Even head coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t know at the moment … but it’s possible. Thibodeau was asked on Monday whether Hamilton’s lower back injury could keep him out the rest of the season and the veteran coach’s answer left open the possibility.
"There’s an unknown," Thibodeau said. "It’s (a) back so those are tricky, but we just have to wait and see."
The reality is that while Hamilton has had some nice games with the Bulls, he hasn’t been able to stay on the floor long enough to make much of a difference. He’s missed 21 games and counting this season because of various injuries and hasn’t even accompanied the Bulls on their last few road trips. He is a forgotten man in the Bulls’ locker room.
Whether he comes back on the floor or not, he will be viewed as an $11 million dollar mistake by the Bulls’ front office: $5 million for last season, $5 million for this season and a $1 million buyout this summer. Hamilton has said in the past that he would like to play another couple years in the league but it would probably be best for all parties involved to move in different directions.
There was a segment of Pistons fans who were convinced Richard Hamilton had more to offer when the Pistons benched, deactivated and then eventually waived him. Back then, I wrote it was very likely Hamilton was declining due to age and wouldn’t be a major contributor again:
Richard Hamilton’s career isn’t over, but he’s likely well past his peak. To maximize his value, he should play around better scorers and take fewer shots, perhaps as a backup. He could be effective in that role, but whether he accepts it is a different story.
Hamilton accepted a slightly reduced role with in Chicago, where his usage declined, though not much. His playing time decreased significantly, but it still wasn’t enough to avoid repeated injury. This shouldn’t be surprising for a guard in his mid 30s who relied on elite conditioning to be effective.
Most of us knew this already, but the Pistons didn’t give up on Hamilton too early. They did it too late.
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