Hamilton returns and starts over Belinelli

In a move surprising few but angering many, Rip Hamilton returned from injury to reclaim his starting spot over Marco Belinelli.

The good news

Though playing sparingly due to a minutes cap placed on him by Tom Thibodeau, Rip Hamilton played reasonably effectively. He certainly wasn't afraid to get the ball up, firing five shots in his first five minutes or so on the floor. He shot four of nine, but also missed an array of wide open mid range shots.

He looked like he was moving well though, and if the Bulls are looking to trade him by the deadline for salary relief then they'll likely need to get him some quality run under his belt prior to that point.

Of course, trading Rip Hamilton for salary relief just lowers the Bulls already small chance of winning a title this season, so I'm not particularly rooting for it, though it'd certainly give me plenty of blog fodder for awhile.

Meanwhile, Marco Belinelli was moved back to the bench, and he still played well shooting 7/16 for 17 points. There was some concern that Belinelli might struggle in the bench role because he struggled earlier with that role, but it looks more like he was struggling with confidence than the role.

How important is the starting role?

Now it certainly isn't important who starts relative to minutes played and who finishes. However, the starter has a massive advantage in terms of getting minutes and being ready to finish. When coming in as a reserve (say at the 8 minute mark in the 1st and 3rd), the most minutes you can play is 32 if you play two consecutive stretches of 16 minutes straight.

You're much fresher and more well rested if you are the starter and play the first eight minutes of the 1st/3rd and the last eight of the 2nd/4th which probably increases performance at least somewhat. Granted I don't think conditioning will play a large role either way.

While Belinelli has earned the starters advantage by playing better than Rip Hamilton ever has as a Chicago Bull, if the Bulls are shopping Rip their decision makes sense. However, it strikes me as highly unlikely that management has directed Thibodeau to start Rip in order to shop him.

If the Bulls can't trade Rip this problem gets much bigger

So let's assume for the sake of argument that we're in late February, we've re-established Rip as the starter and are unable to move him at the deadline. Derrick Rose returns after the all-star break.

Who's playing SG now?

Maybe for a little while Derrick Rose played 15 minutes a night and things are still fairly simple to figure out. However, we make it to mid-march, Rose goes Adrian Peterson on the league and demands to the coach play me like I've never been injured. I've been popping HGH like they're M&Ms and they reattached my ACL with that liquid metal stuff from terminator 2.

At some point, Rose's minutes go up to say 35 a game. Kirk Hinrich only has 13 minutes at back up PG which would be better served to give to Nate Robinson [whose minutes of course undeservingly go to zero], but of course we won't because of the money owed. On top of that, there will be a feeling that 13 minutes a night isn't enough to fully absorb the 10 PER experience.

He'll have to get some time in at the SG position which will now be more crowded as Rip will be off his minute restriction and also likely looking to play more than 15 minutes a night (which he's already said his body's ready for more minutes).

All of a sudden it's easy to see Belinelli gets squeezed significantly in terms of minutes at which point his confidence likely drops and his performance begins to dip. So now, we've taken the best guy to start next to Rose (can help relieve ball handling duties, create, drive, and shoot threes) minimized his minutes with Derrick, undermined his confidence, and minimized his role.

Belinelli would be only the second SG to play next to Rose that could do both those things [the other being Ben Gordon]. The Bulls would benefit from this tremendously, but they won't. Thibodeau will be too stubborn to adjust and do the right thing.

This is really why starting Hamilton now is a critical mistake, because it sets up the much larger mistake later. Sure, it's possible that the Bulls could start him until the trade deadline and then bench him for Marco after Rose gets back, but it won't happen that way.

But hey, Rip Hamilton has earned this loyalty by never in his entire Bulls career playing as well as Belinelli has as a starter, so of course the whole thing makes sense (the Bogans kind).

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  • @doug, I think this would be a good problem to have since someone is always hurt. Could potentially have a good deep bench once rose returns. No point in trading if it doent make us better. But it's all about the money with bulls FO.

