Kirk Hinrich - Grit It, Now To Quit It

Kirk Hinrich - Grit It, Now To Quit It

The 2014-15 season was miserable for Bulls fans in many ways. It's difficult just to write that. I'm not over it.

Without going into detail as to why it was so dire - which I am sure we are all across anyway after several weeks of reflection - this season was particularly hard for me in a weird, strange and perhaps not so obvious way.

As an unabashed Kirk Hinrich fan, you could consistently find me defending Hinrich against those that opposed him. A staunch supporter for years, unfortunately, I can’t do it anymore. I give in.

Whilst many arrived at this point years ago, even prior to Kirk’s second tenure as a Bull, I remained loyal to one of my favourite Bulls of all time, and with good reason. As a stand in for Derrick Rose in 2012-13, a role in which he was miscast and played for too long, he brought a balance to the point guard position that was required, whilst being asked to do far more than what he could most likely handle, all with the tenacity and no nonsense approach that I had grown to love and respect Hinrich for. It also helped that his flaws would be adequately off set by Nate Robinson and D.J. Augustin in consecutive seasons. So was the position I took, anyway.

That was then. Though in a minority, I was comfortable in my stance. I would tell myself that Hinrich was the Bulls equivalent of Mel Gibson. Sure, he hadn’t done anything of note for years, and yes, he has gone a little crazy and lost many supporters, but just like Mel will forever have Mad Max and the Lethal Weapon franchise as part of his resumé, Hinrich would always hold a special place in my heart for what he was able to do for this franchise, particularly in the mid 2000s, with the Baby Bulls era still remaining one of the best moments in the recent history of our beloved Bulls.

So, at what point did a Hinrich super fan finally decide it was time to join the dark side?

Was it the horrendous foul on the Monta Ellis jump shot with the Bulls up three against the Mavericks in the dying seconds, which ultimately forced over-time?

Maybe it was Tom Thibodeau consistently finding a way to find minutes for Hinrich, even when younger, more athletic, and developing options were waiting for their opportunity, began resigning to the fact that they were never going to get off the bench?

Perhaps it was the 0 points, 0 assists and 0 rebounds effort in Game 6 against the Cavaliers in the 2015 playoffs, which of course Thibodeau still found a way to justify 20 minutes to the 34-year old?

Or maybe this?

There may not be a singular moment, more so a culmination of frustrating circumstances that kept building, waiting for the opportune moment to break a man.

Here is a random question for you. What do Kirk Hinrich and Kobe Bryant have in common?

No, the answer is not that they were my dream backcourt combination at one point in my teenage life, though that is a true story, one I will share with you some other time. Or not.

So, what do these two heroes of my early days as an NBA fan have in common?

They’re both going to be entering their last season of NBA basketball, collecting contracts that neither is worth, as they gallivant around the cities of the league, one last time.

Whilst Hinrich’s 2015-16 contract is miniscule relative to Bryant’s huge $25 million expiring, unlike Bryant, Hinrich has a player option within his deal which can invoke an additional year, to which he will be owed $2.8m, a figure his play in the 2015 NBA season surely cannot justify.

Assuming Hinrich uses his player option and opts into the final year of his contract, he will be entering his 13th NBA season as a 34-year old guard who is fresh off a season where he registered career lows in many major statistical categories.

With the Golden State Warriors being crowned the NBA champion for 2014-15 season, these flamboyant Warriors were able to win playing a game style which has coined the term ‘position-less basketball’. As an aging guard, who seemingly has lost a step to handle opposing point guards whilst also being far too undersized to routinely match up against shooting guards, position-less basketball has taken on a new meaning for Hinrich and the Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls are long into their off-season, which of course went off with a bang with the ‘dismissal’ of coach Thibodeau, and of course the unexpected hiring of former Bull, Fred Hoiberg.

If that wasn’t enough, recent reports suggest that the Jimmy Butler contract situation may not be as easy and over the line as once thought. Do we really need any more drama? Are we sure Carmelo Anthony isn’t a free agent again? I am sure he would love to get involved in the mayhem.

Whilst the Hinrich situation won’t reach the epic proportions that the coaching saga did, and now perhaps the Butler situation threatens to do, it’s impact will still have the Bulls potentially carrying another bad contract into the 2015-16 season.

Will Hinrich’s contract ‘force’ management into not filling holes on the wing due to Kirk holding a roster spot, whilst of course being a Paxson favourite?

With Hinrich likely opting in and Butler chasing huge dollars that will push the Bulls all the way to the tax line, will this lead to roster cuts and changes elsewhere?

