DEERFIELD, Ill. — Richard Hamilton is on the verge of joining the Chicago Bulls.
A person familiar with the situation said the veteran guard was closing in on a three-year, $15 million deal with the Bulls. The person spoke Wednesday afternoon on the condition of anonymity because the contract had not been finalized.
The three-time All-Star cleared waivers as expected after being bought out by Detroit this week, ending a nine-year run in which the Pistons won a championship and regularly made the Eastern Conference finals.
Assuming his deal with the Bulls goes through, the 6-foot-7 Hamilton would join MVP Derrick Rose and give Chicago another scoring option along with the height it was seeking in the backcourt.
Hamilton was due to make $19 million guaranteed over the final two years of his contract in Detroit but was bought out for $11 million, saving the rebuilding team $4 million in cap space this year and $4 million more next season.
Coach Tom Thibodeau wasn't in the mood to discuss Hamilton after practice Wednesday morning, saying, "Until he gets here, we're not even going to talk about it."
Hamilton, who is entering his 13th year in the league, was expected to join a team that led the NBA with 62 wins last season and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals before losing to Miami.
The Bulls are looking for more.
With the reigning MVP and one of the league's deepest rosters, they believed they were in position to make another big run whether they added a shooting guard or not. Hamilton should help take some of the scoring load off Rose, but he is also coming off a difficult season at age 33. He and some of his teammates clashed with former coach John Kuester, and he scored just 14.1 points per game, his lowest average since his rookie season.
The Pistons had planned to reload with Hamilton when they traded Chauncey Billups to Denver in 2008, but they've been struggling ever since.
During the good times, though, Hamilton was one of the best players on a team that reached at least the conference finals six straight years and captured the championship in 2004. He has averaged 17.7 points in a career that started in 1999 with Washington and flourished in Detroit after being acquired in the Jerry Stackhouse trade.
Relentlessly running around screens to set up his mid-range jump shots, Hamilton averaged more than 20 points over 120 playoff games with the Pistons and led them in scoring in eight of his nine regular seasons there.
He is one of four active players — Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are the others — and 20 in NBA history who have averaged at least 20 points over 120 postseason games, according to STATS LLC.
Bulls players have made it clear in the recent days that they think Hamilton can help, and center Joakim Noah had high praise for him on Wednesday. He also went out of his way to complement Ronnie Brewer.
"I think (Hamilton) would be a great addition to our team," Noah said. "He's obviously a hell of a player, but Ronnie's been having a great camp right now."
Hamilton will have to be a quick study, as will anyone else the Bulls add.
They open the season against the Lakers in Los Angeles on Dec. 25, and they only have two preseason games — at Indiana on Friday and at home against the Pacers next Tuesday.
"You deal with those things as they come," Thibodeau said. "It's not like it's the first time you'll be getting someone new. That happens often in this league. It's a league of change and you have to be ready to adapt to changes very quickly and your opponent isn't really concerned with that. It's up to us as a staff to get everyone up to speed and be ready to go."