  • Rip is being used in the Bogans role of starting but playing limited minutes. Belinelli should be finishing the games like korver did for us when he was here. I don't like Rip starting either but we do need his ugly inefficient volume scoring. Plus how long can rip stay healthy? he'll continue to see limited minutes so its not that big of a deal to me. I'd like to see a few more minutes of Butler and a few less minutes of Deng. Again Deng is shooting a poor fg% of 43%, I just think he does wear down with all those 45 minute games. The same with Noah, he needs to be cut down to 35 minutes and have Nazr eat those 5 minutes. Nazr is pretty dreadful on defense but he could rebound and the Bulls have been getting hammered on the boards so fo him to eat a few minutes in the first half is a good thing. Belinelli should get at least 30 minutes a game and Hamilton limited to 20 minutes a game. These two are not the problem, they both deserve minutes and Deng deserves some rest!

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    I think I agree with everything you said. I just don't know if it will all happen. I could see Deng's minutes going down some, but I don't know if they can afford to cut Noah's at all. It would be nice if they could trade Hinrich/Hamilton/ or Robinson for a good reserve center. I think that the playing time between Belinelli and Hamilton will go to whoever is playing better. It could turn into a plus. Maybe they will finally have someone coming off the bench who can score.

  • Bulls found minutes for Rose, Watson, and Lucas last year. I think they can find minutes for players this year. Everyone might not be happy with their minutes but it could still work. Teague is probably the one left out, which would be a shame. Teague will get a chance next year, though.

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  • another layup drill by the opposing team. when will the Bulls address the shotblocking problem? Thibs was foolish, a Noah-Asik frontline would of been awesome, they would of figured it out on offense.

  • Tried to watch the Bulls/ Bobcats game but couldn't stomach it all the way through it was getting me pissed off. I must say the Bulls are an ugly team to watch. Just an overall sloppy game on both ends of the court. Defense and rebounding is pretty much what has carried us this far this season and it appears they've lost there way. Either that or the NBA has adjusted to them. And offensively we're a monstrosity. Without Deng and Noah putting up big numbers we have no consistent offense whatsoever. If you look at the stats you would think Boozer had a good game, but like I've said before no matter how good of a game he has he's still a liability on defense which counters whatever good he's done on offense. BTW I hate the way Boozer grabs rebounds. He just waits for the ball to come to him when he should be boxing out and beasting down the rebound. smh this bout to be a long season.

  • In reply to J Man:

    nice of someone else to point out that the Clownzer is a phony rebounder, and that he probably leads the league in rebounds of missed free throws, the aspect of the game in which he tries the hardest. As usual his "best" games statistically always come in Bulls losses, especially those in which we don't even compete.

    To be fair, Noah apparently celebrated NYE last night, not sure why since he had a matinee today and an offday tomorrow.

  • Just as I suspected, I tune in to watch the last few minutes of the Bulls game against the Bobcats and they're losing to one of the worst teams in the league. The team that the bulls owner has put on the floor is pathetic. Good job Bobcats in snapping your 18 game losing streak against one of, no... the most conservative and cheap owned organizations in the NBA THE CHICAGO BULLS...BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Good thing you just caught the last few minutes, that was a pathetic game to watch and a waste of time.

  • In reply to J Man:

    Yeah this is the very reason why i wont bring myself to watch this team this year. I may try to watch when Rose returns in support of his comeback but other than that, I cant stand to watch a lot of the garbage thats out their playing for the Bulls that the owner put on the floor.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    And the Bulls fans at the game are equally as pathetic as the bulls team just sitting there with blank looks on their faces.Rose wwon't save this team, oh well back to watching the other teams in the NBA that have more of a entertaining and winning attitude about them.

  • The Bulls checked out in the 4rth quarter of the Knicks game and haven't checked back in yet.

  • Anyone else expected to see more of Jimmy and Deng out there at the same time given the utter atrocity that was the Bulls' perimeter defense? Proves Thibs doesn't consider Butler ready for that Brewer role.

    I usually keep the volume muted because of the couple of homers the local broadcast have for announcers get too tiring. I turned up the volume partway through to see how they were spinning this one. I've got to say, I think this must be the most under-reported story in modern sports history. Whenever a player joins the Bulls team, he suddenly ceasing committing any fouls. No legitimate ones anyway. It's extraordinary. That's not even the kicker. Because as soon as that player switches teams, he's back to committing fouls again. Crazy... just crazy. It's also striking that a team which has lost 18 straight is supposedly hungry to win and ready to play and knock off the Bulls. You'd think they'd have that hunger after losing two or three, not 18. Keep polishing that turd, Stacey. The fair weather kind of fans you cater to want to see it sparkle.

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