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NBA Rumors: Derrick Rose Returns to Chicago

Derrick Rose returns to action after nine months. How did he do? … Jay-Z burning bridges for Kevin Durant? … Team USA changes travel plans due to Ebola

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Rose Returns to Action, Feeling Confident

“My game is totally different,” Rose said. “When I came back last time, I was just trying to get in a groove. I think I felt a nice little groove. My confidence is high right now, and I think even playing in the game [Saturday] you’ll be able to see by the way that I attack the players defensively. And by the way I play offensively, just not rushing anything and just taking my time on pick and rolls and just letting the play develop.”

via Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago

Last night, Derrick Rose played in his first game in Chicago in nine months, suiting up for Team USA in an exhibition against Brazil as the team gets prepared for the World Cup. With many Bulls fans in attendance, Rose received “M-V-P” chants from the crowd, which was understandably excited to see him in action.

Rose started the game and scored seven points in 24 minutes. Over the last two seasons, Rose played in just 10 games after sustaining two serious knee injuries.

As Rose told reporters recently, his confidence is back and he’s attacking much more now. He admits that wasn’t the case when he tried to return during the 2012-13 season. Physically, he was fine, but he clearly wasn’t the same player mentally.

Now, he’s determined to return to form and Saturday was a big step for him. After the game, Rose seemed happy with his performance and he said he was appreciative of the support he received from the hometown fans. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who is an assistant with Team USA, said that he “couldn’t be more pleased with the way he played” when asked about Rose.

Team USA will now travel to New York as they continue their World Cup preparation. With stars like Paul George, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love not participating in the World Cup, Rose will likely have an increased role for the national team.

Durant’s Camp Rubbing People the Wrong Way?

Team USA is only the latest entity to be left with a sour taste after dealing with Durant and his latest agent. The folks at Nike aren’t exactly happy. The folks at Gatorade already were unhappy.

“It’s like Jay-Z is determined to do a scorched earth negotiation with everyone Kevin Durant is currently aligned with, and they aren’t doing him any favors,” one source close to Durant told SheridanHoops on Friday as Team USA prepared for its first exhibition game in preparation for the 2014 World Cup.

Durant and his agency, Roc Nation, are more interested in cashing in on his MVP award and his expiring Nike deal than they are in having Durant keep his word to the people who were with him in 2010 in Turkey at the World Championship and in 2012 in London at the Olympics.

via Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com

Kevin Durant seems to universally loved, but it sounds like Jay-Z and other members of his camp have been rubbing some people the wrong way lately.

Durant’s representatives understandably want to build his brand and use the momentum generated from his MVP award to do so, but his decision to withdraw from Team USA citing mental and physical exhaustion has upset some people.

Sheridan explains in his article that coach Mike Krzyzewski was “blindsided” by Durant’s decision to pull out of the World Cup, leaving the team with just two days to implement a new offensive system before their first exhibition game against Brazil. In an interview with SheridanHoops.com, Krzyzewski admitted that the timing of the decision wasn’t great.

“Looking back, if you could turn back time, you would like for him to make that decision before Vegas. We might have invited somebody different,” Krzyzewski told Sheridan. “But saying that, that’s in the past, we’re forward, and it puts us a little behind, just like the injuries.”

Sheridan explains that Jay-Z has burnt other bridges for Durant as well, ending his endorsement with Gatorade to sign with Sparkling Ice last year and now potentially leaving Nike for Under Armour. Jay-Z is Durant’s third agent – he has also been represented by Aaron Goodwin and Rob Pelinka.

Team USA Won’t Travel to Senegal Amid Ebola Outbreak

The Ebola outbreak has changed USA Basketball’s travel plans.

The team scrapped an Aug. 27 trip to Senegal after health officials said it was too risky. More than 1,100 people have died in the Ebola outbreak sweeping West Africa, making it the largest and deadliest ever recorded.

via Nancy Armour of USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball’s managing director, expressed his frustration that Team USA had to cancel their trip to Senegal, but this is the right decision given the recent Ebola outbreak. Health officials informed USA Basketball that they shouldn’t make the trip.

“We really had an issue with canceling because we were so committed to the program down there and wanted to participate,” Colangelo said. “[But] you can’t take any chances. We certainly didn’t want to put anyone at risk.”

Rather than traveling to Senegal, Team USA will remain in the Canary Islands, where they will play their final exhibition game on Aug. 26. The World Cup will get underway on Aug. 30 in Spain.

Colangelo said that Team USA will eventually make a trip to Senegal, once this outbreak is under control and health officials allow them to travel to the region.

“When that’s lifted, we’ll be in Senegal,” he said. “We’re totally committed to that.”

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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