The Chicago Bull officially came to terms with Rip Hamilton on a three year deal with the final year being reported as a team option with an unknown buyout. Rip will get one day of practice prior to the Bulls preseason tip off at Indiana on Friday.
So what should we expect from Richard Hamilton?
He's an off the ball player.
I think this may have ultimately been the piece of the puzzle that convinced the Bulls to go after him. Richard Hamilton's greatest value in an offense is when he's moving around. He pressures a defense without the ball in his hands, he wears out a defense with constant motion.
Derrick Rose was one of the most ball dominant players in the NBA last season. Part of this was simply because there weren't other players on the team who could create their own shot, but most of the reason is that Rose's skillset is maximized with the ball in his hands.
Adding a player who's primary strength is moving without the ball and creating shots without the ball allows Rose to continue to play to his strengths while still adding pressure to the defense. He'll create space by making the defense move rather than trying to stretch them across the floor, but the space he creates may be even larger.
He won't get abused defensively
I doubt Richard Hamilton is at his defensive peak at this point in his career, but it's unlikely he'll be abused on the defensive end. He has excellent length, fundamentals, defensive mindset, and is well conditioned. The Bulls won't drop off from Keith Bogans defensive ability by adding Hamilton to the lineup while they absolutely would have by adding Jamal Crawford.
He fits the culture
Hamilton's a grinder who stays in tremendous shape. He's used to working on teams that preach defense. He's used to out working his opponent. He's been known as a great teammate throughout his career, and even though he led an insurrection against his coach last season, he led an insurrection against complete incompetence.
He won't find complete incompetence on this Bulls team and will fit in well personality wise.
Contract fits in nicely
While the contract is presently being reported as a team option for the third year with a buy out if the Bulls don't pick it up, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict this actually is a non guaranteed third year. The difference may seem semantic, but in a non guaranteed year, the final year can have a negotiated guarantee date.
In this case, the date would likely extend to July 14th or so in order for the Bulls to use Hamilton in a draft day trade or S&T salary dump move for another team. The Bulls could send Hamilton and his five million only to have the other team waive him outright and not take on any salary. While the deal isn't being reported this way, it's the only most reasonable explanation as to why the Bulls would agree to a buyout in year three rather than going for two years.
Either way, the super duper tax kicks in three years from now, so adding a contract which is effectively two years gives the Bulls flexibility to shed salary if they need to in order to keep Taj and Omer around.
He's getting older
Every player as good as Hamilton in his prime had a list of strengths that I could write out. Every player eventually had those strengths erode as they aged. Hamilton will effectively be 34 and 35 for the two years under contract. Will he really be able to deliver on the strengths mentioned?
His game relies more on endurance than athleticism, and since he's not creating off the dribble, losing a step will be somewhat irrelevant. Coming around a screen and getting open is more about technique than it is about pure burst, so Hamilton's game should age nicely, however, even aging nicely, 35 years old is typically the end of the line for guys who were borderline allstars in their prime.
Doesn't really shoot threes
While he's certainly not Ronnie Brewer behind the three point line, shooting from beyond the arc is not his strength. It'd be nice to have a cold blooded shooter from beyond the arc playing next to Derrick to open up driving lanes. Rip can do that, but a zone defense with lots of switching could allow an opponent to pack the lane and still keep a body near Rip in the mid range jumper area.
He doesn't create shots off the dribble
The Bulls frequently lacked for a second focal point of attack where they could dump the ball to someone and have them create a decent look. Outside of Derrick Rose, no one on the team could do that in the playoffs at all. As such, Rose was completely wiped out athletically by the end of the playoffs.
If the Bulls had a two guard who could create off the dribble it would have eased considerable pressure off of Rose and his need to create shots. As noted above, Hamilton can look to create shots off the ball, but it will be harder to ease the pressure off of Rose in that matter as making a pin point pass to Hamilton on a curl is difficult if the defense overloads Rose with a double team.
Low TS% player
If you're the type that believes each team gets X amount of possessions per game and whether you win or not is based on how many points you score per X, then you'd note that Hamilton scores less per X than all of the other option the Bulls looked at.
Only in three years of his career (05/06-07/08 seasons) did he really score at an efficient clip. If Hamilton can't score at an efficient clip here than whatever offense he brings us is going to be taking away shots from someone scoring at a more efficient clip which isn't good.
That said, I think the pressure he relieves from everyone else by not being Keith Bogans likely more than makes up for this.
[Very Nitpicky I know] He doesn't play PG
This somewhat goes with the point above, but since Hamilton can't really create his own offense on the ball, the Bulls won't be able to trim their playoff rotation by removing CJ Watson or rest Rose for a considerable length of time.
Also, if we had a guard who could play the point in spurts it would be a much greater hedge for a Rose injury than what the Bulls presently have on the roster.
Ultimately, it's sort of irrelevant because if Rose goes down in the playoffs, the Bulls are screwed anyway. It would have provided a little more insurance and contract flexibility next season if Chicago signed Jamal Crawford though, as they'd likely get a 3rd PG at the vet min rather than trying to find someone a bit better.
12 points, 3 assists, 45% shooting in 24 minutes per night.