The Bulls hosted media day at their practice facility Sunday, and while at such events the attention is usually focused on the players, coaches and front-office staff in attendance, there were two distinct elephants in the room. The first was Hamilton, who still is reportedly Chicago bound once his contract is officially bought out by the Detroit Pistons.
The other was none other than the Miami Heat, who eliminated the Bulls from the Eastern Conference Finals last season and remain the team to beat in the East.
"Our goal is to win a championship," Derrick Rose said. "We have a decent shot with the guys we've got coming back. We don't know what else is going on but I know the front office is doing a great job getting whoever from wherever. I have a lot of belief in my teammates and I know they have a lot of confidence in me and faith in me as a player. That's all we need."
Gar Forman said his intention all along has been to put the same nucleus on the floor as last season. The Bulls general manager likes the makeup, character and chemistry players developed and believes this group has earned the right to grow and mature.
But that doesn't mean he's not looking to add a piece or two to a roster that currently stands at 11.
"We're still exploring ways we can improve this basketball team moving forward," he said. "We still have some roster spots and a little bit of flexibility and we're exploring options as far as making additions to this team and hopefully something will happen in regards to that in the next few days."
Foreman refused to talk specifically about Hamilton since he is still technically a member of the Pistons until he clears waivers. He would also need to pass a physical before coming to Chicago.
"We've been in contact with a number of players and we've really tried to explore a number of different options to improve this basketball team," Forman said. "If we identify the right player or players that we feel give us a chance to get better we'll certainly make a move. That said, our feeling has always been we're not going to make a move just to make a move. If we don't feel it's a plus for this team, we'll bring this team back as is and feel really good about our group of guys and give them a chance to continue to grow."
Forman wouldn't discuss Hamilton but several players said they would welcome the veteran who was a key piece of the Pistons 2004 title team. These Bulls are so focused on winning that even Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer, whose minutes could be dramatically impacted by Hamilton's arrival, are all for the signing if it helps the Bulls leapfrog the Heat.
"I've known Rip since I was 14 years old," Luol Deng said. "Rip played college basketball with my brother. I used to go up to UConn to workout with those guys. The one thing I could say about Rip is all his teammates like him. If Rip was to come here he would be a great guy in the locker room, a great teammate. I know that from the guys in Detroit. They love playing with him.
"He's a guy that won a championship. He's been there. He knows what it takes. If he joins us I'm sure he'll make us better."
Forman said the Heat's signing of swingman Shane Battier doesn't increase his urgency to sign a player to keep pace. While the Bulls would certainly be interested in Dwight Howard now that the All-Star center has told the Orlando Magic he wants to be traded, Forman would not talk specifically about that possibility, either.
"It's our job to be in touch with all 29 teams around the league, and we have been in the last week, and to keep the pulse of what's going on in the market and keep a pulse of what's going on in any trade possibilities," he said. "But I wouldn't mention individual names or share our business or who we're talking to as far as players are concerned. We're having conversations throughout the league."
Rose has consistently maintained that he's confident in his team as currently constructed. He blames himself for the loss to the Heat. But he continues to speak highly of Hamilton, who is the type of player who could help the Bulls achieve their ultimate goal.
"He's always in perfect shape and running around, especially for his age, and he has the experience where he was a winner, even in college, probably in high school," Rose said. "I know he'll help us if we get him."