Can the existence of Hinrich on the roster force the Bulls to drop off potential depth players such as E’Twaun Moore to save on funds that will be headed Jimmy Butler’s way?

Will a role be defined for Hinrich within the rotation simply because he will be hanging around the Advocate Center for one more season, with no depth added to the squad outside of minimum contracts?

To me, these are all pertinent questions. When coupled with his dwindling play, I have no option now but to say, “Thanks for the memories, Kirk. Have you ever thought about a management role? How about accepting a position in a front office? Want to grab a bite and have a Lethal Weapon marathon? Please?”.

Mark Karantzoulis is a new addition to Bulls Confidential. Hailing from Australia, Mark is an NBA addict who uses RealGM as his primary outlet to unleash the furious feelings of not having anyone to talk to about basketball. Thus, I figured he might as well join the team to satisfy his longing needs of talking Bulls hoops non-stop, and to frankly safe his life from boredom. Or at least get him away from watching Jean Claude Van Damme movies all day long. You can follow Mark and his ramblings on Twitter @MarkK_247, but prepare for weirdness. 

- Morten

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  • Welcome, Mark!

    Off topic, but if Taj had such a bum ankle all season long why not have him undergo the knife earlier and let Mirotic play?

  • In reply to Sluggers:


  • Welcome aboard Mark! I admire your honesty and loyalty. How does that old hymn go? Something to the effect that "I was blind but now I see."

    Funny that you are writing about Hinrich. Just last night I was working in my garden when I realized that the same noxious species of weed that has been crowding my tomato plants every year was just like Hinrich. It's useless, annoying, you can't really kill it, and it comes back every year.

    I generally thought Thibs was a pretty good coach. However, one thing he used to say made me question whether I should cut back on my consumption of sugar and caffeine. He would say something to the effect that the team played better with Hinrich on the court. I came to the conclusion that either 1) Thibs had an undisclosed drinking problem, or 2) I sniffed too much glue as a teenager.

    Another conundrum I never solved was why would a team bring back a player six years after they had to bribe another team to take him off their hands with a first round pick. Yes, he was done even then. That brings us back to weeds and Hinrich-they must be part of God's plan and we will have to accept it.

    So, in a couple of years when they raise his jersey up to the rafters at the UC next to Michael, Scotty, and Sloan just remember that things we can't explain are just part of the mystery of life.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    That was great. Thank you for this comment.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    You know, I really enjoyed reading your comment just now and I agree.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    So we had the worm now we have the weed - love it!!!

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    I enjoyed reading this as much as i enjoyed typing out my Hinrich thoughts. I will always love Kirk. Those who have seen me share my thoughts on this topic in various other places know that. Mort especially. But, have to call a spade a spade.

    Appreciate the welcomes from everybody. Looking forward to being part of Chicago Bulls Confidential and hearing what people think about my silly (but hopefully decent) articles.

  • Jimmys contract situation is not a problem at all. People just need a story to talk about.. it's all on the bulls to keep him or not if they want him they'll match anything he's offered since they already said they're ready to offer jimmy the max it makes no difference what other teams choose to do. If we want jimmy we can sign him. As for kirk.. yea get him outta here n free up some cap room. Nazr can go as well..get a better backup big man to put out there.

  • It actually would be interesting if Hinrich stays on the team just to see how Hoiberg will use him.

  • Kirk and Kobe are like MJ in a way. MJ went out twice on top in Chicago, but couldn't let it go, and instead of being a bad investor in Washington, decided he had to play.

    E’Twaun Moore's salary isn't going to make any difference.

    Kirk was mostly here to play because D Rose couldn't, which really isn't much of a reason. As hagarbell indicated, the Bulls dumped his salary once, so they should try to find a way to do it again.

  • Welcome to Chicago Bulls Confidential! I look forward to more articles with you saying 'whilst'!

    But seriously good article. We all knew that contract was going to cause problems, but my question is, did mgmt give it out because they had the soft spot for hinrich, or did they do it to throw Thibs a bone, or does Hinrich have some incriminating photos on all of them?

  • Morten I think I know where you got the idea of Hinrich and Kobe playing together. It was during that off season when Kobe was demanding a trade to Chicago to play with Deng in order to force his GM's in LA to build a better team. I too used to imagine the possibilities of adding Kobe to a young core of Hinrich and Deng (back when Hinrich could still make wide open shots) but that ship sailed a long long time ago, and Hinrich has far over stayed his welcome.

