Bulls' general manager Gar Forman won't have any trouble selling his acquisition of Rip Hamilton in the Bulls' locker room. Players have been raving about the veteran two-guard who signed a three-year, $15 million dollar contract with the team on Wednesday night.
"We thought we played hard all year last year and we've got guys that work really hard." Luol Deng said. "So going into the season I was pretty confident with how hard we were going to play. I'm not really worried about that. You add a player like Rip, he knows how to play and is going to help out a lot. He's definitely going to make us better as soon as he comes and we're looking forward to it."
Deng knows Hamilton well. His brother played with Hamilton on Connecticut's 1999 national championship team. Others Bulls who don't know Hamilton personally are familiar with his game.
"Especially in New York, just watching UConn a whole bunch, especially when they won the national championship. I've been watching his whole career," said Taj Gibson, who grew up in Brooklyn. "To have a veteran like that on our team is going to be great. I'm looking forward to the camaraderie. I know we're going to work him in like a brother already. I'm just looking forward to getting him on the court and hopefully we'll gel soon enough."
Hamilton's impact will not only be felt on the offensive end, where his ability to shoot from outside and create off the dribble should help ease the load on Derrick Rose, but also on defense.
"With the way we play we really help out each other a lot on defense," Deng said. "Rip is really experienced. He's going to help us out a lot. Offensively, he's going to be another option. But just his whole game. It's not just going to be scoring. Especially at this time in his career, he's going to want to help especially all of us. We experienced a lot last year with how far we went and he's a guy who went to the Finals and has been in the Conference Finals. So he's seen all of that. He's going to help out in that aspect the most."
Especially during their 2004 NBA title run, the Pistons used a lot of the same defensive principles as the Bulls, which should ease Hamilton's transition.
"Every time you just think of teams that win, teams that are winning championships, they all have great defense," Deng said. "That's something that a lot of people are asking about. Rip is familiar with that. He has been on a team that won it all and that played defense and he was part of it. So, it's not going to be something new to him."
Nobody, from coach Tom Thibodeau to guard Derrick Rose to Deng are concerned about Hamilton struggling to fit in with the team. Thibideau even refused to eliminate the possibility of Hamilton playing in the exhibition opener at Indiana on Friday night.
"I really don't think long," Deng said. "The way we play with Derrick play-making for everyone and just everyone moving, it's going to be really easy for him. The sets we have are going to be similar to the sets we use with Kyle [Korver] that he's been seeing his whole career. You can sense that everyone is excited for him to be here and from what I hear, I haven't spoke to him yet, I'm sure he's really happy to be here. It's just a matter of time to get our rhythm and timing together."