After tiptoeing around the question last week, Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau on Monday didn't rule out that Richard Hamilton could be sidelined for the remainder of the season with his back injury.
"There's an unknown," Thibodeau said. "It's a back, so those things are tricky. We'll just have to wait and see."
Hamilton missed his ninth straight game. The veteran guard was a surprise late scratch before the Feb. 28 home game against the 76ers after scoring six points in 18 minutes on Feb. 26 against the Cavaliers.
Hamilton has missed 59 of 132 games since signing his two-year, $10 million deal, which carries a $1 million buyout for next season's team option.
The Bulls' other injury news was more promising. Taj Gibson, who has missed 10 games with a sprained MCL in his left knee, participated fully at the morning shootaround and could return Thursday. Kirk Hinrich moved well in pregame warm-ups and is hopeful to return from his sore right foot during this three-game homestand.
There's no status change for Derrick Rose, who said last week that he feels good physically but wants to make sure he's mentally ready to return from knee surgery. The Bulls continue to leave the decision on whether he plays up to him. Rose has acknowledged he may sit all season.
OLD STANDBY: Thibodeau consistently raves about the Nuggets' criminally underrated Andre Miller, still playing at a high level in his 14th season.
"If you watch him closely, he makes you pay for mistakes," Thibodeau said. "I don't know if anyone in the league throws a lob or advance pass as well as he does. He's great at reading defenses. He's clever. He can lead. He just knows how to win."
Miller smiled when told of Thibodeau's comments.
"That means a lot coming from him and knowing what he's accomplished throughout his career both as an assistant and head coach," Miller said. "I'm glad he appreciates my style of play."
LAYUPS: Forward Malcolm Thomas, who played well for the Bulls last summer league, flew to Chicago to sign a 10-day contract that will be announced Tuesday. Coincidentally, Thomas played 9 minutes, 44 seconds for the Warriors during the Bulls' blowout road victory Friday before his 10-day contract with Golden State expired. ... Nuggets coach George Karl, on whether Andre Iguodala is the best defender he's coached: "Gary Payton would probably shoot me if I said that. So it's tied."
(c)2013 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services