After participating fully in the Chicago Bulls’ shootaround on Friday morning, all signs pointed to Rip Hamilton returning from a 13-game absence that night against the Detroit Pistons, his longtime former club.
The veteran guard dressed in the team’s warm-up suit on Friday night, but he was a late scratch and sat out once again because of a lingering right shoulder injury.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said following the team’s shootaround that Hamilton would not be rushed back and that the 34-year-old would need to be medically cleared and pain-free in his hurt shoulder before coming back to the lineup.
However, Hamilton admitted on Wednesday that he knows his right shoulder will not be 100 percent healthy for the rest of the season – which Thibodeau clearly wanted to see before bringing Hamilton back.
“He’s worked hard with his shoulder, so we just have to be patient,” Thibodeau told reporters. “When he’s completely healthy, he goes.”
Although Chicago fans had anticipated watching Hamilton play for the first time since March 5, when he injured his shoulder against the Indiana Pacers, the Bulls are obviously erring on the side of caution.
Hamilton, who is averaging 11.1 points and 3.1 assists, has missed 17 games this season due to a groin pull, a thigh bruise and now the right shoulder injury.
In place of Hamilton, Ronnie Brewer made his 40th start of the campaign, while C.J. Watson started again, as Derrick Rose missed his ninth consecutive game, as expected, because of a groin injury.
Rose, who just started to run on a treadmill Sunday and has received treatment twice a day while continuing to improve, has put up 22.8 points and a career-high eight assists per game this season. The Bulls are 13-5 without the reigning NBA MVP in the lineup.
“I really don’t know,” Rose told the assembled media Friday morning when asked about when he could return. “It depends on how I feel. If I feel healthy enough to go there, I’m going to play. If not, I’m not going to play.”