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Richard Hamilton’s Bulls tenure might be nearing its end

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

Has Rip Hamilton played his last game for the Chicago Bulls?

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.


  • Mar 19, 201310:55 pm
    by omar


    I thought since he is a shooter and does not rely on athleticism that his age would not affect his game that much.

    • Mar 20, 20138:12 am
      by KaBa


      Remeber how he got all his shots? In his prime he was probably running through 20 screens until he got an open look. So yes he is a shooter, but he relies on screens and his ability to use them proparly.

      • Mar 20, 20138:56 am
        by Jeremy


        That’s when Carlisle, Brown, and somewhat with Flip’s offense. Curry and Kuester hardly ran him off of double back screens. Rip needs look for a team with an efficient half court offense and play a 6th, 7th man role – San Antonio, Boston, and Dallas could all be great homes for him in the last years of his career. 

        • Mar 20, 20139:17 am
          by tarsier


          And he wasn’t very effective with Curry and Kuester. Rip isn’t a great shooter and never was. He was very good at moving until he lost his man and got an open shot.

          That was his skillset. Getting open consistently enough to shoot at an average percentage in spite of being the team’s leading scorer.

          He can’t do that anymore. If someone wants a shooter who doesn’t do that, there are many better options available. 

          • Mar 20, 201312:40 pm
            by Huddy

            Even if he could still run through screens and move near what he did before, that requires the offense to focus a lot on him so that all of these guys can set him the screens.  When he lead the Pistons in scoring his plays required a lot of contribution from the rest of the team in screening since he didn’t make his own shot.  He shot a good percentage and had a decent pump fake to get fouled, but I really doubt a team is going to set up their offense for him at this stage in his career so that he can get those open shots and if they don’t he will never score like he did and be even worse on D than he already was.

  • Mar 20, 20132:21 am
    by kamal


    From what I’ve read, it’s not his offense that’s the problem.  It’s his D.  He can’t stay in front of people anymore and that’s why his minutes are limited.  

    It always sucks when players are past their primes and can’t do the stuff that made them good anymore. Rip is my 9 year old son’s favorite player and he can’t understand why Rip isn’t any good now.  95% of all of the basketball related questions are about Rip and who he is still better than.  It’s real sad  because I’m running out of bench warmers that Rip is better than.

    • Mar 20, 201311:22 am
      by G


      News flash – Rip was never good at D.

      • Mar 20, 20131:12 pm
        by kamal


        Gotta disagree with you on that one, buddy.  Was Rip a lock down defender?  No.  Could he stay in front of his man on most nights?  Yep.  Besides Wade, when Rip was in his prime, who did he need help guarding?  I can’t think of anybody.  I always thought he was a better defender than Chauncey who landed on a couple of All Defensive second teams.  As a matter of fact, from what I remember, Rip would have to slide over and stick the speedy guards like Parker and Iverson because Chauncey couldn’t keep up.

        • Mar 20, 20132:05 pm
          by Huddy


          Tayshaun always guarded the best wing player.  Surprising that Wade is the first player to come to mind for you of players rip passed off defending…how about Kobe?  There are others and obviously wade and kobe are elite players but Rip was fast and that is it.  He didn’t get out ran, but that is it.  He was on a great defensive TEAM where if his man drove the lane Ben Wallace and Rasheed were waiting to help and on the wing Tayshaun added pressure (and thats only when Rip didn’t give Tayshaun his man anyway)…being fast enough to keep up with his man doesn’t make him a great defender.  I liked Rip and his offense was key to that team, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have flaws.  Asking who he “needed” help guarding isn’t the question, it is who did he HAVE helping him guard people and that was two perennial all-defensive team players on his team.

          • Mar 20, 20133:13 pm
            by kamal

            G, I’ve watched the tape.  Rip ain’t losing track of his man.  He’s rotating and he’s just not quick enough to get back.  Losing track of his man would be like what Iverson used to do when he was with us.  he was ball watching and his man would go back door for the pass and easy score.  Rip is rotating on whoever has the ball.  That’s hardly losing track of his man.

          • Mar 20, 20133:42 pm
            by G

            I gotta disagree with your assessment. The guy he’s switching to is already covered! He spends the entire defensive possession running around like a chicken with its head cut off, but never in the right place. That’s bad defense.

          • Mar 20, 20134:00 pm
            by Kamal

            G, so you’re saying that when Carter was in Jersey, Rip either guarded Kidd or Jefferson? If he guarded Kidd and Tayshaun guarded Carter, then Chauncey guarded Jefferson? so according to what you’re saying, Rip’s primary assignment was Jefferson? I dont buy it.

            And I guess we’ll agree to disagree on the video. We see two totally different things. I see Rip rotating to an open man. You see Rip rotating to a covered man.


