Bulls target: Rip Hamilton

The Detroit Pistons are buying out Rip Hamilton’s contract.

ESPNChicago, the Chicago Tribune, and the Detroit Free Press all agree: Hamilton will most likely end up signing with the Bulls.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:

Terms of the buyout of Hamilton’s $12.6 million contract were not disclosed, but a league source said the Bulls likely will offer a two-year deal in the neighborhood of $10 million to recoup most of what Hamilton gives back.

Hamilton’s midlevel exception over the next two seasons would limit the Bulls’ exposure to luxury-tax levels, particularly when Derrick Rose’s maximum contract extension begins in 2012-13. Restricted free agents Omer Asik and Taj Gibson also need new deals then.

Does Rip meet the Bulls needs? Let’s ask ESPN’s John Hollinger:

Hamilton averaged better than a point every two minutes and threw in the 11th-best pure point rating at his position for good measure. At 33, he’s lost very little to age at the offensive end.

While he’s a solid 3-point shooter (38.2 percent), it’s not a shot Hamilton seeks out. Instead he runs off curls or through some other maze of screens to get himself clean midrange looks. He had a harder time than usual converting them last season, making 39 percent of his 2s from beyond 10 feet, although part of the reason was that he had to create some of them for himself at the end of the shot clock; Hamilton is much better off the catch. He’s one of the league’s fittest players and can run all day, so his off-ball movement often exhausts opposing defenders.

Defensively, Hamilton didn’t always seem engaged and he suffered mightily in strength matchups. What he can do, however, is stay in front of quick guards. With Detroit’s freakishly huge point guards, this frequently allowed him to switch defensive assignments and check the other team’s point man.

Their are a few red flags. Last season, Rip’s scoring was down (14.1 PPG versus 17.7 PPG for his career), his attitude became toxic, and he openly fueded with Pistons then-coach John Kuester.

Quite a fall from a former champion who was once known as a model teammate.

I’m sure the Bulls are assuming (or maybe just hoping) that Hamilton got caught up in all the dysfunction and losing that haunted the Pistons the last couple seasons. That team was a mess.

The Bulls, on the other hand, may be the tightest team in the league.

Regarding the reduced scoring, that seems to be a function of his reduced role and minutes, because his Per 36 Minute stats are pretty close to his career numbers.

At any rate, Rip would be a major upgrade over Keith Bogans. And Derrick Rose is a fan:

“Rip is a winner. I can’t say nothing bad about him. He’s got a championship. It’s great. He knows how to win. He came from winning programs. And if he comes along, I know that we’ll be happy to have him.”

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