Kirk Hinrich, fated to come back or injury fill in?

It seems since the day Kirk was traded away that it was only a matter of time before the organization brought him back. Mark Deeks of shamsports predicted that Kirk would sign with the Bulls six months prior to it happening and was hardly alone in that assumption. I wonder to myself whether the signing was really fated or whether the Rose injury forced the Bulls hand.

The Bulls needed a combo guard

With Rose potentially missing a good chunk of the season, Chicago's needs changed significantly. Rather than looking for the best upgrade they could get at SG, the Bulls now needed someone to fill in at PG for significant minutes. Guys like Courtney Lee, Brandon Rush, or O.J. Mayo would have made great SG additions but couldn't play the one.

The Bulls, of course, could have opted to keep C.J. Watson as PG and bring in a pure SG [a plan I was in favor of], but the salary structure the team wanted to maintain prohibited this as well as the coaching staff losing faith in Watson due to his poor play down the stretch [and the fact that Watson was never the best at running a team even when playing well].

Furthermore, while Watson has a scorers mentality and is a quality outside shooter, he never seemed to play well off the ball when Rose was in the game making him a somewhat poor fit as a combo guard.

Not many cheap PGs out there

If we cross C.J. Watson off the list, the next tier of PGs in the Bulls price signed three year deals. Jason Kidd went for three years nine million to the Knicks while Andre Miller went for three years seven million guaranteed [9.5 total] with the Nuggets. While I think the 2014 plan is a bunch of crap, the Bulls were still likely looking at keeping cap room open in that year to have the flexibility to reboot the roster.

Miller would obviously been open to the Bulls offer of 2/8 instead of 3/7 while Jason Kidd may have gone either way given his age it was thought he might retire this year, so whether he can really hold up for three more years and earn a contract in that third year is up for debate. Kidd may be best served maximizing his dollars.

Either way, I'll probably take Kirk Hinrich over both Miller and Kidd, and there weren't any other PGs who signed for less or similar amounts that have me excited.

Can Kirk come back?

Here's a look at Kirk's stats over the past six seasons. While it's not a straight curve downward, overall his productivity is on fairly consistent downward trend.

Season PTs/36 Asts/36 PER
2006/7 16.8 6.3 17
2007/8 13 6.8 13.1
2008/9 13.5 5.3 13.9
2009/10 11.7 4.8 11.6
2010/11 12.3 4.8 12.3
2011-12 10.9.2 3.8 9.2

It's worth noting that in 2010/11 season that he played much better with Washington than with Atlanta (PER of 13 with the Wizards and 9.8 with the Hawks). It's also worth noting he dealt with considerable injuries with Atlanta, and his low performance with that team could simply be a result of bad fit.

After all, while a PER of 13 with the Wizards in 2010/11 is nothing to write home about, it comes closer to his trend with Chicago where he was 13.1, 13.9, and 11.6 in his final three seasons. The biggest concern here going forward might be the PER of 11.6 in his final year with the Bulls where Derrick Rose clearly became the man. This might be the mark we can best use to guess what Hinrich will do once Rose returns.

So what would have been?

We'll never really know what would have happened had Rose not torn his ACL, I think the Bulls may have been hoisting an NBA championship trophy or would have stood a good chance of losing to OKC in the finals. If Rose is healthy and Bosh was still hurt, I really like the Bulls odds of having beaten Miami in the ECF. [Yes the "what if our guys were healthy and theirs weren't" game is an exercise in stupidity].

However, in terms of this off-season, I wonder if we'd be looking more seriously at Courtney Lee or O.J. Mayo if our team needs weren't significantly changed by the torn ACL. The Bulls lack of confidence in Watson down the stretch forced their hand to find an upgrade at PG, and while I'm not sure I buy Kirk Hinrich as an upgrade, they certainly weren't getting anyone better.

Once that decision was made, there simply was no money left in their budget to do anything else, and I have to think with a healthy Rose the Bulls would have targeted SG as a position of need much more so than PG.

Filed under: Free Agency

Tags: chicago bulls, kirk hinrich, nba

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  • I don't see how you can say you'd rather have Hinrich over Andre Miller. Miller is still a pretty damn good player, while Hinrich is pretty much trash.

