Krzyzewski calls Anthony 'a great team player'

USA Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski tried to put a stop to Carmelo Anthony's reputation as a ball-stopper.

"I love Carmelo," Krzyzewski said by phone Monday. "I've been with him from the start when I took over USA Basketball. He's been a great team player for us. He can score. That's what he is supposed to do. But he can defend and rebound too."

The Bulls will pursue Anthony on July 1 now that he officially has opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent.

"Carmelo loves being a Knick; he loves the city and the fans," Anthony's agent, Leon Rose, said in a statement. "At this stage of his career, he just wants to explore his options."

Those options also are expected to include pursuit from the Rockets, Mavericks, Heat and Lakers, although most league observers place the Bulls as the Knicks' stiffest competition to land Anthony. The Knicks can pay him more than any team.

"At the London Olympics, I asked Carmelo to come off the bench," Krzyzewski said. "He said, 'Look, Coach, I'll do anything you want me to do.' He came off the bench and was one of our leading scorers. He did anything he could to help us win. He's a wonderful team player."

Rose-y outlook: When Krzyzewski returned to Chicago last week to speak at the centennial celebration of his Catholic elementary school, he had two long talks with Tom Thibodeau, his Team USA assistant.

Thibodeau relayed encouraging news about Derrick Rose.

"Tom told me first how hard he's working and the speed he's working at," Krzyzewski said. "When you're coming back from an injury, you have to prepare to play — run, shoot, push the ball. Derrick wants to be special. And he has been. This has been a difficult time for him, but he's handled it well. We're hoping this summer can be a springboard for him. I know that's what the Bulls, Tom and the city of Chicago want as well. "

Rose will participate in Team USA's July minicamp in Las Vegas. The program also has a Chicago stop scheduled in August with community events at the World Basketball Festival and a United Center scrimmage against Brazil.

Krzyzewski said it's too early to speculate whether Rose can make the team that will compete in Spain's World Cup of Basketball in September. Rose played for Team USA and Krzyzewski when they won gold at the World Championships in 2010 in Turkey.

"I haven't seen him play," Krzyzewski said. "If he's up to par physically, it's a matter of how he interacts 5-on-5. He's been away from it for a while. Even though he's working out, it's different when you get on the court.

"We're anxious to see him and work with him that week. In Instanbul, he did anything he could to help the team. He's very unselfish."

Draft dabblings: The Bulls continue to explore packaging the 16th and 19th picks in Thursday's draft to move into the lottery. In a draft stocked with shooters, that remains a target.

Twitter @kcjhoop