Chicago Bulls: Issuing a Grade for the Rip Hamilton Project

James DavisAnalyst IMay 28, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 01: Richard Hamilton #32 of the Chicago Bulls drives against Elton Brand #42 of the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on May 1, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The 76ers defeated the Bulls 109-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The season has been over for the Chicago Bulls since May 10, and the scrutinizing of this past season has probably already begun as the team plans for their 2012-2013 campaign.

One of the decisions from their 2011-2012 run that is bound to get a second look is the addition of veteran shooting-guard Richard Hamilton.

Hamilton was added to the Bulls’ roster right before the start of the season to give Chicago the extra offensive oomph that was missing with Keith Bogans.

His scoring and other intangibles were supposed to provide enough to push the Bulls past the Miami Heat and put Chicago back on the grand stage of the NBA Finals.

Well, the team came up way short of that goal since they were eliminated in the first round by the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in six games.

Now that the dust has settled from that hard back-to-earth landing, hindsight can now be used to try and gauge whether or not the Bulls made the right choice in adding Hamilton.

If you just look at his stat line, it’s hard to question Hamilton’s value to this team. His 11.6 points and 3.0 assists per game improved the shooting guard production by leaps and bounds when compared to the short-lived Bogans' era.

The context of those numbers, though, tells a different story.

Hamilton’s production came in just 28 games this past season; even when you take into account that the season was shortened due to the lockout, he still missed more than half of the abbreviated 66 game schedule.

The Bulls finished with the best regular season record for the second consecutive year, and a lot of that was no thanks to Hamilton, really.

To be fair, Hamilton was not brought in to bolster Chicago’s regular season run anyway. If anything, the regular season was to serve as his acclamation to Thibodeau’s system so that he could give the Bulls a better shot at another deep playoff run.

Given that Chicago’s playoff run started and ended in the first round, does it suffice to say that Hamilton’s addition was the wrong choice?

Despite the disappointing end to a tumultuous season, the answer is still no.

Hamilton was brought in to compliment Rose and provide veteran leadership to the young and inexperienced Bulls squad.

Regular season durability issues aside, Hamilton was healthy and ready for the playoffs.

If you remember his Game 1 performance against Philly, Hamilton had 19 points on 6-7 shooting from the field and 6-6 from the free throw line; he also contributed four assists and three rebounds.

The Game 1 Hamilton was the player Bulls management envisioned when signing the wily veteran back in December of 2011.

Of course, Rose would go down late in that game with a season ending torn ACL, leaving Hamilton with a role that he was not brought in to perform.

Everything else after the first game was Hamilton helping carry a load that should not have been his to begin with.

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  Richard Hamilton #32 of the Chicago Bulls drives against Louis Williams #23 of the Philadelphia 76ers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 28, 2012 in Chica
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

As far as issuing a final grade for the decision to bring in Hamilton goes, it has to be an incomplete.

The injury that took out Rose also took out the context in which Hamilton was to contribute to the team, and since he did not have that opportunity, his addition can’t be thoroughly scrutinized.

In all likelihood next season will be Hamilton’s last in a Bulls uniform. The third year option will probably not be picked up as the team will be gearing up for a second shot at making a championship run and will need the money his contract would occupy.

Although they took a gamble on signing him in the first place, the losses the Bulls incurred were no fault of Hamilton's.