    Wouldn't be surprised at all if Robinson saw a lot of minutes next season. Kirk was a horrible signing.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    Not sure why you're stuck on a guy 4+ years older who has never played much defense and whose offensive numbers are inflated by playing in an uptempo system. Sure Miller can score, but he's an iso scorer who shoots 20% from 3pt for his career. And it's not like Miller has ever lead a team out of the first round of the playoffs. Do you think Thibs and Miller would be a good fit either?

    Hinrich is a better player for everything the bulls want to do this year and next. He's also a much better fit next to and behind Rose.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    I would have preferred Miller also, the age thing is an issue, but to me he definitely has better point guard skills than Hinrich, and he despite his age he doesn't seem to be falling of a cliff as badly as Hinrich is. We will have to see how much if anything Hinrich has left as a defender at either guard position.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    Eh, Andre Miller can't shoot, can't play off the ball, and can't defend. He's probably got better court vision than Hinrich, but that's about it.

  • I may have missed it, but it was reported that Hinrich was signing for 2 years 6 million. Then, like a magical kick in the teeth, it ballooned to 8 million. Why...? If Hinrich would have gone in the late 1st to 2nd round in the draft he would have been a nice bench player and fun to watch. Instead the Bulls pick him number 7 and he plays a role he's not meant to for 10 years. This goes in the 'it's better to be lucky than good category'.

  • In reply to 4zen:

    I don't want Hinrich, but I can't really blame the Bulls for drafting him where they did. They had the seventh pick in a four player draft. The only guy drafted after him that has (arguably) outperformed him is David West.

  • In reply to 4zen:

    Eh, I thought he was a fine player, if you look at the other players drafted in his vicinity after him none of them were better.

  • I knew it the day Kirk was traded. He's Jerry's boy, & they were just waiting for the contract to run out.

  • It's a nice attempt at rationalization to make us feel better, but it doesn't change the fact that they could have traded Korver for Hinrich (and therefore would have had the option to do something else).

  • OJ Mayo can actually play some PG. He envisioned himself as a PG coming into the league to begin with. Pretty good with the pick and roll. I'd rather have Mayo playing PG than Hinrich, who has nosedived the last two seasons and dealt with too many injuries to count.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    Nothing about O.J. Mayo's career thusfar indicates there is even the slightest hope whatsoever that he can play PG.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    When subbed in for Memphis, he was most often the primary ball handled and play maker.

    @clancy - You're right. I didn't realize until I looked it up that all that time he missed was due to just one shoulder surgery. Still doesn't exactly spell reliable to me.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    What exactly are these "too many injuries to count?" He had a groin injury at the very end of one season, and shoulder surgery on an old injury that developed into a problem in the off-season. He was healthy from roughly the all-star break last season. On his career, the only other "serious" (as in long) injury I recall is the thumb surgery. He doesn't have persistent issues with a body part - knee, ankle, back - to cause concern. This injury-prone thing has been way overblown.

  • The more I read the threads that Doug put up, the more I feel that this team is a joke and management as well.

  • Keith Bogans role at the point guard position for thibs? If Kirk can average 10 points a game with over 100 threes at 37%, I think it's possible but not probable. The way the Bulls are structured, they need the point guard position to be able to score 15 to 20 points a game since the team doesn't have many iso scorers. Like some one mentioned, we could actually see a kirk-nate backcourt, especially late in close game? Thibs will most likely rely on Nate Robinson to be his new John Lucas III savior.

  • It's dumb. You can say their were no better PG's out there because Kirk isn't a true PG just look at his assists. He is a combo guard that isn't a great shooter and can't create on his own. It's a poor fit anyway you look at it. I would take Jerryd Bayless, Aaron Brooks and OJ Mayo all day over Captain Klank on the wrong side of 30. He simply doesn't fit our system and even if he did was vastly overpaid based on his current abilities. Yet another horribly mismanaged offseason by dumb and dumber (Gar and Pax).

