When he was signed this offseason we all had dreams of what Rip Hamilton would mean to the championship season for the Chicago Bulls. Writers and pundits praised his experience in the playoffs, particularly noting his championship in 2004, and gushed that his knowledge of how to win combined with his scoring ability would put the Bulls over the top.
Well that didn’t work out.
Although he’s got one more game in his first of two seasons as a Chicago Bull, it’s clear that Hamilton’s first year was as much of a wash for him as it was for the team as a whole.
First of all, Rip was injured for a majority of the season and didn’t consistently start in the lineup until April and even then he was still hobbled. Hamilton played in just 28 of the Bulls 66 games this year and averaged around 24 minutes in that time. Health was an issue for this as in the first four months of the season, Hamilton played in just 16 games.
We never got to see Rip perform in the regular season but we gave him a pass, citing his importance in the postseason as the time he’d make his money.
But then the playoffs rolled around and Rip pulled a Carlos Boozer circa 2011, he disappeared.
Hamilton’s best game this postseason was by far Game 3 where he played 42 minutes and scored 17 points. But with Rose out, the Bulls relied on Hamilton to heavily influence and lead the offense for Chicago but that hasn’t happened.
In the four games he’s played in, Hamilton is shooting just above 43 percent from the field and is averaging just 15.3 points per game. But if you look at just the box score you get an inaccurate representation of how unimportant Hamilton has been so far in this opening round (and probably on series) for Chicago thus far.
The Bulls lost Game 4 by seven points, the exact same total of points that Hamilton scored. He wasn’t anywhere to be seen in the clutch final minutes of the game either.
For a guy you pegged to be the equalizing presence of experience on the court in those situations, Hamilton’s absence signals an epic failure for the Bulls experiment with the aged Hamilton.
It was a nice idea and it looked excellent on paper but Hamilton has been a complete non-factor for the Bulls when the very reason he has signed by Chicago was to be there.
Hamilton has another year under his contract and a club option for a third year. But of this level of non-facotring play continues, Hamilton might be looking for a new team after next season.
Plus for the price the Bulls are paying for Rip, his horrible play and injury riddled season is even more painful and bitter to swallow. Hamilton is making $5 million this year and for that the Bulls bought a career low year in points and even though Hamilton’s number have been declining in the last two years, this low of a total wasn’t expected.
For the $5 million the Bulls spent to bring Hamilton in, they bought a total of 157 buckets for 326 points.
That means the Bulls paid $31,847.13 for each of Hamilton’s buckets this year and $15,337.42 per point. In addition to that, Hamilton’s playoff performance — you know the place where he’d earn his money– has been equally as costing.
Injuries can be blamed for a lot of the Bulls problems and Rip Hamilton is no exception. But that’s not an excuse, especially when the Bulls will have contracts expiring in the next two years with Rip’s money potentially on the books for both years.
No one wanted this to end badly and it’s not over yet. Rip could wake up and lead the Bulls back from 3-1 down and lead them to a title and shock the basketball world.
But that’s sadly what it’s going to take at this point for the Rip Hamilton experiment to be considered a success.