After fully participating in Friday morning's shootaround and experiencing days of at least some contact, it appeared as if Rip Hamilton would return to the lineup against his former team, the Pistons, Friday night, something that even sources close to the situation believed as of the afternoon of the game.
However, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau elected to play it safe and while Hamilton dressed, the veteran shooting guard sat out of the Bulls' home win over Detroit.
"He's real close and I just thought another day would be good. I talked to him before the game and I wasn't quite comfortable with him yet, so I told him to hold another day and we'll see where he is after tomorrow, but he's been doing great," Thibodeau explained. "We've patient this long. I just wanted to make sure that it's the right timeframe."
Thibodeau allayed concerns that Hamilton had any setbacks or wasn't in game condition.
"His conditioning actually was great, but it's hard to read because a game is totally different. Right now, we have minimal contact in practice, so that's where it becomes difficult to read where he is, in terms of taking hits," he said.
"He's going to get hit out there when he's coming off screens and the contact's part of the game, so we're playing it safe and it was more my call than his. We're going to do some stuff again tomorrow and then make our decision after that."
Thibodeau didn't rule out that Hamilton could play in Sunday's marquee matchup at Oklahoma City.
Said the coach: "He wants to play and I just want to make sure that it's the right time."
As far as the Bulls' other currently-sidelined starting guard, reigning league MVP Derrick Rose, Thibodeau was more hesitant to declare the All-Star point guard ready for action.
"He's a ways away. He's making good, steady progress, but we'll see. We don't know how he'll be tomorrow," said Thibodeau. "He's moving in the right direction, he's doing more and more each day. He's getting a lot closer also."