At long last, Chicago Bulls executive John Paxson and GM Gar Forman got their guy. The Bulls agreed to terms with guard Rip Hamilton, Wednesday, after spending months spanning two off-seasons looking for the elusive true shooting guard.
The former Detroit Piston reportedly inked a 2-year $10 million deal after clearing waivers and will join the Bulls at practice Thursday. Earlier in the week, Hamilton accepted an $11 million buyout from the Pistons that will save his former team $4 million in 2011 and another $4 million 2012.
NBA television Analyst Steve Kerr, beloved in Chicago for his role hitting big shots for three late ’90s Bulls championship teams, weighed in on the signing:
Rip’s a guy who can come off curls, screens and run all over the place, move the defense around so that even when he’s not scoring, he’s keeping people occupied, and that gives Derrick Rose driving lanes. I think it’s a great pick-up, assuming he has something left.
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The former Connecticut Huskie’s new Bulls teammates expressed a positive vibe when asked earlier in the week about the team’s probable addition.
“Rip is a winner,” Rose said recently. “I can’t say nothing bad about him. He’s got a championship. It’s great. He knows how to win.”
Luol Deng: “I’ve known Rip since I was 14 years old … (Deng’s brother was Hamilton’s teammate at UConn) … He’d be great guy in the locker room, a great teammate…He’s been there, he knows what it takes.”
Carlos Boozer: “I’ve admired his game for a long time.”
Hamilton does not come without question marks. The spindly shooting guard turns 34 years old in February and how much remains left in the tank is uncertain. In addition, Hamilton spent what could safely be considered a tumultuous past two seasons in Detroit, where he quarreled with coaching over a reduced role.
The Bulls front office has always stressed character and chemistry as a main part of their personnel decisions. ”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 the background work we’ve done,” said Forman. “It’s one piece of the puzzle when you’re evaluating somebody, but it’s a very important piece.”
As long as “The Mask” can still play at a high-level and understands that he is only a small, complimentary piece to the puzzle, this move figures to pay dividends for Chicago.
Will “Rip City” the final touch up in the Bulls championship picture?
Bulls fans can hardly wait to find out.
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