Wizards’ Hinrich talks about return to Chicago


Oct 8

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

The Bulls are home Friday for the first time in the preseason, though I suspect there’s a bit more interest for now in who is visiting the Bulls than who is playing for them.

There was a lot of excitement until the Carlos Boozer injury, but with Boozer, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson out in Thursday’s loss in Dallas, it’s difficult to get a read yet on this new Bulls team.

So as I opened my e-mail Friday morning, the first one read this way:

If you were the Bulls GM, if you had known what you know now (no LeBron, Wade, or Bosh), would you have traded Kirk and then replace him with Brewer and Korver? Their salaries roughly are a wash, right? Isn’t we practically exchanging a streaky shooting hard working defensive player who can relieve Rose at PG with a tall defensive shooting guard and a 3 point specialist?

Abram Bachtiar

Sam: You miss the point, as many continue to do. Kirk is gone and it was the right thing at the time, and that’s all that matters. The only ones who get to have multiple positions are the fans and media. If they knew John Wilkes Booth was so upset and homicidal maybe they would have guarded Lincoln’s suite at the Ford Center, if the Trail Blazers knew what would become of Sam Bowie and Greg Oden… if, if, if…

The Bulls had to take the shot, and could you support a team that said, in effect, “We can’t afford to lose Kirk Hinrich, so we’re taking a pass on LeBron James.” There was no chance James would even have met with the Bulls if they didn’t have those two slots for free agents available. Was it fixed in advance? No one knows, and James did lobby for Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire to come to Cleveland first. Was that just a cover? Was Dwyane Wade talking to the Bulls to distract them? They didn’t believe so. The general consensus was the Bulls had one of the best chances to land at least two of those three. They had to go for it.

The irony, of course, was the majority of the mail I got about Kirk the last few years was suggesting the team dump him. The sense I get now is he’s like an old girlfriend from college when you only remember the good times. I spent as much time defending Kirk as I do Deng. I felt he was valuable, if no All-Star, good to have, if not exactly a true point guard. But the Bulls moved on and it was the right thing to do.

Coaches generally love Kirk, and Wizards coach Flip Saunders has been raving about Kirk in training camp. He said Kirk and John Wall were the best players in camp.

“A couple of people are calling him Elmer. He’s like Elmer’s glue, keeping everything together,” Saunders told the Washington Post. “What I thought we were getting when we got him is a great defender, someone with an extremely high basketball IQ, an intelligent leader, a mentor for John. All those things I thought, that’s what he is.”

Hinrich spoke to the Post about his return to Chicago and here are his comments: “It was a deal where they felt they had to swing for the fences and this was their time to do it. I understand it. You can always look back and say, ‘What if they would’ve done this? What if they would’ve done that?’ But it’s just wasted time to think about stuff like that, because it’s over. There is nothing you can do about it, no sense dwelling on it.

“I always hated to lose defensively,” said Hinrich. “It always drove me crazy to have somebody score on me. The first time somebody torched you or killed you, it hurt my pride too bad. I’ve been torched before, because good offense always beats good defense. But getting in the league, you realize that’s how teams win championships. That’s how teams win games. You have to be talented, but you have to be able to defend.

“I was over it fairly quickly, just from a standpoint of, I can’t dwell on things I can’t control,” he told the Post about leaving the Bulls and saying he was “blindsided” about the deal. “The Wizards were excited to have me and I was excited to have a fresh start. It’s not going to be emotional at all for me. It’s going to be another game. It’ll be a little strange being in the other locker room or something like that. But it’s a game we want to win.

“I’m excited, just to go back,” Hinrich said. “I love Chicago. It’s a great city. It was really good to me. Great fans and the organization was good to me. I’ve got a real comfort level playing in United Center, so I’m just looking forward to going there and playing.”

I lived in Washington for four years and loved it there. It’s a great, exciting city. I talked to Hinrich before he left and told him it would be worth it to live in the District of Columbia given the wonderful energy to the city. He moved to the suburbs.

It will be good to see him again, though.

What do you think? Leave a comment below: