Hamilton wonders what might have been

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
11:17
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Richard Hamilton, Udonis HaslemIssac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesRichard Hamilton came up big in what is likely his last game as a Bull, scoring 15 points in Game 5.
MIAMI -- As Rip Hamilton peeled off his Chicago Bulls jersey for what he knew was probably the last time, he couldn't help himself from thinking about what might have been.

Hamilton, who played just four games in the postseason, had just rattled off 15 points in 35 minutes in a 94-91 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 5. He kept keep coming back to the fact that in his two years with the Bulls he and the rest of his teammates had never been healthy at the same time.

"That was purpose of taking a buyout in Detroit," Hamilton said. "That was the whole purpose -- to try and win another championship. That was the reason. I (saw) a great opportunity to get that. With all the injuries and things like that that's a hard thing to swallow sometimes."

The fact that Thibodeau refused to call his number throughout most of the playoffs frustrated Hamilton, but not nearly as much as the fact that his aging body wouldn't allow him to stay on the floor with Derrick Rose when he had the chance. Rose's injury last April impacted everybody in the organization but it had a significant impact on Hamilton because he knew that his chances to win another championship went down when Rose's knee crumpled.

"It's one of them things where when we're healthy, it's crazy," Hamilton said. "It's absolutely insane what we can be. That's all I can say -- it's insane. For me, I want the opportunity to play with Derrick. And for me to be hurt last year and for Derrick to get hurt it's like a thing that you wish that you had."

Now it's a thing of the past. Hamilton has been around the league long enough to know that another buyout is coming. The Bulls will give him $1 million to buy him out of the last year of his deal and he'll try to latch on with another team for one more run.

Still, he can't help but think about what might have been if the injury bug hadn't attack he and his teammates so hard over the past two seasons.

"It is what it is," Hamilton said. "I enjoyed it. I enjoyed every bit of it. For me, it's just one of them things like when you've got somebody as great as Derrick, and me playing in the backcourt with him ... it's one of them things like, 'Man, I wonder what would have happened? But that's part of the game. It's part of the game you just try to figure it out."

Would he like to come back?

"I wouldn't mind," he said. "I wouldn't mind to see what we look like when we're healthy. We're never getting that opportunity, but I enjoyed every bit of it, man. I enjoyed the guys. I enjoyed Joakim (Noah). I enjoyed Derrick. But to not get that opportunity to see when (the roster) is full-healthy. It's one of them crazy things you think about all the time."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5