Bulls

Hamilton in starting lineup for Bulls tonight

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Hamilton in starting lineup for Bulls tonight

Not only will Richard Hamilton makes his Bulls debut Tuesday, he'll be a starter.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau ended the speculation after the team's Tuesday-morning shootaround.

"He's going to play," said Thibodeau. "We're going to change up the starting lineup. Rip's going to start tonight; Ronnie Brewer is going to be with the second unit."

"We'll see when Hamilton gets out there, what he can handle, he added. "I just want to see improvement from our last game...I'd like to see us take better care of the ball, I'd like to see us finish our defense better, so those are two of the primary things."

Hamilton discussed his feelings on his first game as a Bull, playing a familiar foe in the Central Division rival Pacers -- he saw plenty of Indiana as a longtime Detroit Piston -- in the preseason contest.

"It's a great chance to get out there with the guys and play in a game situation," said Hamilton. "The crazy part about it is, I'm nervous before every game. Once the ball's thrown up, I'm ready to roll. It's the anticipation of getting back out there playing."

Hamilton said he's gradually adjusting to the new system.

"Still learning. I'm more comfortable when we go up and down, and scrimmage, because you're playing off reaction," he explained. "But every day, I'm getting better."

"You can't put a time limit on it," Hamilton went on to say. "On this team, there's no ball hogs. Guys always try to make plays for each other, guys always help each other out and when you have that, it makes the game so much easier because during the regular season, you can get different plays just off individual talent, but once the playoffs start, you really need your teammates."

Brewer, who started the preseason-opening win over the Pacers, was diplomatic about the move.

"I talked to Coach about it earlier today and he just wants to give a different look. It's fine with me. I'm comfortable playing with either group. Last year, I played the entire season with the second unit, 'Bench Mob,' we had great chemistry and that's one of the things we talked about," he said. "I just want to play. It doesn't matter what role I'm playing in," he continued. "Hamilton has been doing a phenomenal job.

"He's picking it up offensively and defensively."

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

'Underdog' Tyler Ulis will fit in just fine with these Bulls

'Underdog' Tyler Ulis will fit in just fine with these Bulls

It's been a whirlwind of a summer for point guard Tyler Ulis, but he finally feels like he's found a home. Literally.

The 5-foot-9 point guard was cut by the Suns in late June, latched on with a training camp invite by the Warriors and was subsequently waived on Friday. It was then that Ulis, working out in California, received a call from his agent. He had been claimed on waivers by the Chicago Bulls. His hometown Bulls.

"I grew up watching (the Bulls)," he said after his first practice on Tuesday. "Growing up in this city, you always want to be a Bull and you’re always willing and hoping that you’ll be here one day...I'm home now. It's a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to it."

Ulis is back in Chicago for the first time since he was breaking records for Marian Catholic High School. Ulis became a five-star recruit for the Spartans and in 2014 signed on as the next point guard in the long line of successful floor generals under John Calipari and Kentucky.

Ulis backed up the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, as a freshman but saw his role increase as a sophomore. He blossomed, earning Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the SEC. Only Anthony Davis had ever earned both honors in a single season.

He declared for the 2016 NBA Draft with hopes of becoming a first-round pick. But unlike the Calipari point guards before him, Ulis slipped all the way down to the second round before the Phoenix Suns scooped him up with the 34th pick.

"Honestly I really did think (the Bulls) were going to draft me," Ulis said on Tuesday when recalling the 2016 NBA Draft. The Bulls took Denzel Valentine with the 14th pick. "But I'm here now so that's all that matters."

In 132 games, Ulis averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 assists in 21.1 minutes. He started 58 of those games, and while his shooting left plenty to be desired he handled the offense well and brought that same pesky defense he showed off at Kentucky. It wasn't enough, even for the guard-deprived Suns. They released Ulis before free agency this summer - which ruffled the feathers of franchise guard Devin Booker - in a rather unexpected move.

"My Mom always taught me (to) never expect anything," Ulis said of his release from the Suns. "When you're on a losing team like that anything can happen. I feel like I showed I could play at this level but they went a different way."

The Suns' loss - they may resort to starting 38-year-old Jamal Crawford at point guard this year - could be the Bulls' gain. Expectations should be harnessed for Ulis, especially with him joining the roster this late in the preseason, but the Bulls, like Phoenix, have question marks at the point.

Kris Dunn is entrenched as the starter, but Cameron Payne struggled mightily in the preseason and Ryan Arcidiacono doesn't project as a contributor. That leaves an opening for Ulis to potentially fill on the second unit, and apparently he's making a statement early in practice.

"Tyler had a real good practice," Fred Hoiberg said. "I think I think he changes the pace when he’s out there on the floor. He picks up full-court, he gets up underneath you. He can make a shot. He’s got good vision and can make a play with the ball in his hand. So I was very impressed with his first workout."

Ulis is working on a 45-day two-way contract, so it's unknown how much he'll contribute. He could be shuttled back and forth between Chicago and the Windy City Bulls, but there's certainly an opportunity for him to stick. He'll be playing catch-up and learning on the go, but doing so in his hometown wth friends and family around him for support will work to his advantage.

"Being a smaller guard growing up in a big man’s sport, you get looked over. So I’m the underdog," he said. "And I feel like this team is an underdog, so we should all be excited to get the season started and prove people wrong."