Chicago Bulls Are Chasing The Wrong Former Piston

Chicago Bulls Are Chasing The Wrong Former Piston

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.


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  • There are a few problems with your logic. 1) Billups is an amnesty release and Rip was bought out, therefore Billups must go through the entire waiver claim process, similar to baseball, and the Bulls have the last chance to claim him due to having the best record in the league last year. On the other hand, Rip's buy out allows him to act as a free agent. 2) Billups requires the ball in his hand while on the floor while Rip, even at his advanced age, may be the second best in the league at using screens, next to Allen of course. If Billups is running the offense that means Rose is not which makes it an unacceptable signing. 3) You claim Billups is a better defender because of the number of steals he averaged last year. The discrepancy between the two is minimal, 0.7 for Rip 1.0 for Billups, and the reason Billups gets the majority of his steals is because he is a gambling style defender, which Thibs won't tollerate in his defensive design. Rip's length, on the other hand, has bothered two-guards in the league since he entered it. Billups may be the better overall player at this point in their careers but Rip is the better fit for what the Bulls want and need in their system.

  • In reply to pdolan79:

    There are a few problems with your comment, pdolan79.

    1) Billups was waived. And you're right that he's an amnesty release. But that's where your first argument fails. There is a waiver period, where teams can essentially "bid" on amnesty players. But, if no team bids, and the waiver period clears, Billups will become an unrestricted free agent. Billups has been very vocal that he'll be a cancer to any team that picks him up off waivers, and that he wants to hit free agency.

    2) You're right that Billups needs the ball in his hands. But what was the Bulls' second glaring weakness last year (behind Bogans at the 2)? Nobody could handle the ball and create for themselves. CJ was nice, but he's not going to get you 14-16 ppg. Billups can do that. Furthermore, in the 4th quarter when teams are doubling Rose in the backcourt, having someone else on the floor teams have to respect with the ball would open up the floor for Rose.

    3) I simply stated the numbers. Anyone that owns a television knows Billips is a better defender than Hamilton; Hamilton hasn't played defense in six years. Yes, Rip is tall... and he's been little more than wasted height for three seasons. Nobody's scared of, or "bothered" by Hamilton at this point in his career. If you're arguing that Billups gambling would make Thibs mad, what about Rip waving the red carpet and watching his guy score? At this point in his career, Rip is little more than a 35-year-old Kyle Korver. And we've already got one of those.

  • 1) 6'3" is not big enough to play the off guard. It is not even a big PG. Height does matter on offense and especially on defense. Chauncey is only large in the terms of weight. Which he can use against other PGs in the post but it is almost entirely limited to that.
    2) Steals do not determine how good a defender is. And 1.0 spg is not even a large amount. That is good for 65th in the NBA, 81st per 48 minutes, and 30th of 42 qualifying PG's per 48 mins. Generally guards, especially PGs, are among the leaders in the league. Bruce Bowen made 8 All-Defensive teams where he averaged 1.0 spg or more 4 times in those 8 years. And never more than 1.1. In reality neither Billups nor Hamilton is a good defender. But Chauncey has a notorious reputation for his poor defense and is routinely exploited. Rip however has the advantage in terms height and quickness.
    3) Is Rip the unequivocal answer to the Bulls needs? Probably not. However your 14.1 ppg stat is misleading considering Rip played significantly less minutes. Per 48 minutes, his totals dropped by less than a point, but his efficiency improved. He improved on his FG% from.409 to .429, his 3P% went from .297 to .382 (above his career average of .347), and his FT% was ever so slightly higher. Compared to NBA SGs, Rip finished 10th in points/48 min. at 24.9. Billups was slightly higher at 25.1.

    Billups' slightly higher numbers do not make him a better fit for the Bulls. There is nothing new to learn about him. For example, can he play the two? 14 years later, the answer is still no.

  • In reply to wtsoder:

    The whole Bruce Bowen thing was meant to be compared to guy like Allen Iverson who averaged 2.2 spg (3 times he led the league) for his career and never made an All-Defensive team. Just to show that steals do not determine quality of defense

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