Well, I said it for awhile, I thought the Bulls would be scared of the tax, and here we are. The Bulls are going to pursue a considerably worse player in order to save some money.
It's not over yet. Things could still change, but here we go again.
Sources said the Bulls never offered the full, four-year midlevel exception of roughly $20.5 million to Richardson, citing luxury-tax concerns.
It's not the worst.
Richard Hamilton is a considerably better player than Keith Bogans. This will be a big upgrade for the team to add Hamilton, and I think a bigger upgrade than what the Heat made by adding Shane Battier [who quite frankly strikes me as a bit redundant there].
However, I don't like him as much as Jason Richardson, JR Smith, or Jamal Crawford [2 of the 3 will certainly cost more, who knows about Smith].
Rip Hamilton likes to run curls around screens and perform catch and shoots from mid range. That's his primary use as a scorer. The problem with that is this offense requires running lots of plays for Hamilton to get his shot off.
He doesn't generate his own shot particularly well nor does he shoot a high percentage [or high volume] from beyond the arc. Quite frankly, the Bulls needed improved shooting or shot creation out of the shooting guard position and Hamilton doesn't really provide a whole lot of either.
On the other hand, he isn't someone who defenses will simply leave alone and can certainly punish them if they do. He's historically been a solid defender, but he'll be 34 in a couple of months, and I'm not sure how much he has in the tank at that end. He's got quality size though and has always been extremely well conditioned.
All in all, he's a considerable upgrade, if the Bulls are to land him, relative to what they had last season at the two guard position, but the fear of paying the tax for Jason Richardson [who was averaging 19 points with the Suns before being traded to the Magic last year] should concern fans.
If Jason Richardson on an MLE deal is too rich for the Bulls, this team will struggle mightily to ever win a title. Certainly a full MLE would add considerable salary in the long run, but Richardson is more valuable than Brewer, Korver, and Watson and may have been willing to sign for roughly the same price as Brewer/Watson if we locked him up for four years.
Quite simply, the Bulls aren't going to get a better player than Richardson at the MLE.
Granted, I don't want to jump the shark here.
It's worth noting that:
1: Rip Hamilton hasn't signed yet [still needs to clear waivers]
2: Jason Richardson is still available and could still potentially sign
3: We don't know if Richardson would have taken a full MLE
4: If there is some other plan in place to also help improve the team [Jamal Crawford? Unlikely IMO].
All that said, be prepared to ride the Rip Hamilton express this year.