Hunter begins new role with Bulls

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Lindsey Hunter knew that his tenure as the NBA's elder statesman wasn't going to last forever.

That's why the 17-year veteran didn't break down or get emotional when the news of his release from the Bulls became official on Wednesday morning.

"Unbelievable," Hunter said, discussing his run in the NBA. "Never in a million years would I have thought that I would play as long as I have. It was truly a blessing for me. Every situation I've been in was great for me. I never look back at one situation and say I regret anything. Basketball has truly blessed me in that aspect and I'm real, real thankful for that."

Hunter said he wasn't surprised by the Bulls decision and that the team was upfront about him through the whole process. You got the sense that he knew once Joakim Noah went down for an extended time period with plantar fasciitis that he was probably the odd man out. The ironic thing is that Hunter's job description won't change much even though he's not technically on the roster anymore.

"[My duties] will be pretty much the same since I've been here," he said. "This is kind of the start of me re-inventing myself the second time. Nothing new."

Hunter will continue to serve as a mentor to Derrick Rose and it's likely that he will start on the path towards becoming a head coach in the near future for some team.

"There's not much I can tell [Derrick] now," he said laughing. "I still share things with him. Always try to keep him encouraged. And to grow into that leadership role that he's become [comfortable with]. Now we have some more young guys that need that type of help. It's just not limited to Derrick. It's everybody who's on this team that I try to help any way I can."

The 39 year old has been replaced on the active roster by Chris Richard, who has already been with the Bulls once this season and is expected to take most of the minutes created by Noah's absence.

"I was hoping [I'd be back]," Richard said. "I can't say I knew because you never know the situation. It worked out. So, I'm back and I just got to keep playing."

Richard has been staying in shape by playing with the Tulsa 66ers of the NBDL. "I played in maybe three games," he said. "I did OK. Wasn't great, but I did OK. Stayed in shape and hopefully I can carry over or do better than I did before I left."

The Florida alum, who won a championship there with Noah, admitted that it was a bit of a struggle getting used to the D-League lifestyle once again.

"It was a little bit tough for me to go back down there, but I went," he said. "I just took it and I went and I just continued to play hard. Time went past and now I'm back. And now I just have to make the best of this opportunity."