The Enigmatic Kirk Hinrich


Now that Carlos Boozer is officially out of town, we need another player for fans to fight about!

Well Chicago now has one. The enigmatic Kirk Hinrich!

Wow! Bulls fans seem very divided on the Chicago’s decision to bring back veteran combo guard Kirk Hinrich. Whether it be Twitter, message boards or even right here on Pippen Ain’t Easy, the Chicago Bulls community is split when it comes to the enigmatic Kirk Hinrich.

Here on Pippen Ain’t Easy we’ve heard reactions from Ronald Agers, opposed to the Kirk Hinrich signing, and Ashley Wijangco, reigning president of the Kirk Hinrich fan club, so you know she was happy.

With so much of the fan base divided I wanted to take the time to weigh in on the decision to re-sign Hinrich, clear up some misconceptions, and offer my take on the signing.

The Front Office’s POV

There’s a significant benefit to limiting roster turnover year after year, especially in a system such has Tom Thibodeau’s which has been known to require an adjustment period for rookies and veterans alike. Maintaining continuity on your roster lessens the learning curve of the team as a whole, allowing you to get in the swing of the system from day one.

Point Guard is one of the most demanding positions to play in the NBA. Playing in a demanding system for a coach with a short leash on players doesn’t make it any easier. Hinrich’s familiarity and comfort in running Thibodeau’s system can only been seen as a benefit.

Likewise, Hinrich’s ability to guard multiple positions makes him a valuable player who can spell Rose as well as play alongside him while guarding the tougher matchup. This allows Rose the ability to rest on and off the court, crucial for a player so integral to the success of the team.

The Bulls utilized 20 lineups last season, Hinrich was a member of three of the top five lineups employed by Chicago (Source: Basketball-Reference). His game isn’t flashy, but the numbers show the team produced with him on the court.

Did we sign Hinrich over Augustin?

Simple answer, no.

The Bulls used all available cap space to sign Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic. Since we started below the cap we still had the Room MLE (allowing us to sign a player to a deal starting at $2.7 mil) to offer along with Veteran Minimum deals to fill out the roster.

We signed Hinrich using the Room MLE to a 2 year $5.4 million dollar contract while DJ Augustin signed in Detroit for 2 years $6 million dollars.

This wasn’t the case of Chicago being cheap or favoring “their guys”, we simply couldn’t match Detroit’s offer to Augustin due to the limitations of the CBA (Collective bargaining Agreement).

Hinrich had other suitors (Charlotte and Utah) who potentially could have offered more, but he took a discount to stay here, leaving many to wonder if DJ would have been open to a discount. My response to that is; Why would Augustin take a discount?

Hinrich’s played here for 9 years, his home is here, his family is here. He is tied to this place whether he plays for the Bulls or not. DJ on the other hand, has no such ties to the area.

Hinrich’s earned $66 million dollars over his 11 year career, Augustin has made a fraction of that, earning just $15 million dollars in six years.

The window for earning is very small for an NBA player when examined in the big picture, these guys have a finite amount of time to earn money, something Augustin is all too familiar with after almost being out of the league last season. If I were him, I would take the biggest contract I could and not think twice about it.

My take on Hinrich

I’m happy to have Hinrich back on the team and am hopeful that we can finally see him in the role he was intended to play, Derrick Rose’s backup. Hinrich’s days as a starter are gone, with that said, even after being thrust into a role he wasn’t intended to play, Hinrich’s value to the team was unquestionable.

Over the past two seasons the Bulls were 83-50 in games Hinrich appeared in and 10-21 over the 31 games he missed.

There’s many ways to measure a player’s success and contributions but at the end of the day it all boils down to wins and losses, and Kirk Hinrich, it would appear, contributes to winning games.

I’m hopeful the Bulls can sign another point guard before the start of the season as I believe it’s a position we should always roll three deep at. If everything goes according to plan we should be seeing plenty of Kirk this season without having to be overly reliant upon him.