Reports are that the Chicago Bulls will aggressively pursue former Detroit shooting guard Rip Hamilton in free agency.
Unfortunately, he's the wrong former Pistons guard.
When the New York Knicks agreed to a three-team deal to acquire one-time Bulls center Tyson Chandler in a sign-and-trade with the Mavericks, they needed cap room to fit him. So they used their newly created amnesty ability to waive point guard Chauncey Billups.
The Bulls should be going after Billups, not Hamilton.
Yes, Billups is a point guard.And yes, I'm aware that is the position played by the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player, Derrick Rose. But Billups would be a perfect compliment to Rose. What Bulls fans are hoping to see under their Christmas tree is a guard that can handle the ball and hit big shots to take pressure off Rose; in the last 12 years, there are few guards that have hit as many clutch shots as Billups.
Last year, split between Denver and New York, Billups averaged 5.4 assists and 16.8 points per game in just over 32 minutes per night. He's also still a good defensive guard (average 1.0 steals per game last year) who has the size (6'3, 210) to put a body on a point guard or shooting guard. He's a career 38.9 percent shooter from three-point range, and hit 40.2 percent from downtown last year.
Hamilton, meanwhile, has never been considered a defensive force. His health has certainly become a concern, and he would be seen as a role player at best in Chicago. He hasn't started more than 72 games in four seasons, and 14.1 points per game last year was the lowest he's posted since his rookie year in Washington. He averaged only 29 minutes per game last year, and actually had a lower shooting percentage from three-point range (38.2) than Billups did last year. He's four inches taller, but height matters only if the player uses it to his advantage.
Hamilton is ready for the retirement home.
Billups has a few more good years in him. And, more importantly, he's apparently furious that the Knicks waived him and has publicly stated that he's going to play with an edge this year.
It's time for the Bulls to go get a guard that can hit big shots and take pressure of their MVP. And if they're going to fill that role with a guy that once played for the Pistons, so be it. But do it with Billups, not Hamilton.