Eight months ago, Rip Hamilton was going to be the difference maker for the Bulls. He would be the scoring guard that provided them with the offense they needed to put the whole package together. It was all set.
Then everything fell apart. Hamilton was rarely healthy during the regular season, and just when he got back and the Bulls were ready for the playoff run… well, you know what happened. Derrick Rose went down, the Bulls were eliminated, and now all of a sudden they’re retooling. They may not match on Omer Asik. They traded Kyle Korver to Atlanta (in principle). They let C.J. Watson go. They may let John Lucas III go.
And now they may ditch Rip Hamilton. From the Chicago Tribune:
Along these lines, league sources said the Bulls have shopped Richard Hamilton’s expiring $5 million deal, which carries a mere $1 million guarantee for 2013-14. Thus far, there have been no takers.
via Kyle Korver: Kyle Korver in Atlanta for physical ahead of Chicago Bulls’ trade – chicagotribune.com.
Hamilton’s contract has value, he has value as a player, and while he hasn’t gotten offers yet, closer to the deadline he likely will.
But this is yet another sign the Bulls are deconstructing.
After building a championship contender in 2010, an Eastern Conference Finals appearance, and winning the top seed in the East two years in a row, they’re blowing it up. This is the new NBA. Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah with a great defense and excellent bench isn’t good enough. Especially when your owner hates paying the luxury tax.
The Bulls era may be ending before it ever began.
Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.
Pacers fans delivered.
They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.
Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.
The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.
“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”
Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.
Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.
Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):
This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.
Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.
He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.
Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.
So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.
Sam Amick of USA Today:
Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency
Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.
There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.
Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.