Benching Kirk Hinrich for Nate Robinson: Right move? Maybe not

Tom Thibodeau mentioned switching up the starting lineup after losing to Houston, but backed off those thoughts and is keeping the lineup intact. While Hinrich has frustrated Bulls fans with poor play, it's the right decision.

Sure Kirk Hinrich has been a train wreck, and I don't think that's been a big surprise to many Bulls fans whom thought he was overrated and not worth the signing anyway. That said, I think it's fair to say that thus far he's disappointed even his detractors with his poor play. Still, benching him isn't likely to help much.

The core problem? Kirk's already benched during fourth quarters anyway. When the game's decided, Kirk has been on the bench virtually all season. The Bulls starters aren't regularly getting run out of the gym. Nor is Chicago losing games in the first eight minutes by building up massive deficits they can't overcome.

In the end, Nate Robinson has been considerably better than Hinrich. He probably deserves to start based on performance. However, the fit with the roster says something different.

The problem? Kirk playing with the bench is a recipe for disaster. Robinson at least gives the bench some type of scoring punch while Kirk's 30% shooting is surrounded by better scorers in the starting lineup. In general, Kirk has moved the ball more fairly effectively and found guys shots.

Kirk playing with a group of guys who are looking to take shots fits what little talent he still has to bring to the table and actually minimizes the talents that Nate Robinson brings to the table. Yes, Robinson has been better. Yes, Robinson should close games. However, Kirk's relatively far more valuable with the starters and Robinson is far more valuable with the less scoring oriented bench players.

Both players will lose a little bit of relative value by swapping their roles. What the Bulls should do is limit Kirk's minutes as much as possible while increasing Nate's role. However, both players are better suited to the positions they're presently in than switching things around.


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  • The rest of the bench isn't doing much, and Nate Robinson isn't Derrick Rose. So the question comes down to whether the Bulls can stay above 500, and the only determinant there is if Noah, Boozer and Hamilton can get a big enough lead.

  • I was surprised to read all the people scapegoating Nate on the ESPN Bulls page. They wanted Kirk back in. Kirk! Nate isn't an eight-figure player, probably not even an MLE-level player, but he's brought a lot more to the table than Kirk has this season. Honestly I can think of two games already this season they would have lost if Nate hadn't gotten hot. That's a big deal when your starting point guard is averaging under 5 points a game on 30% shooting.

    In all honesty I probably wouldn't make a lineup change. Because what can you do? Taj is going to play better against bench players. There's no shooting guard to replace Rip, really, unless you started Nate and Hinrich in the backcourt. There's little you can do with this roster. They need to trade and draft well very soon if they want to make a Finals appearance during Derrick's prime.

  • While I am definitely in the camp that did not want to bring Hangdog back, and you are correct that he has been even worse than most of us predicted, ultimately, he was not signed to be the starter, so that might be a reason to bring him off the bench.

    However, my sense is that whatever advantages that Nate brings to the table are best used as a reserve. As a starter his disadvantages overwhelm any advantages.

    At this point it wouldn't kill anyone to try a change. If it fails miserably you just go back to Hangdog as the starter, it is really not that big of a deal.

    To me the guy that should be benched, and might perform better as a reserve is, of course, the escort, the spectator, Bozo the boozer himself. Second choice would be Hamilton.

    Much like I thought that Korver and Bozo could not be on the floor at the same time last year, Bozo and Rip can't this year. In fact I would argue that Rip is a significantly worse defender than Korver, because Korver at least tried and was a good defensive rebounder for a guard.

    Hamilton is the baby boozer, he simply cannot, will not, and does not even make an effort to defend anyone, either individually or in the team concept. Rip would probably check out for good if he got benched, but how much would that matter, on defense he already has. The question would be who do you replace him with, Butler or Belly.

    Frankly, in a Rose-less season, I am all for changing things up for as long as it takes to find something that works. Maybe nothing will, we just don't have the underlying talent, particularly when 3 of our starters are unathletic, over the hill vets just collecting paychecks for as long the league will allow them to do so.

  • unfortunately this analysis is true, its basically the boozer-gibson tandem but this time at the point guard position. Having them split the minutes at pg is probably the best course of action with Hinrich the Keith Boganesque starter and Nate the finisher.

    The sad part is the Milwaukee Bucks had scoring problems a few years back, what did they do? They went out and got Monta Ellis, a good shooter in dunleavy and some nice young athletic bigs that can run the floor. Contrast that to the Bulls who are stuck in a time warp, searching for the next Kurt Thomas in big men and looking for past favorite players instead of the best available talent for the money available. Milwaukee is marching forward and the Bulls are marching backwards. I'm hoping its competitive tonight but I wouldn't be surprised if we are blown out by the more athletic-scoring team which is the Bucks.

  • F.Y.I., Gasol and Howard combined for 13 and 8 rebounds in last nights Laker loss to Memphis, after combing for only 15 points and 18 rebounds in an ugly loss to Sacto 2 nights earlier. Is it possible that Gasol and Howard together are worse than Bozo.

    The Lakers let up 72 points in the first half against after letting up 71 in the second half against Sacto.

    Something is definitely wrong in LaLa land. I know that Nash is still out but it is already looking like Gasol and Howard are not a good fit with each other, and that Gasol may not be a good fit with D'Antoni's system.

    While I am not all that sure that Noah and Gasol would be effective together either, and less than thrilled with Gasol making $19 million this season and next(guaranteeing the Bulls to be a tax payer this year and next), maybe the Bulls should look into a trade for Gasol.

