If Derrick Rose ultimately decides that his surgically repaired right knee is in good enough shape to practice with Team USA this summer, his chances of earning a roster spot improved Monday when Yahoo Sports reported that Russell Westbrook will sit out the World Cup in Spain to rest his own knee.
Westbrook and Rose have plenty in common: both are ultra-athletic point guards who play above the rim, use their speed and quickness to beat defenses and regularly find themselves on highlight reels. They've both been named All-Stars, and they're even workout partners in California in the offseason.
Unfortunately they've both missed time with significant knee injuries, too, creating even more parallels between the two stars. But where they stand with their respective injuries couldn't be more different, which is one of the expected reasons why Westbrook is opting out of the competition with Team USA this summer.
On one hand, Rose has played in just 49 games since the start of the 2011-12 season. To put that in perspective, LeBron James has played 281 games in that span, including more playoff games (66) than Rose has played as a whole. The Bulls' former MVP is itching to get back on the court after suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee last November, and seeing as he's been sidelined since then and reportedly is 100 percent it makes sense that he'd compete this summer. Two major knee surgeries removed, Rose has plenty to prove and could do so on a national stage while playing with the game's best.
Meanwhile, Westbrook is coming off a season in which he played in just 46 games after a third knee surgery. Still, the Thunder point guard played in 21 of his team's final 27 games and averaged nearly 39 minutes in 19 playoff games. His knee is healthy, and he's already proven himself with Team USA with gold medals in both the 2010 World Championships and 2012 Olympic Games. Wojnarowski reports that Westbrook still intends to play in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, and he'll almost undoubtedly have a roster spot if he desires it.
As for Rose, if he's able to play this summer it puts him one step closer to earning a roster spot. It doesn't hurt that Tom Thibodeau is now an assistant for the team. Wojnarowski noted that Rose's main competition will be Golden State's Stephen Curry and Portland's Damian Lillard.
Team USA will begin training camp, partake in an exhibition tour in August (including a stop in Chicago) before heading to Spain for the tournament.