Let's put this in perspective: The league's third most valuable team, worth $600 million, a team that turns a cool $55 million a year in profit, gives you…Kirk Hinrich.
It's difficult to get excited about the deal, reportedly worth $6 million over two years, because it doesn't make the Bulls a better team. Hinrich isn't an upgrade over C.J. Watson, who is now a goner, and if management was intent on replacing him - as they obviously were - there were better options that likely could've been had for comparable money.
The theory, apparently, is that Hinrich can run the point in Derrick Rose's absence, then slide over to backup Rip Hamilton at shooting guard. There's just minor two problems with that: Hinrich isn't a very good point guard, and he's not a very good shooter. Other than that…
In a head to head comparison, Watson - who, unlike Hinrich, can create his own shot and drain threes - has better numbers across the board. He averaged 14.7 points per 36 last season along with 6.2 assists to 1.4 turnovers; Hinrich scored 9.2 per 36 with 3.8 assists and 1.1 turnovers.
Hinrich, a 9-year veteran, logged career lows in points per game, three point percentage, rebounds, assists and minutes played last season, and played in just 48 games. Always durable, he's been a little banged up recently; a hamstring injury knocked him out of the playoffs in 2011, then shoulder surgery that summer caused him to miss the start of the '11-12 campaign.
On the positive side, Hinrich, a former first-rounder (7th overall in 2003) who played his first seven seasons in Chicago, is a better defender than Watson, has a higher basketball IQ and makes better floor decisions. He'll probably be a fine mentor for first-round draft pick Marquis Teague. While he won't be looked on to provide much scoring, he does have a 12.6 ppg career average.
By wasting their mini-midlevel exception on Hinrich - which, until the details of the deal are known, is only assumed - the Bulls have only the veteran's minimum to work with, although they can still work sign-and-trades.
There's no denying that Captain Kirk if a fan favorite among many, and they'll be ecstatic when he signs on the dotted line. I'm more than bummed I can't share their joy. Who's next, Andres Nocioni?
Notes: Gerald Green, who played last season in New Jersey, met with Bulls officials on Friday and Saturday, and the Bulls have apparently talked with Michael Redd's camp as well….. There's some speculation that the Bulls might still try to sign a veteran point guard at the league minimum….. The Celtics are now considered as a leading contender for Courtney Lee.
Sources: Hinrich verbally commits to Bulls, Chicago Tribune; Source: Guard Hinrich commits to Bulls return, ESPN; Bulls agree to bring Hinrich back, CSN-Chicago ;Kirk Hinrich player profile, Yahoo! Sports; Kirk Hinrich player profile, BasketballRefernce.com; C.J. Watson player profile, BasketballReference.com.
YCN featured sports contributor Steve Merritt is - for better or worse - a lifelong Chicago Bulls, Bears and Cubs fan. He's followed the Bulls since 1969, when he tuned in after bedtime on a cheap dime store radio tucked under his pillow.
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