Rip Hamilton isn’t the answer for Bulls
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com
NEW YORK — Coach Tom Thibodeau was looking for an answer at shooting guard after the Bulls’ loss in Game 1.
Thibodeau obviously found it, and it wasn’t Richard Hamilton.
Hamilton was the first shooting guard off the bench Saturday but only played seven ineffective minutes, going 0-for-2 from the field in a scoreless outing.
In Game 2, Jimmy Butler got the start again, and Marco Belinelli was first off the bench. Even when the Bulls went away from Belinelli, they moved Nate Robinson to shooting guard so he could play alongside point guard Kirk Hinrich.
“We’ve had a lot of guys in and out of the lineup,’’ Thibodeau said. “You’re also looking at guys who are trying to come back from injury, so you don’t know where they are. The only way to find out was to play. And so we have a little more clarity.’’
Hamilton was one of those players coming back from injury. He was sidelined more than a month with a bad back in March and early April. But Hamilton is not in the plans moving forward. The Bulls have a $5 million option for next season and undoubtedly will walk away from it.
Butler has emerged as the starting shooting guard of the future, and the Bulls will do whatever they can to re-sign Belinelli before the open market swarms around him.
Shirt and tie
Injured point guard Derrick Rose sat on the bench for the second consecutive game and third time this season.
Thibodeau said he’d most likely miss the rest of the playoffs, but he pointed out that he has had players come back from extended injuries before in the playoffs, including Patrick Ewing when Thibodeau was an assistant coach with the Knicks.
“That experience taught me that it’s the right thing to do, so if Derrick can come back, we want him back,’’ Thibodeau said.
This has been a homecoming for Brooklyn-born Taj Gibson, but not exactly the happy one he was hoping for.
“It’s crazy,’’ Gibson said. “[Being home is] a distraction, but I just have good teammates around me. I hardly leave the hotel, and my family understands that. But Brooklyn, I don’t know. They’re coming out of nowhere, these fans, man. I didn’t know they had a strong fan base like that. A lot of my friends turned against me. So, hopefully, I can prove some wrong.’’