    Having said all that I still don't he was all that bad this year because he did have some moments. The problem I saw was Thibs miss-used him and over-used him. Having some time to reflect on this season I'll go on record and be the first to say that Thibs was an absolutely horrible coach. Some of his decision making was just idiotic plain and simple. He should never be a head coach of any team and is best suited as a career assistant. Why on earth did he think it was a good idea to play Hinrich 20+ minutes a night when he was clearly struggling and you have better options is beyond me. I'll never understand it and perhaps what hgarbell said was true; Maybe God was at work because it completely didn't coexist with the laws of man. Or apparently in Thibs world he has his own law.

  • In reply to ajaychitown:

    My mistake i meant to put Mark and not Morten.

  • You took the words out of my mouth. Hinrich was my favorite college player and I was over joyed when he was drafted by my favorite team. I, too, defended him to no end for years. Always pointing to how he had to guard everyone from Billups and Hamilton from Detroit, to Kobe and even LeBron. Truly one of my favorite players. That said, I can't defend him anymore or justify his role on the team. Unless he switches roles with Moore, there is no place for him. The coaching staff needs another guy, right, maybe he can do that?

  • Since GarPaxDorf each seem to have a personal love affair with Hangdog they should convince him to pass on his option to play and offer him the same money to be a coach or join the management team. Where are all those teams offering him more money than the Bulls did(yea, right) when you need them?

    However, I'm sure that the POSDog still wants to play, still thinks that he can play and unfortunately GarPaxDorf are all delusional enough to agree with him. Having Kraptain Klankaroo around will certainly cost us something of value, either retaining a guy like Dunleavy(as a bench role player) or worse yet, not using our MLE in whichever form it takes, which likely depends on whether or not Butler's contract puts us over the tax threshold.

    As someone who was done with him even before we had to bribe the Wiz with a first round draft pick(used to select Kevin Seraphin, one pick ahead of Eric Bledsoe and 2 ahead of Avery Bradley) and certainly never wanted him back for his second, nevermind 3rd tour with the Bulls I can only hope that Hoiberg hates his guts and DNPCD's him for the entire season. Of course there is probably a secret clause in Hoiberg's contract that requires him to play Hangdog at least 20mpg including minutes at SG and SF where he is devastatingly effective, well, at least to Bull's fans mental health.

    I can see how/why some people liked him in his early years, even if that was the draft that we ended up with Hangdog instead of D Wade. However, from the moment he signed his vastly overpaid second contract he began his neverending slide into eye gouging unwatchableness. Culminating with last season's debacle of shear boneheadedness as exemplified by the video clip that you highlighted, a Shaqtin a fool moment if ever there was one.

    Truth be told we have a lot bigger problems than one more year of Hangdog, starting with Taj's Gibson's belated ankle surgery which basically puts the kaibosh on any trade options prior to the season starting. I wonder if this has any affect on the Bulls draft, it really shouldn't at 22, just take the PBA.

  • Speaking of Hangdog, CSN Chicago has an interesting profile of ND's Pat Connaughton. He sounds like a bigger, better shooting version of Hangdog, who can actually play SG. Might be an interesting second round pick if we hadn't traded every one this decade to trade up for McDNP. Any of you college guys have any thoughts on Connaughton, apparently he has options to play professional baseball also.

  • Hinrich opting in to his contract shouldn't make even one little tiny bit of difference as to the makeup of the rest of the roster.

    If Hoiberg doesn't want him around as 3rd or 4th string PG/SG, it's easy enough to just buy him out. Either way, the Bulls will have the Full MLE and the BAE to spend.

    I know it's popular among the kids to act like the Bulls FO won't pay the Luxury Tax, but it's a really stupid thought, since they've already proven they'll pay it. Even after Butler gets the max, and even if Taj isn't traded, and even if they spend the Full MLE and the BAE, they won't be but a few million into the LT.

    It's at $81.6 million, and let's assume the Bulls keep everyone and cut Hinrich:


    That's $61,770,832 for those 9 players plus Hinrich and Rip's deals.

    With the Salary Cap set at $67.1 million, Butler's max salary will be $15,701,400. The #22 pick will make $1,391,160 if he signs for 120% of the Rookie Scale.

    That brings the total to $78,863,392 for 11 players (plus Kirk and Rip).

    The Full MLE is going to be $5,464,000 and the BAE will be $2,139,000. That would bring the total payroll for 13 players to $86,466,392.

