’s gonna be some days where he has some soreness. And when he has some soreness, we’re gonna be smart.”
There are two big reasons for caution: Rose cannot afford another knee injury and the last thing anyone wants to see is another Team USA injury after Paul George suffered a compound leg fracture that will force him to miss the entire NBA season.