In an effort to put a rest to lingering lower-body injuries, Chicago Bulls shooting guard Rip Hamilton (groin, thigh) will miss Wednesday night's game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center and be out of coach Tom Thibodeau's lineup indefinitely.
"Rip is a terrific player and he plays both ends, so I'm concerned about him with [the injuries] becoming reoccurring," Thibodeau told reporters after Wednesday morning's shootaround. "I want to make sure this time that he's completely healthy.
"I think a guy like that, you've just got to be careful with him. So that's what we're going to do."
Hamilton has played in just 11 of his team's 23 games because of a sore left groin and thigh bruise. He suffered the thigh injury in Wednesday night's 95-90 loss to the Indiana Pacers while still nursing a groin he messed up Dec. 30 against the Los Angeles Clippers. After Hamilton strained his groin, he returned from a two-game absence on Jan. 4 against the Detroit Pistons, his longtime former team, but in that game he aggravated the injury and admittedly should not have played as the Bulls won 99-83.
Then, Hamilton missed eight straight games before playing in five consecutive, his best stretch as a Bull, averaging almost 17 points, reaching the 20-point plateau twice, and meshing well with point guard Derrick Rose. Although, he missed last Friday's 107-100 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks because of his thigh, but he returned one game later and tweaked both of his injuries in Sunday afternoon's highly anticipated tilt against the Miami Heat, which the Bulls lost 97-93 in heartbreaking fashion. He scored 11 points and missed 12-of-16 shots against the Heat, although his counterpart, Dwyane Wade -- who raved about Hamilton on Saturday -- also went just 4-for-16 from the field.
While Hamilton is certainly disappointed that he figures to be out for a long period of time, the 13-year veteran understands he must be completely healthy in order to help the Bulls reach the next level. The decision to keep Hamilton out is essentially a no-brainer for the Bulls, who have shown they can be successful even without him. Thibodeau's bunch is 10-2 without Hamilton in the lineup, largely thanks to the men who play behind him, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver -- the former of whom is averaging 8.8 points and 4.1 rebounds as a starter.
Brewer will make his 16th start of the season against the 76ers (15-6).
"Last game I played, it was killing me the whole second half; I felt like I was playing on one leg," Hamilton told the assembled media Wednesday. "And then the next day it's even 20 times worse. So it’s one of those things, you want to be out there. I know everybody says look at the big picture, look at the end. But it's tough because you want to be out there now. [I] want to play now, and my body's not allowing me to play right now."
Hamilton, who is putting up 14.2 points and 3.6 assists per game this season, grew up in Coatesville, Pa.. He played against Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant in a Philadelphia-based AAU league in 1995. Understandably, Hamilton is upset at the fact that he won't get to play against the 76ers.
"It's fun," Hamilton said of returning to his home state. "But it's sad in the same sense, because all my family is coming to see me play. And to be hurt is like, it's crazy. They're all excited about me being in Chicago."
Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, Luol Deng will miss his sixth game in a row Wednesday because of a torn ligament in his left wrist. The 6-foot-9 forward suffered the injury on Jan. 21 against the Charlotte Bobcats. He reportedly could return Thursday night versus the New York Knicks.
Korver received more minutes in Deng's absence Monday and will start again against the 76ers. He dropped 17 points on five three-pointers in a season-high 45 minutes of action Monday against the Wizards.
The Bulls, as usual, are not making excuses, and they are on board with Hamilton sitting out as long as he must to reach 100 percent health.
"We're down a couple players," Rose said after Monday's game, "but there's no excuses."
Heading into Wednesday night, Chicago is 1-1 on its season-long, nine-game road trip. The 76ers are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and should give the Bulls yet another early-season test. The Bulls will start Rose, Korver, Brewer, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.
Thibodeau awarded: On Wednesday, Thibodeau, guiding the Bulls to an 18-5 record, was named the NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for games played in December and January.
The Bulls have the best record in the East.
Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks, whose team is a league-best 16-4, received the honor for the Western Conference.
Bogans finds a home: Former Bull Keith Bogans signed with the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday in the wake of injuries to MarShon Brooks and DeShawn Stevenson. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard started all 82 games for the Bulls last season, averaging 4.4 points in 17.8 minutes per game.
Although Bulls fans directed plenty of criticism toward Bogans, he was well-liked by teammates and coaches. However, he was released following the squad's acquisition of Hamilton.
"Keith will give us defensive toughness and experience," Nets general manager Billy King said in a statement. “He will add depth and versatility to our perimeter."