Hinrich and Butler expected in Brooklyn


Dec 23

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It’s 800 miles to Chicago, they’ve got almost a full roster, it’s late morning, it’s inside, they’ve got sunglasses and it’s Christmas Day.

Hit it!

The Bulls are putting the band back together.

“Doing better,” Kirk Hinrich said Monday after participating in practice. “Today was big for me to get my legs underneath me a little bit and get a little bit of timing and rhythm. But yeah, I’m definitely excited to be back. As long as I don’t get hurt walking to the car or getting off the couch or anything like that, I plan on playing.”

"As long as I don’t get hurt walking to the car or getting off the couch or anything like that, I plan on playing,” said Hinrich of Chicago's Christmas Day game in Brooklyn.

“As long as I don’t get hurt walking to the car or getting off the couch or anything like that, I plan on playing,” said Hinrich of Chicago’s Christmas Day game in Brooklyn.

No jokes as we know those things happen in Chicago.

Did they salt the parking lot outside the Berto Center?

In any case, it appears as if the injured Bulls, Hinrich, Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng, are beginning to return to the lineup.

It seems likely Hinrich and Butler, who practiced with the team Monday, should play Wednesday in the Christmas Day opener in Brooklyn. Deng did not practice, so he’ll be listed as day-to-day. Deng said last week he was targeting Wednesday or Saturday at home against Dallas.

“They were able to practice and are feeling a lot better,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of Hinrich, who missed five games with a back injury, and Butler, who sprained his ankle last week against the Thunder. “I want to see how they feel tomorrow. Both of them did everything, the contact. So it was good.”

Barring setback, Thibodeau was asked, do you see any reason why they wouldn’t play Wednesday?

“I don’t,” he said.

As for Deng, Thibodeau said: “We’ll see if he’s any better tomorrow. He’s improving (from an Achilles injury) but still not comfortable enough. I go day by day. I don’t look a week down the road or whatever. You never know. Sometimes a guy can feel a lot better that night. That’s the way I look at it. Get your treatment. Come in twice a day. See the trainers. Do everything they’re asking you to do. That’s your responsibility. You do that and you can’t go, then you can’t go. I think you owe that to the team.

“I think we have some guys who are playing really well right now,” added Thibodeau. “I’m focused on the guys we have. I like the progress they’re making. I think Jo’s (Noah) playing at a very high level. I think Taj (Gibson) has played great all year. D.J. (Augustin) has been terrific. I thought Tony (Snell), that was his best game as a pro (win over Cleveland Saturday). I want to see him build on that, build some consistency. I like the way we shot the ball, making 10 threes. And they were great shots. Guys were making plays for each other and quick decisions. So it was good.”

Good is a very big upgrade for the Bulls of late.

So the Bulls should have most of their backcourt, of course, without Derrick Rose, who is out for the season.

“It was spasms, just from, I think, wear and tear,” said Hinrich. “I’ve been seeing the chiropractor a lot, doing everything I can to get it lined up and everything loosened up where I can move and play. I was hoping it wouldn’t take this long. But I’m happy that it’s finally better.”

Butler figures to return to the starting shooting guard spot and perhaps Hinrich to start with him. Though it’s possible Thibodeau, who doesn’t discuss such things, starts Augustin, who had a double/double in the win over the Cavs Saturday. Augustin showed he can run the team and make threes and could play some with Hinrich. Plus, it would ease Hinrich’s burden on his health coming back playing off the bench.

“It’s definitely something I think we’ve needed,” Hinrich said about playing with another point guard at times as he was doing with Rose. “He’s another guy who can play pick and roll. He’s a great decision maker, a knockdown shooter. Just me personally, just get my minutes down a little bit so I can just stay healthier. I feel like I’m more effective that way, too.

“I don’t even know is that’s the plan or not,” Hinrich said about a two point guard backcourt, which has been in vogue with some teams. “I love playing with another guy who can handle the ball. It just makes the game that much easier for you. We don’t just have one guy trying to play pick and roll. We can play it on both sides. It keeps the defense honest. His ability to penetrate, shoot, run the team, play pick and roll, that makes a big difference.”

So it’s off to Brooklyn for a Christmas breakfast for the Bulls. No four fried chickens and no dry white toast. But perhaps a recipe for some on court success.

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