As Bulls players got word of Richard Hamilton's acquisition after Wednesday's evening practice the message was clear: Rip is welcome with open arms in Chicago.
Tom Thibodeau was the lone holdout in post-practice media interviews, declining to talk about Hamilton -- who arrived at the Berto Center late Wednesday and officially signed his contract -- specifically, but the second-year head coach was willing to speak in hypothetical terms.
"If we sign a player and he's ready to go, yeah, just like everybody else, we'll evaluate him once he's here, we'll see what he can do and then we'll move forward," said the reigning NBA Coach of the Year. "Veterans pick up things a lot quicker. Guys that have been around, they understand the league, they understand the opponents. They have to learn your system, the terminology, their teammates, but things do move along a lot quicker with veterans.
"It's similar- - when you sign somebody now -- to making a trade. The thing that's different is you're coming out of the offseason and you don't know where guys are, conditioning-wise."
Hamilton's potential backcourt mate, Derrick Rose, was a bit more effusive about the organization obtaining the shooting guard, who will reportedly agree to a two-year, 10-million contract, with a team option for a partially-guaranteed third season.
"Rip, to me -- not only to me, but to the team -- I think he's a good fit, someone with experience is definitely going to help us. Him winning a championship, being in the Finals will definitely help this team. We're a young team. I've told a lot of people that with him, I'm going to have a lot more assists this year with him shooting the ball the way he does and the way he's in condition, he's going to be able to keep up," said the league MVP. "I think with him, it's definitely going to open up everybody's game. With me working on my three-point shooting -- me kicking it to him, him kicking back to me, me kicking it to the corner to Lu and him making shots -- I think it's going to open up everybody's game, where everybody's going to have open shots."
Luol Deng is possibly the player most familiar with his new teammate, as his brother Ajou Deng played on the University of Connecticut's 1999 NCAA title-winning team with Hamilton.
"He's going to help us out a lot. Offensively, just another option, but really, just his whole game," said Deng, who's known Hamilton since he was 14. "He's a guy who won it and went to the Finals, and the conference finals, so he's seen all of it.
"You add a player like Rip, who knows how to play and is going to help out a lot, it's definitely going to make us better. As soon as he comes, we're looking forward to it."
Deng believes the adjustment process for the veteran will be an easy transition.
"Rip is not a player who needs the ball in his hands. He moves without the ball really well and the way we play, that's going to fit us perfectly," he said. "He's really good at shooting the ball. With the way teams are playing us, just having him on the floor is going to spread the floor even more. It's going to be great for our bigs inside, for the rotation. He's a great shooter that's respected and the defense is going to pay attention to him.
"The way we play, with Derrick playmaking for everyone and everyone moving, it's going to be really easy for him and the sets that we have, it's going to be similar to the sets that we use with Kyle Korver, that he's been using for his whole career."
More importantly for Deng, a longtime friend -- and Central Division rival -- now becomes a teammate.
"Throughout the years, I used to go up to Detroit to watch the Pistons play," said Deng, recalling his pre-NBA days. "I got to know those guys before I was even in the NBA.
"For me, I'm really excited to see Rip here, not just basketball-wise, but he's helped me a lot with my game when I was younger, just giving me tips and stuff, so having him by my side is what I'm really happy about."