"I think this is the most talented team I've played on in my NBA career to tell you the truth," Rose said after Team USA's practice Wednesday. "With all the players that I have, with the experience that everybody's bringing to the table. And the way that everybody's working out individually during the offseason and what I've been hearing."
The Bulls struck out in their attempt to lure free agent Carmelo Anthony to Chicago but quickly pivoted to a backup plan earlier this month. They signed four-time All-Star center Pau Gasol to a three-year, $22 million contract as well as European star Nikola Mirotic, a Bulls draft pick in 2011 who has been playing the past three seasons for Real Madrid. They also re-signed Kirk Hinrich, added rookie sharpshooter Doug McDermott in a draft-day trade and signed veteran guard Aaron Brooks to provide depth behind Rose.
Rose is pleased with the efforts made by general manager Gar Forman and executive VP John Paxson in upgrading the roster.
"I have that sense that they went for it," Rose said. "That they gave their all. We got who we could get and who wanted to come. And that's who we have to ride with. We have a lot of confidence in the players that we just signed and we know that the guys that's already there is working out very hard. So it's just a matter of getting in the gym, working out together, jelling very quickly, since we're not going overseas early."
Rose, who is in Las Vegas this week as part of Team USA's training camp in advance of the FIBA Basketball World Cup that starts next month in Spain, acknowledges that he is motivated by seeing the work his teammates have been putting in over the past few months.
"Just seeing [second-year forward] Tony Snell bust his [butt] in the gym the whole summer, seeing Doug [McDermott] come in and do the same thing and they end up playing well, it kind of gave me a boost and let me know that hard work pays off," Rose said. "So I'm watching them playing summer league a couple of times seeing them play with a lot of confidence, it just gave me confidence coming into this trial actually. But I think that we have a deep team, and we've got players that have one goal and we'll do anything to get there."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is excited about the possibilities of his team, but he also understands that the success of this group revolves around Rose, who is making his way back from two serious knee injuries.
"We're excited about our group," Thibodeau said. "I think the way [Joakim Noah] and [Taj Gibson] played last year is a huge plus. The addition of Pau [Gasol], getting a stretch 4 like [Nikola] Mirotic, picking up McDermott, [but] the biggest thing is Derrick. Obviously that's huge for our team and we can never lose sight of how important he is to our team."
That's why several members of the Bulls front office and training staff have been watching Rose work all week with Team USA. Forman watched Wednesday's practice and was very pleased with what he saw. Forman is hopeful that Rose can knock off a lot of the rust that hampered his game during his first comeback last season.
"I think it will help," Forman said, in regards to Rose having this experience with Team USA. "He's been playing 5-on-5 now for a couple of months. But to do it in this setting that's very structured, and to do it against the level of competition he's doing it against is a real plus. And I think it will be a plus for him going into camp in October, and obviously a plus for our team."
Rose has impressed seemingly everyone through three days of Team USA camp and is trying to take all the hype surrounding his return in stride.
"It feels good knowing that people see that I've been working my butt off," Rose said. "If anything, it's going to push me to keep working because I'm a hard worker. It feels good when your teammates hit you up or text you. Like Joakim's been texting me a lot saying how he's been hearing about how I've been playing, and it's pushing him to go into his rehab with his knee even tougher. So it goes a long way."
Rose said he got Gasol's number during the free-agency period and talked to him about coming to play in Chicago.
"I talked to him before he signed," Rose said. "And he said when we get to Spain that we can probably get something to eat so I'll probably catch up with him and get dinner or something. But if not I'll see him when he gets to Chicago."