Derrick Rose agreed to a new five-year, $94 million contract on the same night he took the floor with the new wing man the Bulls hope can help him get the only thing he hasn't earned in his first three years in the league --- a NBA Championship.
"Tonight at times the game felt easy," Rose said.
Rose and Rip Hamilton were as advertised in Tuesday night's exhibition finale against the Indiana Pacers at the United Center. There are still kinks to work out, of course. Their timing wasn't always where it needs to be, but the way they get up and down the floor, they'll have plenty of chance to perfect that. There are still nuances of each other's games to be learned, spots on the floor where they want the ball most
If the 93-85 win was any indication, however, the Bulls have acquired an ideal complement for their MVP point guard.
"It was fun, it was exciting," said Hamilton, who had 13 points, four rebounds and six assists in nearly 30 minutes. "It was probably the first time I ever played with someone faster than me. Trying to keep up with him every time he pushed the ball on the break was fun. It was exciting because you get so many easy baskets running with him."
It was the team's first game at the United Center for the first time since losing the deciding Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat last season. The biggest difference between then and now put on his patented transparent face mask and a white head band before taking the court with his new teammates.
It didn't take long for Hamilton to make an impression. Rose missed an outside jumper, somehow got his own rebound and drove the baseline before kicking it to the team's new addition for a 18-foot jumper with 10:34 left in the first period.
What followed was the kind of eight-minute stretch that made general manager Gar Forman covet the veteran shooting guard before signing him during free agency.
"He's very smooth," said Carlos Boozer, who had a team-high 24 points and seven rebounds. "It was like there was no transition. He knows the plays, knows where to move the ball and make the extra pass."
Hamilton opened the second half with a 3-pointer before scoring on a post-up move. His behind-the-back pass to Taj Gibson for a dunk midway through the fourth quarter was the highlight of the night. Defensively, he fit right in.
Hamilton plays the type of complimentary game that should make the Bulls a tougher matchup for the Heat down the road.
"The whole team played unselfishly," coach Tom Thibodeau said after the Bulls dished out 30 assists. "They made the extra pass, we got easy baskets, we got the ball up the floor quickly, we played inside out. Offensively, I thought it was excellent."
Meanwhile, Rose's new contract is expected to be announced at a press conference today. Rose said the money won't change him.
"I just know if I keep working hard and treating people the right way good things will happen to me," he said.