  • Look, the Bulls if healthy yes might have knocked off Miami, but that's like saying, Bill Walton if healthy could have been the difference maker in Portland winning multiple championships. The fact is they drafted and signed players in Jo, Lu, and Hamilton who have been chronically injured including the last two playoffs for Noah. Not to metnion Taj, C.J., Kyle all were injured for the playoff run. And you can talk it up about medical staffs, but Joakim is a skinny legged, narrow hips and ankles dude period. Likewise Taj. And RIP is old. And Kyle is a skinny not overly strong or athletic guy who has always played limitd minutes.

    Also, team's that win it all generally have a star who goes into killer mode scoring 20+ ppg on .490 to over 50%. Derrick was a far cry from that in his last real playoffs against the Pacers because teams were able to key in on him as he became a legit MVP threat type of player. The Bulls did not get the offensive talent at SG and other positions he needed around him. There was no Scottie(let alone Michael). Only Bogie and Ripster.

    So I think it's a distortion to say the Bulls could have or would have won a championship given they have so many injury prone players and never brought in an in their prime second scorer for Derrick. Thibs defensive system doesn't get it done in the playoffs you need offensive star power. We all know that as does the rest of the league. Miami's first floundering year together aside.

    As for Kirk, personally IMO he had a couple of goood years, but otherwise similar to Ben Gordon I think he's always been home town as in homerism overrated. Real fans don't drink the kool aid. Ben and Kirk both would have made great bench/support players on championship teams. But as main cogs they show their limitationsis by making a lot of lunkhead plays and I never considered Kirk a late game clutch offensive player or scorer. Plus while he's been a good capable shooter at times, he also drifts horizontally often on his shots which is non-evolving, unintelligent, and undisciplined. The really good consistent over time shooters are able to stop and put that momentum up into the air in the energy of their jump shot.

    Home town media always want to feel like they had some good to great players around them when they were reporting in their time. It's a preservation and ego protection. I mean who wants to say, "yeah, well I (spent my prime years/life) as in reported or covered a second city, lame ass sports town post M.J."? Answer: nobody.

    Kirk rightfully desrves the name Klank only in the sense that fan's reflex action of frustration does justice over the sentimentality or rose colored representation of Kirk Hinrich in the 2000's era of Chicago sports and Bull's basketball. And Ben was a solid player but overhyped by many and undercut by others as he simply was inconsistent from night to night for much of his career. That's what took away from him as a winning force he just would have black hole 30% shooting nights that would kill the team. Better (offensive)coaching and more talent around him would have served him well.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    And when I refer to media as always I'm not referring to Doug. I think he enjoys when players do excell no matter how brief a period. He has enthusiasm and appreciation like the rest of us real fans. A passion for the game.values character guys which Kirk and Ben, say what you want, were competitors, and I appreciate that Doug has shown a valuing and a certain loyalty to former Bulls who put it all out there on the court(though not always wisely or in an ultra-talented fashion). So many phony, backstabbers in any realm or near realm of media are hero today goat tomorrow revisionists. Where as Doug like a real person or fan friend appreciates people period no matter decay or downfall.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Just waiting for SlamDunk to come to the rescue of his boy Noah. He is going to be like how dare you state facts like Noah is injury prone! Noah is the greatest player ever! lol

    I agree though that depending on the bulls front court to be fully healthy all year is dumb. I really don't want to see Nazr play more than 5 mins but I suspect we are going to see a lot more than we want of him. Just like we did with Bogans... There will be a lot of WTF is he playing!?!?!? Malcom Thomas who is the same height would have been much better.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Your unwarranted attack on Joakim Noah just proves what a disgrace yourself, Chad, Edward and Juiceboxjerry are to every sane follower of this Bulls franchise.

    You are a clown with a stupid pseudonym who is at war with himself!

  • For my money, I'd rather have Kevin Seraphin(the guy drafted with the Bulls #1 pick that we gave up just to dump Hinrich) than reacquiring Hinrich himself. Of course, I'd rather have Seraphin or even Trevor Booker than the Mataboozer.

    It has also occured to me that the Bulls might have pulled off a draft day trade with Atlanta where the Bulls got Hinrich and Atlanta's first round pick(23) for Korver and the Bulls first round pick(29). This would have preserved the Bulls MLE and allowed us to draft Tony Wroten instead of the midget Teague.

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