Hamilton suffers injury, but Brewer a capable replacement

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Hamilton suffers injury, but Brewer a capable replacement

After returning to the lineup after the All-Star break, all seemed well for Rip Hamilton. The shooting guard was slowly getting back into the groove, the Bulls were winning and then, Monday evening, the 13-year veteran suffered a right-shoulder injury after running into a Pacers player in the first quarter of the eventual blowout victory.

Hamilton wasnt available for comment after the game, but according to a source familiar with the situation, he left the arena with his right arm in a sling. The same source told CSNChicago.com that Hamilton apparently injured the top of his shoulder and at least early onhell be examined Tuesdaytheres little optimism about a quick return.

He collided and its his shoulder, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said afterwards. He tried to shake it off and at first I thought it might be a stinger, but that wasnt the case.

Although the Bulls are used to playing without Hamilton for the majority of this season, the hope was that he could finally be healthy to ingrain himself into the team permanently and build upon what appears to be promising chemistry with the rest of the roster. His offseason addition filled a need, sharpshooting and his extensive playoff experience is another plus.

I hope that Rips not too hurt. We know we need him to get to where we want to get to, but Ronnie Brewer was an animal out there tonight, Joakim Noah said before humorously adding, Hopefully hell get some massages. Well call the African spirits and pray that hes all right, and hopefully hell be back on the court soon.

Ronnie Brewer, the player charged with replacing Hamilton in the starting lineup, had a solid outing Monday, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds. While Brewer is a starting-caliber player, the luxury of having him come off the bench and add to the teams depth is clear, though the swingman admits that he relishes the increased playing time.

If you enjoy playing basketball, you enjoy being on the court, having success, having your team have success. Last game I didnt play a lot, but I tried to provide as much energy and impact the game as much as I possibly could against Philly. But tonight, a guy goes down and your role changes. Youve got to step up and do your part. I was just glad I came in and was able to play decent, and help our team out, said Brewer.

Were not too worried about it. Weve got guys who can step up and fill the void a little bit. We know what he brings to the table, we know his history, we know hes one of the best guys to move without the basketball, what he does shooting-wise. The most important thing is we have him down the stretch, healthy. We felt pretty positive about him coming back and slowly, but surely working his way, getting minutes. His shot was coming back, his conditioning was coming back. Its just unfortunate he got hurt tonight, but hopefully its not as serious as it looked and we can get him back on the court because hes definitely missed.

Added Thibodeau: Ronnies been terrific all year. Whether you start him, bring him off the bench, always ready, going to make scramble plays, hustle plays. Hes a great pro.

Some guys have a hard time coming off the bench because when youre coming in off the bench, your motor has to be running. Its a much more difficult job at times because youve got to get going quickly and he has the ability to do that. It doesnt take a long time, it doesnt take five minutes to get into the flow of the game. He can start instantaneously and if you start him, hes fine. If you bring him off the bench, hes fine. He just plays.

Five things to watch during Bulls’ training camp

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USA Today Sports Images

Five things to watch during Bulls’ training camp

All the new guys: Last October, the Bulls entered camp with essentially the same roster that lost to Cleveland in the second round of the 2015 playoffs, save for then-rookie Bobby Portis. This time, there’s no Derrick Rose, no Joakim Noah, no Pau Gasol, no Mike Dunleavy, and no E’Twaun Moore.

That’s four starters (essentially) whose performances or presence has been counted on in some way, even through some of the uncertainty that surrounded a few of these guys.

Conceivably, the Bulls can have around five new players in the actual rotation who weren’t thought of this time last year, although last year’s product left a lot to be desired.

The adjustment time and chemistry building starts Tuesday.

Who starts at power forward: All other positions in the first five are set, especially with the new faces. But the pivotal decision for Fred Hoiberg, if it hasn’t been made already, is who will start alongside Robin Lopez at center. It could be Nikola Mirotic, or Taj Gibson or even Bobby Portis, depending on Hoiberg’s sensibilities.

Smart money says it’ll probably be Mirotic considering he’s the best perimeter shooter of the three and actually a decent defensive rebounder. Gibson being a great screener, finisher and defender makes him intriguing as an option, but offensive space will be limited if he’s out there with Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. As for Portis, is he ready to take a step toward consistency in year 2?

The point guard: Rajon Rondo’s basketball intelligence is genius level, where he can master a gameplan and probably even devise one of his own that rivals his coaches. The man can counter a play before the opposing defense initiates an adjustment. That said, how will he and Hoiberg mesh this season? He clashed with Doc Rivers, had knock-down battles with Rick Carlisle in Dallas and George Karl didn’t have it in him to fight anybody in Sacramento, let alone Rondo.

Rondo likes playing the game at his speed, with his own feel and rhythm. Hoiberg will have to tailor his style for the new personnel he has, and luckily for him, isn’t a “my way or the highway” type of fellow that’s sure to rub Rondo the wrong way. Will Rondo embrace Hoiberg’s system and become an extension of the coach, or will Hoiberg give Rondo enough rope to explore Rondo’s intelligence to find a middle ground?

Will that even be enough?

The backup point guard: Just as intriguing as the starting power forward battle will be who backs up Rondo at point guard, although it’s likely that player won’t have to fill the traditional role of doing anything aside from walking the ball up and letting either Butler or Wade initiate the offense.

It’s likely Hoiberg will change his substitution patterns to have either Wade or Butler anchor second units in the second quarter, as a way to maximize the time he has with both while not having them invade each other’s space in the halfcourt. So who plays backup point could be more about who fits best next to the best player on the floor as opposed to who the best player is.

It seems to open the door for rookie Denzel Valentine since he can play three positions (although defense will be a task), along with Jerian Grant, Isaiah Canaan and Spencer Dinwiddie.

Grant was a first-rounder in 2015 who wants to show he’s worth that status, while Dinwiddie was projected as a lottery pick three years ago before tearing his ACL at Colorado.

It’s certainly not the most stressful decision Hoiberg will have to make, but a curious one.

Developing an identity: Does it happen in training camp? Who knows, but tones are often set as to what type of squad a team will be. Last season, Hoiberg believed he was building on a solid foundation after Tom Thibodeau’s defense first mentality, but signs of things crumbling began to show very early in the preseason.

This season, with so many new pieces, moving parts and overall uncertainty, there’s question as to what kind of team the Bulls will be. It’s intriguing, to say the least. But what will the Bulls hang their hats on come late October?

ESPN to broadcast Notre Dame-Syracuse, NC State kickoff still TBD

ESPN to broadcast Notre Dame-Syracuse, NC State kickoff still TBD

ESPN selected Notre Dame's road game at North Carolina State for a six-day option, meaning we won't know what time that contest will kick off until after Oct. 1's games. 

The other two ACC games selected as part of the six-day option are Virginia Tech at North Carolina and Florida State at Miami. Both FSU (No. 12) and Miami (No. 14) are ranked in the latest AP top 25, while Virginia Tech and North Carolina both received votes in the poll. Notre Dame and NC State did not receive any votes in this week's AP poll. 

Notre Dame's game against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium this Saturday will be broadcast by ESPN, the ACC also announced, and will kick off at noon E.T.