Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was looking for answers. No Derrick Rose, no Luol Deng, no consistent offense, he needed points.
He finally got some Wednesday night from Richard Hamilton (but you can call him Rip) — 15 points in 35 minutes. He was a team best +12 on the night. The veteran who had been buried on the bench came through with a vintage game. It wasn’t enough — the Bulls have gone fishing for the summer after being eliminated by the Heat — but it was a spark they missed much of the series.
A lot of people want to know why we didn’t see more of Rip Hamilton before… and that includes Rip himself, reports Aggrey Sam at CSNChicago.com.
“I have great guys here. That’s what made my job fun. Even though they last two weeks were hard, difficult, my teammates have been great, all the way from Derrick to Luol, to Booz, to Noah, to Jimmy. Everybody was so supportive, I was just like dumbfounded about the situation. But they kept me going. They kept me positive.”
Hamilton has battled injuries for his two years in Chicago and never really got into Thibodeau’s rotation consistently. Even when Rip was saying he was healthy this season Thibodeau was saying he wasn’t and had him glued to the bench. Maybe it was concerns about defense, maybe it was a lot of things.
But with Thibs out of options Hamilton played 21 minutes in the Bulls blowout loss in Game 4 and had 11 points, so that earned him another shot. And in Game 5 he made the most of it.
“It’s crazy because playing 19 straight minutes, I haven’t done that all season. Playing in the fourth quarter, I haven’t done that all season,” Hamilton said. “But it’s just one of those things, where you’ve just got to deal with it. You’ve just got to be able to respond.”
The Bulls have a $5 million option on Hamilton next season, or they can buy him out for $1 million. Bet on the buyout.
But the way he played on Wednesday has me thinking he may get another shot somewhere else next season.