<
>

For Rose, USA decision indicates change in mindset

CHICAGO -- Thursday marked the end of another era for Derrick Rose.

With the news that Rose isn't one of the 34 players headed to Las Vegas next week for Team USA's minicamp, one that USA Basketball czar Jerry Colangelo has made clear would be mandatory for players if they wanted to be considered for the team that will represent the U.S. in next summer's Rio Olympics, the Bulls' point guard effectively ended his playing career with USA Basketball.

In the long term, Rose's decision to forgo any future Team USA commitments isn't a bad one. With all the injuries he's dealt with over the past three-plus years, it's always going to be a safer bet for Rose to continue training and working out away from the spotlight of international basketball. He can continue building up his confidence and trying to regain his All-Star form without the eyes of the basketball world watching his every move.

Rose's decision doesn't come as a complete surprise given that sources told ESPN recently that the former MVP was still undecided about his participation, but Rose's choice does represent a change in mindset.

Over the years, Rose has been very open about his desire to win an Olympic gold medal. It is something he looked forward to and always spoke highly about. He was on track to compete in the 2012 games -- before tearing the ACL in his left knee during the first game of the 2012 Eastern Conference playoffs.

"That would be an honor," Rose said in 2010, of becoming one of the faces of Team USA down the line. "It would be an honor even to be on the team. But to be a face of the USA team, it would mean a lot. A lot of hard work I've been putting in this game. A lot of sacrifice and dedication. It would let me know that I can put my goals up even higher."

Injuries happen and things can change in an instant in the NBA, but it's worth remembering that only a few short years ago, many within USA Basketball thought that Rose could be one of the faces of the team for years to come.

"Hopefully we can hand the torch to [Rose] in a couple years," Carmelo Anthony said during the 2010 All-Star Weekend.

Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski has sung Rose's praises for years -- Rose helped lead Team USA to a gold medal in the 2010 world championships in Turkey and the 2014 World Cup of Basketball in Spain -- and the Hall of Fame coach was always quick to point out how well Rose was doing.

Colangelo has spoken glowingly of Rose over that time and continued the positive feelings even after Rose's injuries. Former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, an assistant on Krzyzewski's Team USA staff, was Rose's biggest public defender and fan over his five-year tenure as coach of the Bulls.

But the sad reality for Rose, and for his supporters within Team USA, is that at this point in his basketball life, nobody is quite sure what to expect from the 26-year-old anymore. He showed flashes of brilliance at times last season, especially at certain points during the playoffs. But he also showed the rust and inconsistency that he hadn't shown before the first knee injury. In short, Rose has that superstar quality on some nights, but he didn't on many others.

Five years after he was viewed as a Team USA linchpin, Rose and his confidants had to face the very real possibility that Rose may not even make the 2016 squad in Rio. With star guards Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and John Wall already committed to the minicamp, the competition to make the 12-man roster was going to be as fierce as ever.

Through the years, Rose has never been the type to shy away from competition, but his injuries have admittedly changed the way he thinks about the game, both in the short and long term.

His decision not to compete for a spot on Team USA's latest roster may turn out to be a good thing for him in the future, but it also only reinforces just how much the arc of his career has changed in the past few years.