Although the signing is not official as of today, the Bulls will eventually bring back Kirk Hinrich. The move has excited most Bulls fans, reminding them of the good old days when Hinrich was a defensive stopper and catalyst of the "Baby Bulls". People of Chicago must realize this isn't the same Hinrich we all know and love. That Hinrich is gone for good.
Before I bash this move, here's a look at the effect of this reported two-year, $6 million deal:
-C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewers' options were not picked up
-John Lucas III is doubtful to be re-signed, though it is possible
-Kyle Korver was traded to the Atlanta Hawks most likely for a second round pick and a trade exception worth $5 million
-Hinrich will be the starter this season in Derrick Rose's absence and possibly be the starting shooting guard next season (Richard Hamilton's contract after this season is non-guaranteed)
-Here's the big one; Chicago will almost certainly pay the luxury tax for the first time in franchise history.
If you told me the Bulls were going to pay the luxury tax I would have expected a deal that finally gave Chicago a second star to Rose; not Hinrich. Hinrich agreed to the tax payers mid-level exception, indicating the Bulls will finally pay the luxury tax. Hinrich sure took a hometown discount (turned down a whopping 1 year, $4 million contract from the Milwaukee Bucks).
Combining this move with Asik's contract (let's assume Bulls match), the Bulls will be paying the luxury tax because of two players that combined to have a 22.72 player efficiency rating last season. To put that number in perspective, 13 players had a better PER last season than Hinrich and Asik combined. Heck, Rose had a PER of 23.10 during his injured season. Carlos Boozer, who is the scapegoat amongst Bulls fans, had a 19.79 PER this season, only 2.93 worse than Hinrich and Asik's combined.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of the Bulls finally paying the luxury tax, but with Rose out for most of next season, will the tax penalties be worth it? Only time will tell. Maybe the Bulls aren't done dealing. Perhaps they have a sign and trade in mind for the likes of Courtney Lee or O.J. Mayo. Perhaps the Bulls, who are reportedly shopping Hamilton, can free up some money so sign Mayo or Lee outright (this would also likely require the Bulls letting Asik walk). Either way, the Hinrich move on its own is quite baffling.
Hinrich's done, there's no other way to explain his numbers.
Kirk Hinrich 2011-12 Statistics (per 40 min.)
|Points||Assists||Points/play||3FM||3FG%||Iso FG%||Spot-up FG%||PER|
Let's start where Hinrich is at his worst these days. Basically any offensive stat you look at supports that Hinrich is a very poor offensive player. Considering the Bulls need offense in Rose's absence, acquiring a player who is inept offensively is puzzling. Let's compare Hinrich with another offense-deficient player.
Player X: 9.8 points, 2.8 assists, 38 3FG% and a 9.02 PER (all stats per 40 min.)
Player X's numbers are really similar to Hinrich's aren't they? Both players have atrocious PERs and are decent but not spectacular shooters. Both players can't score for the life of them, averaging around 10 points per 40 minutes each. Want to know who Player X is? No other than the Bulls 2010-11 starting shooting guard Keith Bogans. Yep, Hinrich's that bad offensively.
Bulls fans were outraged when Bogans started 82 games for Chicago. He couldn't do anything but spot-up and shoot, but he wasn't even very good at that. Bogans was a solid defender, but in no way did it make up for his non-existent offense. Hinrich is similar to Bogans offensively in that he spots-up 37.4 percent of the time according to Synergy. Like Bogans, he isn't very good at it either, only shooting 37.3 percent on spot-ups. What the Bulls will need out of Hinrich without Rose being in the lineup is the ability to score in iso situations. In that department, Hinrich shot only 30.4 percent. His points per play overall was 233rd in the entire NBA.
Hinrich isn't much of a playmaker anymore either. He averaged only 4.3 assists per 40 min. and isn't nearly the passer he used to be. Offensively Hinrich will not help out the Bulls unless he turns back the clock five years or so.
Kirk Hinrich 2011-12 defensive statistics (FG% and PER are of opponents)
|PPP||DEF/game||FG%||Spot-up FG%||PER PG||PER SG||2 year adj. plus-minus|
I have to give Hinrich some credit, he's an above average defender, even at this age. He played most of his minutes at shooting guard this season and held opposing shooting guards to a middling 11 PER (according to 82games.com). He also held opposing point guards to an 11.9 PER. His points per play (0.87) were nothing to brag about, but his opponent's field percentage was solid at 40.6 percent. His defensive plays per game (a combination of steals, blocks and charges) was very low at 1.28. During spot-up situations players didn't have a chance against Hinrich, shooting a horrid 32.3 percent.
As I alluded to earlier, his solid defense doesn't outweigh his abysmal offense. His two year adjusted plus minus of negative 7.80 was the eighth worst in the entire league according to basketballvalue.com. Surprisingly, the Hawks were 4.18 points better with Hinrich off the floor. Even if Hinrich is an absolute beast defensively, the Bulls don't need defense. Of the players returning for the Bulls next season, Boozer is the only player I would categorize as a poor defender. Especially when playing under Coach Thibs, defense isn't the problem. Unfortunately, Hinrich's only valuable asset is his defense.
One thing that can't be overlooked is intangibles. Hinrich is a veteran leader and is a great role model for rookie point guard Marquis Teague. Will his intangibles and solid defense be worth $3 million a year? I doubt it.
It's easy for casual Bulls fans to like this move. The signing represents a perfect story: Rose tears his ACL and has to sit out for most of the season and then here comes Chicago's savior; Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich, who won merely one playoff series in his seven-year Bulls career, is back home to fill in for Rose and lead the Bulls to an NBA title.
Spoiler Alert: This story won't have a happy ending.