Hamilton could miss extended time with injury

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Hamilton could miss extended time with injury

PHILADELPHIA Despite his slender frame, throughout his 13-year NBA career, Bulls shooting guard Rip Hamilton has withstood the punishment of getting knocked around by much bigger men as he runs through a maze of screens, trying to get open for his patented mid-range jumper. One thing he cant shake, however, is a left-leg injury apologies for the hockey terminology, but thats how the veteran describes his ailment that has sidelined him for more games than hes suited up for in his short tenure as Derrick Roses backcourt mate.

Im just more looking at if I can go or not. I think thats the most important thing. I missed a whole lot of games earlier because of the injury. Right now, you just want to be on the floor. Thats just the bottom line. I just want to be out there, Hamilton explained prior to the Bulls morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center, where theyll take on the 76ers Wednesday evening. Not even just that being cautious due to the NBAs condensed schedule, just being out there and being able to play. The last game I played, it was killing me. The whole second half, I felt like I was playing on one leg and then, the next day, its 20 times worse. Its one of those things where you want to be out there I know everybody says, Look at the big picture, look at the end but its tough because you want to be out there now, you want to play now and my bodys not allowing me to play right now.

Us me and the trainer have been talking and its different because it feels good at one point in time and as soon as I start playing, its like, Boom. Come here. What do you think youre doing? Stop it. And thats the most frustrating part of the whole thing.

Its my thigh. You can say my whole leg, my whole left leg, continued Hamilton, who originally suffered a strained left groin, which was exacerbated by a left-thigh injury, apparently now the more serious of the two. Its funny because as the games going on, its just adrenaline. Its a battle of wills, youre just playing and you dont realize it until that thing just says, Hold on. What are you doing? What do you think youre doing?

Its a tiny bit better than it felt after his last game in Miami. Its not worse than since the last game because once the next day comes, once your body comes down and your adrenaline comes down, its even worse than what it was playing.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is sympathetic to Hamiltons plight, but realizes the best course of action could be to sit the native of nearby Coatesville, Pa., until he can fully contribute for a sustained period of time, instead of being in the lineup for a game or two, then having to miss time again.

Thats the tough one. Hes doing all his rehab and what we want to avoid is the in and out. Hes missed more games than hes played, so thats a big concern. So, we want to make sure that hes completely healthy, he said. Rip, hes a terrific player and he plays both ends. Im concerned about him, with this thing becoming reoccurring, so I want to make sure this time that hes completely healthy. I think a guy like that, youve just got to be careful with, so thats what were going to do.

Hamilton is even more down about missing Wednesdays contest because family and friends were excited to see him play as a member of the Bulls after his time with the Pistons ended in disappointing fashion

Its fun, but its sad in the same sense because all my family came to see me play and to be hurt, its crazy, he said. Theyre all excited about me being in Chicago and not to get an opportunity to showcase that in front of them, its tough.

Still, Hamilton is pleased with how hes adjusted to playing in Thibodeaus system and blending with his teammates when hes been on the court, as it has allowed him to display the versatility thats been often overlooked during his career.

Oh, I love it. It fits me. Got a lot of great guys, got a lot of great talent on this team, he said. I always say, When you score so good in this league, thats all people look at, at your scoring. They dont look at anything else and my whole career, I really never got a whole lot of credit, but when I was there, the coaches knew what they had, so to get an opportunity to get to show what I do here is unbelievable.

Meanwhile, Thibodeau noted that another member of the starting lineup is making gradual progress in his recovery.

Luols still out, said the coach. Well see what he can do today, did more yesterday and thats game-time.

Bulls have emerged from a ball of confusion to parts unknown

Bulls have emerged from a ball of confusion to parts unknown

The big red button was pressed and Jimmy Butler was ejected from the Chicago Bulls’ present and future as they finally made the decision to rebuild after two years of resisting.

Trading Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the ability to draft Lauri Markkanen represents the Bulls committing to the draft lottery and fully going in on the Fred Hoiberg experience for the foreseeable future, as the prospect of trying to improve through shrewd moves in the East while also facing the likelihood of Butler commanding a $200 million contract wasn’t palatable to their pocketbook or their sensibilities.

On one hand, making a decision — any decision — can be applauded on some levels after years of their relationship with Butler being complicated at best. But the idea of rebuilding and the application of it are often two separate ideals, because the evaluation of a rebuild can often be as murky as the land the Bulls just left.

“What we’ve done tonight is set a direction,” Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson said. “We’ve gone to the past where we make the playoffs, but not at the level we wanted to. You know in this league, success is not determined that way. We’ve decided to make the change and rebuild this roster.”

“We’re gonna remain patient and disciplined. The development of our young players is important. The coaching staff has done a phenomenal job. We’re gonna continue down that path. We’re not gonna throw huge money at people.”

The Bulls aren’t exclusive to this territory, the land in which they’ve inhibited for the last couple seasons, which makes the Butler trade about more than one thing.

