While his exact role for the Chicago Bulls next season has yet to be defined - it could, and likely will, change based on free agent signings or other moves - Rip Hamilton will be looking for a comeback.
Question is, can he do it?
The jury - i.e., the Bulls brass - is still out. The 13-year veteran played in just 28 games last season because of a groin injury, which he almost immediately reinjured, and then a severely bruised shoulder.
Despite the injuries, Hamilton actually put up decent numbers. He averaged 11.6 ppg with three assists in 25 minutes a game, which translates into 16.8 ppg with 4.3 assists per 36. That's a significant improvement over the 8.8 points and 2.5 assists Keith Bogans averaged per 36 in 2010-11.
Simple fact is, though, that Hamilton just wasn't on the floor enough to make a truly positive contribution, and management has expressed their lack of confidence in his ability to stay healthy by looking at several combo and shooting guards.
The Verdict: The Rip Hamilton experiment at shooting guard obviously hasn't panned out like management had hoped for. Rip was supposed to be the player that could provide the offense needed to get past the Heat (that's a lot of pressure), and you can't do that if you're not in uniform.
But here's the deal: Rip never really got a chance to find his game because of all the injuries. He didn't get much practice with his new team after the lockout ended (less than two weeks from signing to the first game), and the injuries and compressed schedule prevented practices time between games. Additionally, he played hurt in several of his 28 appearances.
Remember, folks, scoring more than Bogans is what Rip was brought to Chi-town for, and he did that - he just didn't do it very often.
I'd expect that Hamilton, who has always prided himself on his physical conditioning, will come stronger and determined to make an impact. He'll get a chance to practice and gel with his team, plus the groin that hampered him all of last season should be 100 percent.
While he may lose his starting job - which wouldn't be a bad thing, as the second unit will need some scoring - Rip will almost certainly have a bigger impact than last season…if he can stay healthy.
Free Agency Update: The Bulls will meet today with Gerald Green, a five-year veteran who played last season with the New Jersey Nets. Green, a 6-foot-8 guard/forward, averaged 12.9 ppg (18.4 ppg per 36) on 43 percent from the field and 39 percent on threes as a reserve last season, and also averaged 3.5 rebounds per game; all three were career highs. Green isn't a great passer, isn't very quick and is a poor defender, but would provide some scoring and the ability play two positions.
YCN featured sports contributor Steve Merritt is - for better or worse - a lifelong Chicago Bulls, Bears and Cubs fan. He's followed the Bulls since 1969, when he tuned in after bedtime on a cheap dime store radio tucked under his pillow.
More Chicago Bulls coverage by Steve:
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- Rip Hamilton
- Keith Bogans