          • Mar 20, 20134:27 pm
            by G

            We’re both watching the Bulls-Pacers clip, right?
            1st possession – Rip is ball-watching, Hibbert picks Rose & Rip switches to Hibbert, despite the fact that it’s Rose’s guy. Then Deng gets beat by Rip’s guy because he had to run out, but Rip runs away from the play.

            2nd possession – Rip sags in on Noah’s guy, leaving George open for 3 (which he misses)

            3rd possession – Again, Rip ball-watching, switches to Noah’s guy

            4th possession – Rip’s ball-watching again, which means he’s getting too close to the paint and too far from his guy. He goes to double the ball despite the fact that Boozer’s there, then he follows the pass to Hansbrough, despite the fact that Boozer’s still there, and then he follows the pass again to where he should’ve stayed. Wide open 3.

            5th possession – Rip actually switches correctly here, but he runs away from the rebound & leaves Chicago 4 on 5.

            6th possession – Rip’s ball watching & sagging in on D again (notice a theme?). Boozer is in position to guard 2 guys until Noah can get back, but Rip leaves his guy wide open again to guard someone Boozer already has covered. And then he runs off before the rebound is secured. 

          • Mar 20, 20134:34 pm
            by G

            BTW, in 2004 Carter wasn’t on the Nets, so Rip would’ve guarded Kittles. In ’05, Tay guarded VC and Rip guarded Jeff (who was athletic but didn’t have a good jumper). Buy it or not, it’s the truth. Here’s the clip (which I posted earlier). Tayshaun clearly has the VC assignment, and Rip is guarding what looks like Jefferson, although it’s hard to tell.

          • Mar 20, 20135:01 pm
            by Kamal

            I’ll check it out again when I get home.

          • Mar 20, 20139:49 pm
            by kamal

            Okay, rewatched it.  I still say you’re off.

            1st and 2nd possession, Rip covers Noah’s man when Noah slides over to help out.  Rip is SUPPOSED to do that.  3rd possession, Rip slides over to Hansbrough when Noah slides over to help and then he slides back when Noah gets back.  4th possession, yeah, Boozer is there but his back is to Hansbrough.  You’re supposed to stay in between man and the basket.  Hansbrough is behind Boozer when Boozer slides over to help.  If Rip’s not there, Hansbrough has an easy dunk.  5th possession is good defense until the first shot.  Then Rip takes off down court expecting the outlet pass – something you should never do. 6th possession, Rip helps Boozer.  He CAN’T guard two guys at once.

            I saw only 1 possession in which Rip played bad D.  The other possessions were good.  He just isnt quick enough to get to bother the shot anymore.

          • Mar 21, 20138:18 am
            by G

            You’re supposed to stay between the man & the basket OR the man & the ball. One guy CAN cover two guys, as long as it’s only for a couple seconds and neither has the ball (which was the case). You don’t need to cover Hansbrough 20 ft away from the hoop, especially when Noah is a step behind you. 

            The 4th possession is the worst out of the bunch. Rip crashes in, despite the fact that there’s a guy on the ball & Boozer is in the low block. The pass goes to Boozer’s guy, but Boozer is only a step away & in good position to defend a shot. Rip runs out on 3 different players but actually covers none of them. On defense you should be where the ball is going, not chasing after it.

            I’m not sure how familiar you are with PnR defense, but Hibbert wasn’t Hamilton’s responsibility, he was Rose’s. Rip switching there meant 3 guys were covering 2. Not good. Rip’s guy was open, Deng had to fly out and got beat because no one can change direction that fast. When Deng got beat, Rip was in position to defend the ball, but he ran out on Deng’s guy instead & left George with an open shot.

            If you call that good defense, I’ve got no argument for willful ignorance. 

        • Mar 20, 20132:35 pm
          by G


          Watch the tape. He’s bad. He would always lose track of his guy, much like Monroe. And he gave away a bunch of lame fouls whenever he tried to guard his guy close. Keep in mind, Rip usually guarded the weakest perimeter player on the other team. His defensive stats are always going to look better because he was normally guarding the guy least likely to hit an open shot.

          • Mar 20, 20132:45 pm
            by Derek AKA Redeemed

            Actually there was a point when Rip would guard D Wade, AI, and LeBron because he was so quick and irritating.  He would get under their skin.  Rip wasn’t a stopper but he was a very annoying defender who could frustrate his man with his hands on play or funnel his man into the Wallaces.

            He was all effort and quickness.  If the speed is gone he has zippo to fall back on.

          • Mar 20, 20132:51 pm
            by G

            Yes, I remember him using his hands a lot when defending. They usually blew the whistle a second later. I’d see him get locked in like that, think to myself “foul”, and sure enough, they call Rip for hacking.

