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Let 'er Rip

New Bulls guard should play Tuesday. What can we learn about him?

December 19, 2011|RedEye

While the rest of the NBA was scrambling to trade for Chris Paul or sign Caron Butler or get the latest dirt on Kobe Bryant's divorce, the Bulls quietly tried to improve last season's winningest NBA team.

How'd they do that?

By signing veteran shooting guard Richard Hamilton of Detroit.

Is he the piece of the Bulls puzzle that gets them past the Miami Heat and into the NBA finals for the first time since the Jordan era? Time will tell.

But we'll begin to get an idea Tuesday when Rip, as he's known, likely makes his Bulls debut against the Indiana Pacers at the United Center in the final preseason game for both teams.

Here are some questions we have about Rip that may or may not be answered Tuesday.

Mask or no-mask?

Hamilton has worn a clear plastic mask on his face since the 2004 season, when he had his nose broken twice and was advised to wear it the rest of his career or risk significant injury. It became one of his trademarks, like Patrick Kane's dangling mouth guard, and Hamilton has called it his Superman cape. But will the tradition that began in Detroit continue in Chicago? Tune in to find out.

Is he better than Bogans?

Last year's starting Bulls shooting guard Keith Bogans averaged 4.4 points per game. Four-point-four! Hamilton, in his 12th year in the league, averaged 14.4 points per game. We won't even expect that this season. We'll take 10 per game and be giddy after watching Bogans.

Headband?

Along with his mask, Hamilton has traditionally worn a headband. The Bulls are famously known for not allowing headbands. Who wins?

Does he look 33?

There's no getting around the fact that at 33—34 in February—Hamilton is old by NBA standards. Someday he's going to start playing like an old man. Hopefully that happens a few years from now.

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