Why The Bulls Brought Back Kirk Hinrich
In Chicago, local radio shows have been going berserk for the last week because the Bulls weren’t doing anything splashy in free agency. That seems kind of short-sighted considering the team is completely hamstrung by their payroll, but the truth of the matter is that signing someone like Kirk Hinrich always was going to be the best they could do.
Hinrich, who was bothered with a hamstring injury that really slowed him down in Atlanta last season, averaged only 6.6 ppg and 2.8 apg during the 2011-2012 campaign, and point guards certainly don’t get quicker once they hit their 30s. But Chicago pursued Hinrich so hard not because the fans would get a kick out of it (and they will), but because the Captain can play and defend both backcourt positions.
With Derrick Rose out for most of the season while he rehabs his surgically-repaired knee, the Bulls needed a veteran point guard to hold down the fort while rookie Marquis Teague gets enough experience to take over. At 19 years old, Teague never was going to take the helm of this team from Day 1, and the addition of Hinrich allows him a little more time to figure things out before being given the reins in anticipation of Rose’s return.
But Hinrich can play off guard, too, and right now he’ll also be second on the depth chart behind Richard Hamilton. That could change if they sign someone like Michael Redd or Gerald Green, both of whom the Bulls have interest in, but since neither Ronnie Brewer nor C.J. Watson is expected to get his option picked up for next season, and Kyle Korver is likely to be cut, Hinrich is next up at the two for now.
It’s not clear yet whether Hinrich’s crummy last season was injury-related or just an erosion of skill, but for $3 million a year over two years, this really isn’t a bad deal. C.J. Watson’s $3.2 team option could just as easily have been picked up, though, and offensively that might have been the better thing from the outset. Hinrich doesn’t know Thibodeau’s offense yet, for example, but something like that is small potatoes when one considers the fact that Teague is the backup of the future (if that’s even a thing), and Hinrich allows a smoother transition to that than Watson would have.
We can complain all we want to about what an uninspiring signing this is, particularly after the sub-average season Hinrich had for the Hawks a year ago, but the truth is that this really is a sensible move for the Bulls, who are stuck shelling out a whole bunch of money to other players at this point and simply can’t afford high-profile help. Hinrich is low-risk and capable of at least average returns. In that way, this is a laudable signing and an overall solid value. Hinrich can’t lead the Bulls to a championship, but he can keep them into the playoff picture while Rose heals. Hey, he’s done it before, right?