Bulls Player Grades: Rip Hamilton & Marco Belinelli

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When the Bulls brought in Rip Hamilton last season, he was supposed to be the 2-guard, the veteran presence, the 2nd scoring option to compliment Derrick Rose. But the truth is, as we’ve seen evidenced in the last two seasons, is that Rip Hamilton is at the end of his career. We still don’t know how Hamilton ended up in Thib’s doghouse this season and beginning of the playoffs, but, whatever the reasons, Thibs made the call that Hamilton was not going to help them going forward. So what do they do with Rip, who still has a year left on his contract? Does he have any trade value at all? Do they buy him out? And with the emergence of Jimmy Butler and the great play of Marco Belinelli, who Thibs clearly favors, what is Rip’s role on the team if he stays? And although he came out in the final two games in the Heat series with a big ol chip on his shoulder and showed he could still be effective in bursts, he has also shown that he can’t do that consistently. And more importantly – he cannot stay healthy. Might be time to hang up his mask. Grade: C-

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One of the great surprises of this season for the Bulls, who did a complete overhaul of the “Bench Mob” in the offseason. And after a slow start, Marco Belinelli very quickly became one of the Bulls’ best scorers off the bench, and eventually found a role in the starting lineup. But what surprised everyone the most, was his defensive improvement and his ability in the clutch. With Derrick Rose out and so many other injuries during this season, plays at the ends of games were written up for Marco. And he delivered time after time. When Rose returns to the lineup and Jimmy Butler takes his place next to him in the starting backcourt, Belinelli will be the Bulls’ new most valuable player off the bench. He can shoot, he can handle the ball and he can guard three positions. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, we learned that Marco does, in fact, like his meatballs spicy. Grade: B+

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