Hamilton's eventual return in Thibodeau's hands

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Hamilton's eventual return in Thibodeau's hands

OKLAHOMA CITYAnother Bulls game, another game-time decision for Rip Hamilton, another DNP-CD. For those not versed in NBA jargon, the acronym stands for Did Not Play-Coachs Decision, and Hamiltons current situation might be the definition of it.

The veteran shooting guard has worked his way back from his right-shoulder injury and has been a full participant in team practices and shootarounds for the past week, yet he hasnt played. Contrary to popular belief, that decision isnt Hamiltons.

Whatever he wants. I know its one of those things where we dont really know the effect of getting hits. We did some three-on-three, but I told him Im comfortable with whatever he wants to do, if we need to get out there and shoot more or take a couple more hits, said Hamilton after Sundays loss to the Thunder. We take it a day at a time. We dont look at it being next week. Hopefully its next game, so well see.

Saturday day we did a little bit more, so its a little sore, but its a good sore. It wasnt a bad sore, he continued. My mindset is if I can shoot, I can play. Thats always been my mindset. If I can run up the court, Im cool to play. I was a little stubborn the first time, so I leave it up to Coach to put me out there when its time.

By he and Coach, Hamilton is referring to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. As much as Thibodeau wants to win regular-season games and have his full roster available to play, it appears that the reigning NBA Coach of the Year is more concerned with going into the playoffs healthy.

Well see tomorrow. Hes feeling pretty good, but I just want to make sure. I think we have to play this smart, Thibodeau said about Hamilton. Hes doing fine. Im the one. Hes raring to go, hes chomping at the bit.

But when it comes to Hamiltons partner in the Bulls starting backcourt, All-Star point guard Derrick Rose, thats another situation altogether.

Thibodeau was typically dismissive when asked about how much Roses absence affected the Bulls in Sundays atypical blowout defeatDerricks a great player, he said. Obviously wed prefer to have him, but we have more than enough.but Rose himself, while weary of questions about his recovery from a strained right groin, did exhibit a hint of concern about his immediate future this season.

Its the same thing every thing every day. Just trying to improve, running a little bit more and lifting weights, so if anything, I should be stronger than ever, the reigning league MVP said. Its up to me, so yeah, I think I am returning before the end of the regular season.

The most Im doing is lifting weights and stretching, trying to loosen up the scar tissue, he continued. My injury definitely is worse than he thought initially. Missing this amount of games definitely hurts, but if anything, Im hoping thats a blessing in disguise. The only positive thing I can look at is Im getting my rest.

At the same time, the 23-year-old remains confident that when he does return, the Bulls wont miss a beat.

Its going to take me a minute to get my rhythm back. Hopefully it takes me a game. That would be great, but well have to see, he said. Im not worried at all. Weve been together for a while now to now each others games. Me being out, just watching everybody, I know everybodys tendencies now, just being on the bench for this long and I think that we shouldnt have any problems.

Roses absence didnt mean the Thunder, led by peers and friends Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, took any pity on the Bulls Sunday.

We know its going to be tough for those guys without Derrick, but theyve been playing very well without him, winning some big games and we couldnt take them lightly, said Durant. John Lucas has been having a great run when Derrick Rose has been hurt, C.J. Watson, as well, so we just didnt want to take those guys for granted and we wanted to come out there and play as hard as we can, and see what happens.

Added Westbrook: It was tough. I know Derrick, if he was healthy, he would definitely come out and compete and wed definitely talk some trash in the summertime.

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

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