UPDATE: Wednesday, July 10, at 7:48 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
The Bulls announced that they will officially waive Hamilton on Wednesday via the team's website:
The Chicago Bulls announced today that they have waived guard Richard Hamilton.
In two seasons with the Bulls, Hamilton appeared in 78 games (73 starts) and averaged 10.5 ppg, 2.6 apg and 1.9 rpg in 22.9 mpg. During his time with Chicago, he shot .438 from the field, .337 from behind the arc and .833 from the line.
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According to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, the Bulls will waive Hamilton before the guarantee kicks in for his 2013-14 salary on July 10:
Chicago will still have to pay Hamilton a $1 million buyout clause. The final year of his three-year, $15 million became fully guaranteed if the Bulls did not waive him by the end of the league's moratorium period on transactions. There is no word on when Chicago will waive Hamilton, though the move could be imminent.
Signed by the Bulls after the NBA's lockout ended in December of 2011, Hamilton was expected to be a bargain purchase who would help lead the team to title contention. Instead, Hamilton's two-year stint in the Windy City was one marred by disappointment, injuries and (eventually) trade rumors.
Hamilton played in only 28 regular-season games during his first year in Chicago, struggling through nagging injuries and a lessened role. He finished the season scoring only 11.6 points per game, his lowest figure since his rookie season.
While most chalked those struggles up to injury and pegged Hamilton for a bounce-back campaign in 2012-13, it never materialized. Again unable to stay healthy—Hamilton missed 32 games with injuries, including a nagging lower back problem—the 35-year-old guard scored only 9.8 points per game despite Bulls leading scorer Derrick Rose missing the entire season.
By the playoffs, Hamilton found himself almost completely out of Tom Thibodeau's rotation.
Hamilton made just four appearances for Chicago during its 12-game romp through the postseason, despite being recovered from injury. The three-time All-Star spoke of his frustrations falling out of Thibodeau's rotation with K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, noting that he still had plenty of support in the team's locker room.
"Even though the last two weeks have been hard, my teammates have been great," Hamilton said. "They were so supportive of me and dumbfounded by the situation. They kept me going."
Hamilton did eventually find himself back on the court for the Bulls. He played extensive minutes in Games 4 and 5 of Chicago's second-round series against the eventual champion Miami Heat, as injuries ravaged the roster and forced Thibodeau's hand.
The process has had to be frustrating for Hamilton, who was once one of the league's top 2-guards. He spent nine seasons in Detroit before coming to Chicago and three with the Washington Wizards, establishing himself as a strong-headed veteran with an excellent mid-range shot.
There is no clear fit for Hamilton on the open market, but don't expect him to give up finding one. HOOPSWORLD's Lang Greene noted that the former UConn standout still has plenty of love for his chosen profession:
ESPN's Jared Zwerling has speculated that the New York Knicks could have interest if J.R. Smith proves too pricey:
The motivation for the Bulls is mostly financial. They are historically a team that does not like to go over the luxury tax, one that already has nearly $78 million tied up for next season before the Hamilton move.
With Mike Dunleavy coming into the fold next season (per ESPN's Marc Stein), Hamilton would likely only go further down the rotation. Exiling him now before his deal becomes guaranteed both gives Chicago cap help and allows Hamilton ample time to pick his next destination.
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