    My guess is that the Lakers are/were already looking to move Gasol, but just can't find anyone willing to take on the $38 million left on his deal.

    Obviously, the only plausible deal from a Bulls stand point would be Rip and Bozo for Gasol. My guess is that the Lakers won't even consider the deal due to the 3rd and final year on Bozo's contract.

    Bozo might actually be a better player for the Lakers in a wide open offense, no defense style of play, and Rip saves the Lakers $10 million bucks next season.

    While the Lakers are significantly over the tax line for this year and next, they have only one player currently under contract for the 2014-15 season, Steve Nash at just under $10 million.

    So they have an even better 2014 plan than do the Bulls. In fact that pretty much blows the Bulls chances at having a successful 2014 plan, since anybody the Bulls might want to sign will go to the Lakers instead. Isn't that Lebron's opt out summer.

    Obviously, they will try to sign Howard to a max deal before that time, so that puts them at roughly $30 million for 2 players. Kobe will be a free agent and 36 years old, so that will be an interesting situation, they certainly are not going to extend him at $30 million plus.

    Kobe slinked off the court and directly into the locker room with less that 10 seconds on the clock at the end of last nights game. We all know that when Kobe isn't happy, heads will role in LA

    I know that it is just wishful thinking(wanting to get rid of my most despised player and an additional useless slug in Rip), but Gasol is the odd man out in LA unless things improve dramatically when Nash returns.

    Basketball considerations aside, In all likelihood this deal doesn't work for either team financially, but the Bulls prospects look so bleak right now that I am looking for anything to provide a spark of excitement, something worth talking about, other than amnestitizing Bozo.

  • This team's flawed roster configuration and the resulting continued necessity to trot out these bizarre, frankensteinish lineups in a desperate attempt to balance these players' various strengths and weaknesses is yet another instance in the ongoing face-slap program that Bulls fans have been subjected to, in large part due to the continued absentee landlord syndrome of everyone's favorite GFL failtroop.

    Where is the intervention? Where are your ships? Weren't we supposed to be boarding them by now?

    Where are you while all this is going on?

    No doubt floating around somewhere like a pack of drugged, braindead baby seals, while Bulls fans are forced to endure watching Derrick Rose tear his ACL, and then proceed to watch the Bulls be embarrassingly eliminated by the Philadelphia Crapetty Crappers featuring ''future superstar'' Evan Turner and his incredibly short arm bandits.

    And where were you when Omer Asik's long-term status as a Chicago Bull was being threatened by pudgy frumpling Daryl ''Backload Bob'' Morey and his franchise's ugly, sin-stained cap cavity?

    ''Well, we want to win too.'' Yes, Daryl, we know. And do you know what else? We don't give a flying shit.

    Perhaps someday soon it will be decided that Bulls fans have endured enough. But, for now, onward we go in this joy-filled, patchwork nonsense season.

  • Deng+Taj+Nate...for...Bledsoe+Butler+Odom

  • Well, the bench was a net 0 tonight, Thibs gave them the reduced minutes with few exceptions. I'm going to get have to get used to the short rotation for now.....was used to the bench getting extended minutes from the past few seasons. This team is not the same team, even with a healthy Derrick Rose at this point.....I'm going to have to eat my sentiments on Omer pretty soon, the second unit isnt the same without him. This team just isn't very talented or deep anymore. The team cohesion is gone as well, displaced by a ball-pounding Nate Robinson.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    and as scripted in the Archetype of Fate; who snatched the last moment of hope in Houston from a slashing Noah? The juggernaut of the Furies...Omer.

  • I can't help but feel that the Bucks would have won if the Bulls hadn't been 15/15 from the FT line after the first half, but a win is a win, and the Bulls needed one bad.

  • Robinson is a ball hogger, a pour decison maker, everything but a point guard. It shouldn't even be a question. It'd be simply foolish to start Nate over Hinrich.

    Nate is a selfish player, playing for his own and for the show not for the win or the team. He force too many shoots. We've lost some games because of him.

    Yesterday we won because he was on the bench the last 2 min.

    Imo, he should be taken off the rotation or move to the SG positons. If not he will a poison for this team.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    you're tottaly wrong Doug, Nate hasn't played better than Hinrich so far. You've to look beyond stats. Kirk Hinrich a better PG, a real one. He knows how to run the floor and push tumpo unlike Nate who plays like a SG and forces shots.

    Stop looking at stats and analyze the game deeply. Nate is a really bad PG. I'm even missing CJ Watson.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Other teams play 5 on 4 when Kirk is out there unless they're pressuring him to make a mistake. It's the Bogans effect, except the Bulls had a dynamic scorer and creator on the floor then in Derrick Rose to make it less embarrassing/noticeable.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    While I don't believe starting Nate over Kirk would be the right move to make, you cannot deny that Nate has been the much better player over Kirk up to this point in the season. If anyone should be taken out of/less minutes in the rotation it should be Kirk. He is play awful right now, there is no way around that. Shooting 30% from the field and 25% from three is not acceptable for a starting point guard in the NBA.

    This bulls team is currently constructed to having a scoring point guard lead them. While Kirk does put up solid assist numbers, the flow of the Bull's offense seems to be much better when they have a driving point guard in the game.

    At this point in Kirk's career, his defense is not even that much better, if any, than Nate this season. IMO its time to give a few more minutes to Teague. We aren't going to contend for a championship this year, so why not see what kind of potential the kid has.

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