Richard Hamilton has been perfecting his sulking game in Detroit over the last year or so, and the Pistons are finally done with him. According to Perry Farrell of the Detroit Free Press, the Pistons have agreed to buy out Hamilton’s contract and make him an unrestricted free agent.
Farrell makes the important distinction that Hamilton is not being waived by way of the amnesty clause; this is a good old-fashioned buyout, though the terms of which have not yet been disclosed. Regardless, Hamilton’s full $12.5 million will stay on the Pistons’ books for cap purposes this season, along with whatever portion of his salary is guaranteed in 2012-2013. This also means that Hamilton will enter the free agent pool without incident, as opposed to amnestied players who would first enter into an auction system exclusively for teams under the salary cap. Hamilton may immediately sign with the team of his choosing, so long as they have cap room or salary cap exceptions to spare.
The Chicago Bulls — who have been linked to Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler, and various other shooting guard candidates in recent weeks — immediately come to mind as a possible landing spot for Hamilton. Having both Crawford and Hamilton on the market could make both players a bit more affordable, and all things considered, Hamilton seems like a better fit. Hamilton is relentless in his pursuit of open spot-up jumpers, and his work without the ball in his hands would seem to complement Derrick Rose’s ball-dominant style rather splendidly. Chicago wants the ball in the hands of its best player, and Hamilton — who is also a pesky defender and a competent three-point threat — may be the best wing addition to keep control of the offense with Rose.
That said, if Chicago is looking for another ball handler to alleviate some of the pressure on Rose, Crawford may be their guy, making Hamilton available to what’s sure to be a long list of suitors. With the mess in Detroit behind him, there’s no reason Hamilton can’t be a very productive player for a team in need of backcourt scoring. The deconstructed Pistons just weren’t a good match for him anymore, as evidenced by the mutually beneficial decision to buy out his contract. Hamilton is by no means a player worth some huge salary commitment (he’s 33 years old, after all, and shares in Crawford’s inefficient reliance on mid-range jumpers), but a quality, two-way wing tumbling into the free agent bin could change a number of teams’ plans.