    The problem is, of course, if a team uses the Full MLE, they are hard-capped at the Luxury Tax Apron (LT + $4 mil), which is $85.6 million.

    Obviously, $86,466,392 is more than $85.6 million by $866,392.

    HOWEVER, if the Bulls use the Stretch Provision on Kirk, spreading his payments out over 3 years, they will only pay him $951,647 this season, a savings of $1,903,293.

    So instead of $86,466,392, the payroll would be $84,563,099 this season, which is $1,036,901 under the apron.

    That leaves enough room to sign a veteran to the minimum, which costs $947,276, leaving another $89,625 under the Hard Cap to fill the 15th roster spot with 10-day contracts.

    So to summarize, the Bulls can cut Kirk, pay him over 3 years with the stretch provision, and filed this roster:

    #22 pick
    Full MLE
    Veteran's Minimum

    Now of course things change if they decide to keep Kirk, but things are going to change anyway as I don't see any way Taj is on the opening-day roster. They could keep Kirk to fill the Vet Min spot by trading Taj for someone who makes about $1 million less.

    Hell, if they want, they can keep Kirk, trade Taj for a 1st-round pick (and no other salary), and still use the Full MLE and BAE and stay out of the Luxury Tax altogether.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Taj can't be traded until he is fully cleared from surgery which is estimated around 4 months. The earliest they can trade Taj is at the trade deadline but there's not telling how much this recent ankle surgery impacts his value. That's why I was hoping the Bulls would have looked to move him at the last trade deadline but they did nothing at all. This is what they always do; hold on to players too long until they're either worth nothing, or lose them to free agency getting nothing in return. The same goes for Hinrich who like it or not we're stuck with because no sane team is gonna take his contract unless he's bundled with a pick.

  • I'll start with the easy one, since I just explained in great detail how we can waive Hinrich and still spend as much money (the Full MLE and the BAE) as if he opts out of his contract.

    So no, we are 100% NOT stuck with Hinrich, unless Hoiberg wants him back. Again, as I just explained in great detail, if they keep Hinrich on the roster they would be able to use all of the Full MLE minus $866,392. So we could still use the BAE and $4,597,608 of the Full MLE.

    We could split that among two players, giving each of them $2,298,804 (which is more than the BAE). Or we could give one player the veteran's minimum and the other player $3,650,332, which is more than the Taxpayers MLE of $3.376 million.

    So saying we are stuck with Hinrich is just 100% not true in any sense of the word. If I need to explain anything again, feel free to ask any questions, but I thought I made it quite clear how we are not in any way stuck with Hinrich, even if he opts in.

    Even if we don't trade Taj.

    And nothing personal, but I again have to laugh at the concept that so many Bulls fans have that when a players leaves via free agency, the team gets nothing in return.

    The team gets a roster spot, and sometimes cap space.

    You do realize that last summer we got a 2nd-Team All-NBA player (Gasol) and gave up nothing in return? That's the way free agency works, if you never let a player leave via free agency, you'll never have any roster spots to sign a free agency.

    That's how every team in every professional sport does business, you lose players to free agency and you sign free agents to take their place.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Great analysis as usual, Don. I feel better!

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Well said.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Doesn't it only matter what the dictators (GarPaxDorf) want? I thought they just went out and hired their yes man...

    If Pax wants his boy Kirk I am sure Kirk will be on the roster regardless of his usefulness or Freds feelings about him.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Haha. Some cheese with your whine?

  • In reply to Roman F:

    LOL, no kidding.

    They hired one of the most sought-after coaches out there who turned down several jobs over the past couple of years, including one with the new World Champs.

    I'm still waiting for the first pro team in any sport to announce their new coach by saying "well, he doesn't agree with any of the philosophy of the front office, but what the hell"

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    I don't know how any coach could watch film of last season and conclude that the team needs Hinrich. If that same coach uses analytics, the case for keeping Hinrich becomes even weaker. I don't know what Thibs saw in him but I guarantee the FO did not tell Thibs he had to play Kirk 20+ minutes per game, their interests and egos would have been better served seeing more minutes go to Snell.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    No doubt, but there is something to be said for veteran leadership and locker room presence. As long as Kirk is relegated to being the 6th guard in the rotation, only playing emergency minutes in blowouts or in case of several injuries, it probably wouldn't hurt to have him on the roster.

    Folks whine like Hinrich makes $10 million a year, he's on a cheap contract. The only players who make less are those on their rookie deals and veteran minimum guys, Kirk is pretty inconsequential to the overall salary structure of the roster.

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