The Bulls brought back an old friend today.
Kirk Hinrich verbally agreed to what is believed to be a two-year, $6-million dollar deal.
For the first seven years of his career, Kirk Hinrich was a fan favorite in Chicago. As the team’s starting point guard for five of those years, and a combo guard for the last year and a half, he became the franchise’s all-time leader in three pointers and won 13 playoff games (nine of them as the starting point guard).
However, what will his role be this time around?
And what does this move mean for the Bulls?
With Derrick Rose out for at least most of next season, it appears that this move means Kirk Hinrich will be the team’s starting point guard on opening night. Likely, this signals the end of CJ Watson in a Bulls uniform, as he has a team option of $3.2 million. With Kirk Hinrich likely to make around three million, keeping two point guards for that kind of money isn’t very likely.
However, this might signal the Bulls are going to keep Kyle Korver and Omer Asik.
Given the Bulls’ current situation with the salary cap, they were only allowed to spend three million dollars in free agency (called the taxpayers’ mid-level exception), which is what they signed Hinrich with. The Bulls were also rumored to be going after three-point specialists like Michael Redd in free agency, and if they were not going to match Asik’s offer, one would assume that they would have used the exception to sign a backup center.
So, unless they can get a three-point specialist to agree to sign for the minimum within the next two days, it’s likely that Kyle Korver will return.
For Asik, I still think there’s a chance he goes. Since the Bulls have until the 14th to match the offer sheet, that gives them a bit more time to explore other options. Plus, Tom Thibodeau has gone on the record saying Taj Gibson’s role will increase next season, and that he likes using Gibson at center. If that’s true, than the need for a true backup center isn’t all that important, and signing one for the veteran minimum to do that job may not be out of the question.
Anyhow, if they made the decision to match Omer Asik’s offer sheet, it was likely made before Kirk Hinrich agreed to the deal anyways.
Considering all of that, one might look at this move and question it. However, I do like this move for the Bulls.
The Bulls aren’t just making a move to get a guy to backup Derrick Rose; they’re making a move for a guy you are going to need to count on for, at the very least, four months of this season in a starting role. After watching CJ Watson play as a starting point guard last season, would you be comfortable seeing him start for that amount of time?
Plus, with Rip Hamilton’s deal expiring after this season, and Marquis Teague in the fold, it gives the Bulls an option for a backup shooting guard next year (assuming they look to upgrade that position in the starting lineup).
Sure, it’s not an upgrade that puts the Bulls even with the Miami Heat, but a Tom Thibodeau-coached team with a starting five of Noah, Boozer, Deng (if the word is true that it’s looking like he may not need surgery), Rip, and Kirk can certainly be a fourth or fifth seed in the East.
Outside of packaging guys to trade for a superstar, this was about as good a move as the Bulls could make given their cap situation.