Not equal parts but part basketball, part fiscal, part narrative and finally, masking some mistakes that have been made over the years but are not as easily rectified. Trading Butler seemed to be the easiest vessel used as an elixir to wash away missteps. Trading a star in Butler is also the easiest way to get heat off a coach or front office in today’s NBA, because few franchises like to make wholesale changes midstream or early in it.

Trading Butler — along with shipping their second-round pick in a box marked for the Bay Area — was also financial, considering many felt if he made it through the tumultuous evening that he would finish his career as a Bull, raking in a hefty sum of cash on the back end.

It’s because of these factors that the evaluation of this trade and subsequently, a painful rebuild, cannot be in a vacuum. (Note: No rebuild is painless, it’s the size of the migraine a team can endure that determines the type of aspirin necessary).

Just taking a look at the players the Bulls got back in the Butler trade illustrates the gray area they’ve now immersed themselves into. The Bulls fell in love with Dunn before he came to the NBA, and aren’t as bothered by him being a 23-year old second-year player who struggled mightily in his rookie year.

Zach LaVine is an explosive athlete who can put up 20 every night — when he’s on the floor. Recovering from an ACL injury is no given, as evidenced by a young phenom who once graced the United Center hardwood before his body betrayed him.

And Lauri Markkanen is a rookie with promise, but nobody can make any promises on what type of career he’ll have, or if he’ll fulfill that promise with this franchise in the requisite time.

“There’s always risk in anything,” Paxson said. “But here’s a guy that’s 22 years old and averages 20 a game (LaVine). He can score the basketball, he can run. He can shoot the basketball. He shot over 40 percent from three. That’s an area we’re deficient in. Markkanen shot over 40 from three in college. Again, it’s an area where we’re deficient. It’s trying to find the type of player that fits the way that we want to play going forward.”

[RELATED: Jimmy Butler bids emotional farewell to Chicago]

General Manager Gar Forman stated after the announcement of the trade that the Bulls would have to hit on their next few draft picks to stop this rebuild from being elongated, but even then there’s no guarantee.

The Sacramento Kings drafted a rookie of the year, then two future max contract players in the same year, followed by another player who’ll command close to max money very soon. But nobody remembers Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside and Isaiah Thomas leading the Kings from the wilderness and into glory, unless recent memory has been scrubbed away from everyone.

Inconsistencies in organizational structure combined with multiple coaching changes and an inability to develop the right young players kept the Kings on the dais of the draft lottery every April.

The Timberwolves, heck, nobody could say they missed when selecting LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns and getting Andrew Wiggins in a trade for Kevin Love. It’s because it takes more than the right draft picks, or in the Sacramento Kings’ case, the right infrastructure and environment, to foster an atmosphere of winning.

The Bulls were ready, despite their claims that this was a decision that came across their table right before the draft, because common sense has to be applied. No team makes knee-jerk, franchise-altering decisions that will have reverberations for years to come on the whim of a trade offer from Tom Thibodeau. This was likely decided when the Bulls went out with a whimper in the first-round after shocking the NBA world in the first two games against the Boston Celtics, when their fortunes changed on the trifle of Rajon Rondo’s broken wrist.

It was decided that Hoiberg, the man who endured chants calling for his firing in the second half of the decisive Game 6 loss, needed to have the right type of roster to be accurately judged as a successful hire or failure, and Butler couldn’t be part of those plans.

And just as Hoiberg has been dealt an uneven hand, Butler wasn’t given the type of roster that would accurately judge how he could flourish as a leader, max player and face of the franchise — and probably had less time to show one way or the other relative to his coach.

The longer Butler stayed, the more empowered he would become as his individual accomplishments would rack up because of the dedication he applied to game, the drive he had to place himself in the upper echelon of NBA players.

The better Butler got, the more pressure Hoiberg would be under to mix and match his roster and to foster a relationship with Butler he might’ve been ill-suited to fix. The better Butler got, the more pressure the front office would be under to maximize a prime it didn’t see coming, a prime they can’t truly figure when there’s an expiration date on given Butler’s unlikely rise to stardom.

So getting rid of Butler was the solution and the Bulls have now chosen their path, definitively and with confidence. Emerging from a ball of confusion to parts unknown, from one land of uncertainty to another.

Watch some of new Bull Zach LaVine's best dunks

Watch some of new Bull Zach LaVine's best dunks

Zach LaVine quickly made a name for himself as a prolific, epic dunker.

The recently acquired Bull won both the 2015 and 2016 Slam Dunk Contests and has plenty of awe-inspiring in-game dunks as well.

The video above has a few of LaVine's best efforts.

His signature dunks in the dunk contests were the 2015 dazzler when he caught the ball from behind the backboard and went through his legs before slamming it and the through the legs from just inside the free throw line dunk in 2016.

For in-game dunks, the time he posterized Alex Len in November was an instant-classic. It's not everyday a 7-footer gets dismissed with such authority.

Of course, LaVine's ability to dunk at this prodigious level is in question after he tore his ACL this past season. If LaVine can come back to anywhere near full strength, look for some impressive highlights from the former dunk champ in a Bulls uniform.