Will Rip Hamilton be a plus or minus for the Bulls?
BY NEIL HAYES Twitter: @bynhayes December 13, 2011 12:20PM
Richard Hamilton’s pedigree is unquestioned and includes nine years and an NBA championship with the Pistons. | M. Spencer Green~AP
If the Bulls sign Rip Hamilton, he will be ...
Updated: December 13, 2011 6:05PM
The biggest concern related to the Bulls expected signing of Rip Hamilton isn’t his age or ability to defend Dwyane Wade in the playoffs. It’s how he will mesh with his new teammates.
The Bulls won a regular-season best 62 games last season not because they were the league’s most talented team. They were, however, perhaps the most unselfish. This wasn’t a group of players motivated by minutes or statistics but by winning. It will take more of that same attitude to overcome the star-studded Miami Heat in the playoffs this season.
General manager Gar Forman likes the character and chemistry his team developed last season, which is why he put careful thought into signing Hamilton.
“To us it’s one of the key elements when we evaluate players,” Forman said. “Whether it’s the draft or free agency or trades we’ve spent a lot of years doing a lot of background and intel on a number of players in any of those three scenarios. We’ve built up our talent base to a point where we feel we have pretty good knowledge of who a guy is and how he’ll fit in based on some of the background work that we’ve done. It’s one piece of the puzzle when you’re evaluating somebody but to us it’s a very important piece.”
Hamilton led UConn to a national championship in college. He was a critical member of a Pistons team that relied more on chemistry than talent en route to an NBA title in 2004. But when he arrives in Chicago, which could be as soon as Wednesday, he must understand that Derrick Rose is the unquestioned leader of this team, and that he’ll be mostly a complimentary player, a third-or-even fourth option behind Rose, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer.
Deng has known Hamilton a long time and raves about him as a person. So does Rose. Ronnie Brewer will likely have a reduced role because of Hamilton’s arrival, which concerns him not in the least, which is another example of the unselfish environment that Hamilton will be entering.
“The thing that means the most to me is winning,” Brewer said. “It’s not about who starts and plays in the game. It’s about winning. If you can go out there and do your part and that allows you to win games, that’s what everybody plays for, that’s what in my opinion you should play for.”
The Bulls have something special brewing, and it’s only partially due to talent. Hamilton has the ability to give the Bulls another scorer. He can create off the dribble, keep defenses from collapsing on Rose and give the Bulls’ backcourt some added size. But first he has to fit in both on the court and in the locker room.