DEERFIELD, Ill. — Derrick Rose’s comments that were reported by Yahoo! Sports overshadowed Monday’s introductory press conference for Bulls draft picks Doug McDermott and Cameron Bairstow, as general manager Gar Forman and head coach Tom Thibodeau were queried about the former league MVP’s continued aversion to recruiting free agents and his health status leading up to next month’s USA Basketball training camp for the FIBA World Cup.
“Well, I haven’t a chance to talk to Derrick, but all indications have been that he would [participate in national-team tryouts in Las Vegas],” Forman said, countering Rose’s claim that he was still undecided about participating. “So we’ll visit with him the next couple of days. But from a physical standpoint, he’s doing terrific. He’s playing five-on-five, he hasn’t skipped any steps and there’s been progress the whole way, and he looks ready to go.”
Thibodeau chimed in: “It’s not anything different than what we’ve said all along, in terms of, if he’s ready to go, he’s going. He wants to go. That’s what he’s told me, that’s what he’s told USA Basketball. But it’s a step-by-step process. He’s coming along fine. The next step is to participate with summer league. If that goes well, he goes to USA and if that goes well, he’ll play in those games. So that’s the way we’re approaching it and again, you don’t know the context in which it was said. So from what we’re seeing, he’s making good, steady progress, he looks great and that’s all we can go by.”
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Rose’s interview took place at former teammate Drew Gooden’s basketball camp in California. While the point guard made positive remarks about superstar free agent Carmelo Anthony, with whom the Bulls will reportedly meet just after midnight Tuesday, he also repeated his past stance about preferring not to recruit, something Forman and Thibodeau again clarified.
“Well again, you don’t know the context in which it was said and what we’re selling is our team,” Thibodeau explained. “I’m sure free agents are well aware of our team, the guys that we do have and they’ll research, and our players will be available to talk. So we think we have a lot to offer. We think that we have great depth, we have great tradition and we’re positioned well to go forward. So we do think we have a lot to sell.”
Forman added, a bit tongue-in-cheek: “Until tomorrow, or I guess tonight at midnight, we have no idea who we’ll meet with, where we’ll meet with them, what the situation will be. So that’s something as we get started tonight at midnight and tomorrow, we’ll start to put together our plans and go forward from there.”