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For new guy Rip Hamilton, Bulls’ Luol Deng will be friendly face

Updated: January 16, 2012 10:35AM

When Rip Hamilton joins the Bulls on Thursday, it won’t be a totally unfamiliar situation.

Hamilton knew forward Luol Deng even before he entered the NBA, having played with Deng’s brother, Ajou, on the 1999 Connecticut team that won the national championship.

Deng was in high school when he first met Hamilton.

‘‘Rip is a terrific player,’’ Deng said. ‘‘He’s going to help us out a lot. Has a lot of experience, and he’s a great teammate. I’ve known Rip for a long time, and I’m really excited he’s going to be with us.”

Hamilton is expected to be used similar to the way Kyle Korver was last season. A player who moves well without the ball, Hamilton will be an excellent complement to Derrick Rose’s play-making ability.

‘‘With him, I’m going to have a lot more assists this year,’’ Rose said. ‘‘With him shooting the ball the way he does and the way he is in condition, he’ll be able to keep up.

‘‘Chicago has been asking for a two, I guess, a legit two. Him winning a championship [with the Pistons in 2004] and his skills speak for itself.’’

Integrating Rip

Coach Tom Thibodeau was still coy when asked after Wednesday’s practice, two hours before the signing was officially announced, about how he’d specifically integrate Hamilton into the rotation.

But speaking in general about free agents joining the Bulls, Thibodeau said a player has to be evaluated before any personnel decisions are made.

‘‘You can’t answer that until you see him,” he said. ‘‘But it’s similar to signing somebody now to make a trade. The difference is you’re coming off the offseason. You don’t know where guys are, conditioning-wise.’’

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