The Bulls starting backcourt has only started eight games this season, which Derrick Rose hopes changes when Rip Hamilton returns to the lineup after the All-Star break.
"He's a huge part of our team," Rose said of Hamilton. "I've been saying that. His experience when he's out there opens up the game for everyone. We're just patient. I'm just hoping he'll come back soon."
Hamilton has missed 22 games with groin and thigh injuries but has been participating in contact drills during recent practices and could return to the starting lineup when the Bulls host New Orleans on Feb. 28.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said he wouldn't rush Hamilton, however. He wants him to be completely healthy. Hamilton is also likely to see reduced minutes until he plays himself into game shape.
"He's doing a lot more," Thibodeau said. "He's taking on contact now, which is a good sign. We'll see where we are when we get back."