            I don’t remember him guarding LeBron. Ever. That was Tayshaun. 

          • Mar 20, 20133:00 pm
            by G

            This is him with the Bulls, but his problem isn’t that he’s getting beat, he’s losing track of his guy or switching to the wrong guy. Which is what he did when he played here too. He had the physical tools, he just didn’t know how to play D. 

          • Mar 20, 20133:08 pm
            by kamal

            No, sir.  he guarded his man.  Rip stuck whoever the opposing 2 was.  Whether it was Ray, Carter, Redd, Wade, Richardson, Ginobili, Finley, Miller or whoever else was considered a top guy back then.

            Now, I remember Tayshaun guarding Kobe in the finals but I think that’s it.  

            And Rip only got those fouls when guys try to body him up do to his weight.  Rip wasn’t in foul trouble a lot. 

          • Mar 20, 20133:20 pm
            by G

            Here’s Tayshaun guarding Wade, don’t see Rip guarding Ray here (or anybody, really), and Rip checked Bowen if he was in the game (not Ginobili). I remember him asking to check Reggie, which made sense since all he would have to do is run around.

          • Mar 20, 20133:22 pm
            by G

            Didn’t say Rip got in foul trouble, I said he gave away fouls because he didn’t know how to play tight D.

          • Mar 20, 20133:39 pm
            by G

            This is just piling on, but Prince guarded Carter, not Rip. The tape doesn’t back you up, buddy.

  • Mar 20, 20136:30 am
    by Derek AKA Redeemed


    Rip was for YEARS one of the best if not the best conditioned athlete in the league.  While he doesn’t rely on high flying acrobatics, he does rely on constant movement to get open for his shot and almost hyperactive quickness for effective D.

    If his back is a problem, it could be robbing him of his ability to leverage his conditioning as an advantage.  I enjoyed the run with Rip for the most part, eventhough his last few years with us was littered with diva-esque headache moments.

    He needs to call it a career.  The ride is over.

    • Mar 20, 20138:16 am
      by KaBa


      If he get’s a good contract why would he do that? Not every player can play 30min per game. Asking him to have 15 good min is not to much.

      • Mar 20, 20139:23 am
        by tarsier


        “Not every player can play 30min per game. Asking him to have 15 good min is not to much.”

        Actually, the problem is precisely that that is too much. I doubt he can play regularly anymore. More importantly, if he’s considering his future, he really shouldn’t. Better to walk away now with his body somewhat intact.

        Unless he’s already blown through his past earnings, I doubt another contract would improve his quality of life as much as the additional wear and tear would hurt it.

        • Mar 21, 20137:58 pm
          by KaBa


          Your right, but how many players have you seen doing such a smart move. Listening to their own bodies? Haven’t seen much of those players, to make things worse we even call them from time to time heroes.

          And it’s not only about the older players, just look at Brandon Roy or Greg Oden. Those two should be aware of the fact that they have an incredible amount of talent and yet their bodies are not built to survive the nba with so many games per year. Playing here in Europe could help them to get some kind of career. There aren’t that many games to be played, so they could rest more after each game.

      • Mar 20, 201311:13 am
        by Derek AKA Redeemed


        A good contract for an older player with back problems with diminishing offensive effectiveness who can’t guard his man.  What’s that the league minimum?

  • Mar 20, 20139:22 am
    by Jeremy


    I’d still take Rip on this team. Look at this set of numbers for some comparisons:
    Stuckey: 28.2 minutes per and averaging 11.2 pts per
    Rip: 22 minutes per and averaging 10.6 pts per
    Rip is in his 14th season. Here is how he compares to 2 other guys that he was most often compared to in their 14th season:
    Reggie Miller: 39.3 minutes per and averaging 18.9 pts per
    Ray Allen: 38.2 minutes per and averaging 16.3 pts per
    Finally, comparisons to the man who traded him and the main guy given up in the trade (actually the only time Rip was ever traded) that brought him to Detroit in their 14th seasons:
    Stackhouse: 16.2minutes per and 4.2 pts per
    M.J. (I know, not even fair to compare but still cool to look at): 34.9 minutes per and 22.9pts per.
    All in all, if Rip was healthy and could play more minutes per, I would put money on him being closer to 15, 16 pts per in the right offense. He simply never fit in the D.Rose show – the Bulls needed a guy that Rose could dish to when the defense collapsed on his drives. Rip needs a balanced offense to flourish.

    • Mar 20, 20139:26 am
      by tarsier


      Rip never really much played with Rose.

      But the key difference between most of the guys you’re comparing Rip to and Rip himself is that they did still play well over 30 minutes. Rip can’t handle that kind of PT anymore. 

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