Who should join near-lock Rose on 2012 Olympic team?

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Who should join near-lock Rose on 2012 Olympic team?

Just as news that Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer won't make the cut of finalists for the 2012 USA Olympic men's basketball team -- along with fellow 2008 participants Michael Redd of the Suns, Pistons small forward Tayshaun Prince and future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd -- wasn't a shocker, it's no surprise that Derrick Rose did make the list.
Barring injury, the Bulls point guard and reigning league MVP is almost a lock to make the squad, but who else will join him?

Pencil in the likes of the back-to-back NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant of the Thunder, current Magic center Dwight Howard, Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony and the Heat duo of LeBron James and Chicago native Dwyane Wade.

The other half of the dozen-man roster is where it gets tricky, but if it's up to me -- based on their skill sets and the 19-man player pool, first reported by Chris Sheridan -- I'd go with Clippers floor general Chris Paul, his young teammate Blake Griffin, NBA rebounding champ Kevin Love of the Timberwolves, Hornets sharpshooter Eric Gordon and 76ers swingman Andre Iguodala.

The final two picks might seem like head-scratchers -- leaving off point guards Chauncey Billups, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams, forwards LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh and Lamar Odom, and center Tyson Chandler -- but if the goal is to win a gold medal, then role players and specialists like Gordon (shooting) and Iguodala (defense) are necessary, though it's hard to leave off veterans like Odom, Billups and Chandler, let alone young talents such as Westbrook and Aldridge.

However, evaluating the snubs on how they play for their NBA teams and present production -- Odom has started the season miserably after being traded to Dallas, Billups isn't getting any younger, Aldridge won't get the same touches he sees in Portland and the abilities of Westbrook, Chandler and Williams are relatively duplicated, if not surpassed, by Rose, Howard and Paul, respectively (Gordon is currently hurt and Iguodala has struggled, but they'd be specialists) -- it doesn't appear they'd make it a more complete team, though the value of chemistry can't be underestimated, helping the cases of 2010 World Championships veterans Odom, Chandler and Billups.

The final roster won't be set until after the NBA season concludes, so there's plenty of time for debate.

Who would be on your roster and what players should have been included in the group of finalists?

Bulls' Taj Gibson a late scratch with ankle injury vs. Mavericks

Bulls' Taj Gibson a late scratch with ankle injury vs. Mavericks

Just when you think the Bulls are back at full strength for one of the few times this season and able to hit the reset button halfway through the year, someone goes down with an injury.

Taj Gibson will miss Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks with a left ankle injury that he apparently suffered Sunday night in the Bulls’ win against Memphis.

This comes on the day Nikola Mirotic has recovered from his strep throat and apparently the flu bug that made its way through the locker room has finally run its course.

Paul Zipser, the Bulls’ rookie second-round pick, will start in Gibson’s place. Zipser has played in 12 games so far, starting in two of them.

"It's something that kind of popped up,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I don't know exactly the time. He did have a little bit of soreness in the game. Again, it's not to the point where you're saying this is something that holds him out a while.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Gibson did have ankle surgery on his left ankle in June 2015, but he’s been an iron man this year, starting every game to this point and averaging 12 points with 7.3 rebounds.

Hoiberg said he’s not sure if Gibson will need an MRI or if this injury is somehow related to the ankle surgery that cost Gibson several months in the 2015 offseason.

It seems Hoiberg will start off with Zipser and then use Mirotic and Bobby Portis as reserves against the Mavericks team that gave the Bulls a 25-point whipping in Dallas on Dec. 3, their second-worst loss of the year.

“Again, we hope to sit him tonight, have a couple days off to rest and get him back in the lineup in the next one,” Hoiberg said. “We felt it was best to hold him out tonight."

Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki: Growing up 'I was a huge Chicago Bulls fan'

Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki: Growing up 'I was a huge Chicago Bulls fan'

When Dirk Nowitzki was a young teenager growing up in Wurzburg, Germany, there were only a few NBA games on TV each week. And more times than not, in 1991 and 1992, the team seen most frequently was the Chicago Bulls.

It's why Nowitzki told reporters on Tuesday at the United Center that the Bulls were his favorite team as he grew up and learned to love basketball.

"I was a huge Chicago Bulls fan. If there was any franchise I would love to play for back then, it was the Bulls. Obviously Jordan, I was a huge (Scottie) Pippen fan. Pippen was actually my favorite for a long time. Just his versatility, his shooting, his defense, his rebounding, his playmaking.

"So I was a huge Pippen guy. and then later (Dennis) Rodman, (Toni) Kukoc. They had some great, great teams. and back in the day (Germany) only showed one, two games a week, and it was usually Chicago. So, great, great sports town, great history, and it's always fun to play here."

After a successful stint in Germany, playing for DJK Wurzburg from 1994 to 1998, Nowitzki was the 9th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft. The Bucks traded his rights to the Mavericks, where Nowitzki has been ever since.

The future Hall of Famer's illustrious career has included an NBA title and Finals MVP in 2011, four selections to the All-NBA First Team, and he's sixth all-time in NBA in history in points. He needs just 307 more points to reach 30,000 for his career.

For what it's worth, the Bulls drafted 28th in that 1998 NBA Draft and selected Corey Benjamin.

Dirk and the Mavericks square off against the Bulls tonight at 7 p.m. on CSN+.