It was the news every Chicago Bulls fan had been waiting for since season’s end. The countless hours, minutes, milliseconds we all were left on edge wondering if he’d be back next season. Personally, it left me with sleepless nights staring off into the abyss, imagining just one more season of him in a Bulls uniform. And then just like that, it happened, the news finally came we all wanted to know…
On Monday morning, just two days before free agency was to begin, Kirk Hinrich opted into the second year of his player option. I know, it’s a big sigh of relief for everyone involved, that Hinrich decided to take the $2.8 million dollar option for next season. We can all finally move on with the offseason knowing that that beloved grit will be with us once more.
Ok, sorry for the satire everyone.
Kirk Hinrich will be back with the Bulls for at least one more season (hopefully his last). And in all seriousness, no one can really blame Hinrich for picking up his $2.8 million dollar option — who wouldn’t do so in his position?
From a financial standpoint, Hinrich opting in all but insures that the Bulls will pay the luxury tax for only the second time in franchise history. Furthermore, it takes away money that could otherwise be spent on a useful, competent player; say a backup point guard or a valuable wing. But we can’t change that now, and we get the pleasure of looking forward to one more year of this:
From a performance standpoint, his play on the court and the statistics that followed unanimously showed that Captain Kirk was not valuable but alas, Thibs. Everyone knew he was a negative for the Bulls, but Thibs’ loyalty to grit blinded him. But that was then and this is now, seeing as former grit confidante Tom Thibodeau is no longer in charge.
Fred Hoiberg is the new head man, and surely he’ll be able to discover what many have clamored for some time now. At least we can hope. During his introductory presser, Hoiberg mentioned going back and watching most of the Bulls’ games from this past season. This as a means of seeing where the Bulls can improve upon next season, but also where lost or new opportunities can be found or created.
It would be safe to assume that Hoiberg viewing even half a dozen games would show the negative impact Kirk had while on the court. But we all know what to assume means. I digress. The biggest thing here is that Hoiberg has no “loyalty” to Hinrich nor the infamous grit that follows. He is going to do his job to fully utilize the potential of this team, something Thibs’ failed to accomplish, especially this past season. And that should not entail putting Hinrich on the floor.
Moreover, it’s hard see Hinrich — especially given this stage of his career — having much if any success in Hoiberg’s system. From a defensive standpoint, Hoiberg tends to have his teams switch screens. Because of his diminishing lateral quickness and an inability to navigate screens as well as his lack of awareness help-side, I can’t imagine Hinrich being successful in this realm. On the opposite end of things, Hoiberg’s offense is known for being an uptempo, fast-paced system aimed at hoisting a plethora of three’s. 10 years ago, it’s fair to say Kirk would’ve been a good fit for this, but not now. Given the current state of Hinrich’s game, him being remotely successful in such a system is just not plausible.
Kirk Hinrich played 24.4 minutes per game last season, shot 37.7% from the field and 34.5% from deep. And for what it’s worth, although it doesn’t mean a whole lot, his PER was 6.8. The average in the NBA is 15. The. Average. Is. 15.
Any who, it was expected that Hinrich would opt into his contract, it’s just unfortunate based on numerous reasons. But all is not lost as Fred Hoiberg is the new man in charge. This is his team now, and he has championship aspirations to uphold for this team and city. And if he wants to uphold those aspirations, less Kirk Hinrich is more.
Twitter – @Tyler_Pleiss