WEST POINT, N.Y. — Monday was a light day for the U.S. National Team. In front of a gym of cadets and guests at the U.S. Military Academy, the team took part in offensive drills, a half-paced scrimmage, and shooting games.
But the easiness of the day didn’t stop the U.S. from taking extra precautions with Derrick Rose, who didn’t participate in any of the action.
When the players were introduced to the crowd, Rose wasn’t wearing his practice gear, and his knees were wrapped in ice. He still got the biggest ovation among the 16 players on the roster. He said afterward that the day off wasn’t about any pain or discomfort with his surgically repaired right knee (or his surgically repaired left knee).
“Everything feels fine,” Rose said. “I just wanted to get a little bit of rest.”
He added that if he knew how casual the two hours in the gym were going to be, “I probably would have practiced.”
The practice came at the end of a tour of the campus in West Point, where the National Team observed how the cadets live and train. Bulls head coach and Team USA assistant Tom Thibodeau said the day off was “more precautionary than anything else.”
“We were on our feet a lot today,” Thibodeau said. “We wanted to be careful with all the players.”
But neither Rose nor Thibodeau would dismiss the notion of further days off. The U.S. has practices on Tuesday and Thursday this week, with games at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday and Friday. When the World Cup begins in Bilbao on Aug. 30, they will play five pool-play games in six days.
Rose is slated to be the starting point guard, but the U.S. certainly has the backcourt depth – Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard if he makes the final roster – to make up for his absence should he need a day off against one of the weaker pool play groups at the World Cup. The defending World and Olympic champs might not face a real challenge until the semifinals on Sept. 11.
“If he needs rest,” Thibodeau said, “we’re going to give him rest.”