- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Over the next few weeks, we'll take a closer look at each player on the Bulls roster and see where they fit in for the future.
Position: Shooting guard. Age: 34. 2011-12 salary: $5,000,000.
Season recap: Injuries marred Hamilton's first season with the Bulls. First, a groin injury during the first week of the season kept him out of the lineup for about two months. Then a shoulder injury in the first week of March put him out for another month. Hamilton responded well at certain points during the postseason, but coach Tom Thibodeau seemed hesitant to use him during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers until Game 6.
Season highlight: After a very frustrating season, Hamilton actually played one of his best games in Game 1 against the Sixers. He was 6-for-7 from the field, scored 19 points, dished out four assists and looked good alongside Derrick Rose. Of course, everything changed when Rose went down with a torn left ACL late in the game and Hamilton never looked as good for the rest of the series.
Season lowlight: The 38 games Hamilton missed due to injury. When Hamilton actually played, he usually looked fine on the floor, but he just could not stay healthy. When he returned late in the season, Thibodeau was very cautious with his minutes and never wanted to push him, even though he was one of the best remaining scoring options for the Bulls.
Notes: Hamilton was brought in to be the missing piece to the Bulls' championship puzzle but he just couldn't stay on the floor. He wanted to be out there and he wanted to produce, his body just wouldn't allow it. Obviously, it would have been interesting to see how Hamilton would have performed if Rose had stayed healthy, but that's not the way things worked out. Hamilton looked very old as the season progressed and increasingly became a target of Bulls' fans frustrations.
Quotes: "With me, it's not all about scoring," Hamilton said in January. "There's so many great players on this team. My job is to try and make everybody's job easy. If it's scoring, if it's passing, or whatever, that's what I try to do."
What's next?: Hamilton is a very proud man and will undoubtedly work hard to get in better shape for next season, but at almost 35 years old and likely playing without Rose and Luol Deng for a big chunk of next year, how effective can he be? Even if he does stay healthy, which seems to be a major stretch at this point, Bulls' management has to be wondering the same thing.
FINAL GRADES: Regular Season: D. Postseason: C.
9dMatt Walks, ESPN.com