Rip Hamilton: Will the Veteran Guard Return to the Chicago Bulls This Year?

James Tillman IIIAnalyst IMarch 21, 2013

Feb 22, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Chicago Bulls shooting guard Richard Hamilton (32) holds the ball on Charlotte Bobcats shooting guard Gerald Henderson (9) during the second half at Time Warner Arena . Mandatory Credit: Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports
Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports

Will Rip Hamilton return to the Bulls this year?

When the Chicago Bulls acquired Rip Hamilton during the 2011-2012 season, it was with the intention of providing Derrick Rose with additional scoring help in the backcourt.

I can honestly say I was intrigued when the team signed Hamilton, even if he was on the downside of his career.

His ability to hit the mid-range jump shot would stretch opposing defenses, and he is a difficult player to defend because he moves well without the basketball.

Taking those factors into consideration, I felt the Bulls were making a wise decision because Hamilton and Rose were a formidable backcourt duo; at least in theory anyways.

Unfortunately for Bulls fans, the dream of watching Rose and Hamilton play for an extended period of time never came to fruition.

Rose was out the lineup for 27 games due to various injuries, while Hamilton sat out 38 games last season. Although the two guards combined for 42 points in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, it would mark last time fans would see both players in the lineup at the same time.

The current season has not been kind to Hamilton either, as he has missed 21 games, including the last nine contests due to a lower back injury.

More to the point, according to Nick Borges of ESPN, Hamilton has only suited up for 55 percent of the team’s games since he was acquired in December 2011.

While Hamilton has played well in spurts during his time with the Bulls, he has become the forgotten man, and there is no definitive time-table as to when he could return.

Per Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago, Tom Thibodeau offered the following response when he was asked if the lower back injury could sideline Hamilton for the remainder of the season:

"There's an unknown. It's (a) back so those are tricky, but we just have to wait and see."

With Marco Belinelli’s increased production as a starter, combined with the uncertainty regarding Hamilton’s health, it is conceivable that the veteran guard may not return to the Bulls this year, or even next season for that matter.