[Update by your friendly BullsBlogger, 01/11/13 10:16 AM CST:
KC Johnson had a mini-profile on Rip today, and included this reporting:
It's unlikely Hamilton will be dealt before the Feb. 21 trade deadline. But executives for two rival teams said the leaguewide perception is that Hamilton is available for the right offer, and a team source said the Bulls have fielded at least one call gauging his availability.
This kind of slipped under my radar when it was first published, though it did pop up later in a comments section here. Rare Gar Forman comments about a player (or anything). And specifically about a player who has been rumored to be on the market, Rip Hamilton.
One problem with those rumors: Coach Tom Thibodeau isn't looking to stand in the way of management's decisions, but there's enough of a relationship between him and the front office that the head chef is at least allowed to have some say in what he's cooking.
Thibodeau thinks Hamilton's presence in the second half of the season, as well as the playoffs, will be huge from a leadership standpoint. That's why he has gone out of his way to make sure Hamilton, 34, was on a minutes watch during the first part of the season, trying to keep him between 20 and 25 per game.
If Hamilton's future was in doubt or if they were looking to move him, minutes wouldn't be such an issue.
That last part can be theoretically dispelled quite easily with the idea that they're limiting Rip's minutes just so his trade value stays high, but I don't doubt that Thibs likes having Rip around. Especially without Derrick Rose, the offense really uses Rip as a primary action in a lot of their plays. And for all of his failings (that only increase as he gets older), he can still take on a lot that responsibility. He's also the type of smart veteran that any coach would like.
Then again, Thibs probably would've liked to have kept his bench from the past two seasons around as well, and we know how that went. So with that context of 'basketball decisions' and 'we'll match offers to Asik' in mind, here's a line from Gar Forman to be mindful of:
Forman said the idea that the Bulls need to shed salary by dumping the rest of the $5 million Hamilton will make this season to stay under the hard cap isn’t accurate.
First of all, this is yet another instance of the reporter not understanding the differences between the cap, tax, tax apron (hard cap), etc. No, they don't need to deal Rip to get under the hard cap, because that wouldn't make any fucking sense to be over a hard cap in the first place.
However, it's been rampant speculation all season that the Bulls wouldn't pay the luxury tax for this team (they totally will later!) and Rip's the obvious way to get avoid that threshold. Even the signing of someone off of waivers like Daequan Cook immediately brought more thoughts on the inevitability of Hamilton's departure.
I guess we'll see. I'm sure Thibs wouldn't rather have Cook than Hamilton, either. But that's a basketball decision.