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updated: 5/20/2013 4:39 PM

Bulls hoping injury-prone Hinrich will heal

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  • Bulls guard Derrick Rose missed the entire NBA season, and Kirk Hinrich sat out 30 games with various injuries. While Bulls officials once thought Hinrich could play point to give Rose some time at shooting guard, it's more likely Hinrich will backup Rose next season.

      Bulls guard Derrick Rose missed the entire NBA season, and Kirk Hinrich sat out 30 games with various injuries. While Bulls officials once thought Hinrich could play point to give Rose some time at shooting guard, it's more likely Hinrich will backup Rose next season.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

Fourth in a series

One of the most telling statistics of the Bulls' season was their 9-21 record, including playoffs, when Kirk Hinrich missed time with injuries.

Two obvious conclusions can be drawn: At age 32, Hinrich is still an effective NBA player, but he's injury-prone.

A year earlier, Hinrich played in just 48 games for the Atlanta Hawks after needing surgery to repair a torn labrum early in the season. When he re-signed with the Bulls and arrived back at his old home, there was plenty of talk in preseason about how he used the summer to get healthy and was ready for a return to form.

He was very similar to the player traded away by the Bulls in 2010. For Hinrich, playing at such high intensity over 10 NBA seasons clearly has taken a toll.

The outlook for next season changes drastically, though, with Derrick Rose back in the lineup. One of the reasons for signing Hinrich as a free agent last summer was to be able to play Rose at shooting guard and save some wear and tear as he returned from ACL surgery.

That plan isn't as potent with Rose waiting until next season to make his return. Unless there's a significant trade or injury, the Bulls will be starting Jimmy Butler at the two guard, so Rose will be in his familiar role at the point.

Hinrich figures to be more of a backup point guard and defensive specialist, which could be a timely role for him. He probably needs to slow it down and keep his minutes lower to prolong his career, not to mention keep him healthy for the playoffs. Next season might be the Bulls' last chance to go at Miami's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with a mix of Hinrich, Butler and Luol Deng.

As he was during his first stint with the Bulls, Hinrich is a streaky shooter. He'll have nights when he can't miss, but overall he shot just 37.7 percent from the field, and 39 percent from 3-point range last season.

When he was healthy, Hinrich seemed to have most of the speed and defensive toughness that made him such an underrated draft pick in 2003. There were times late in the season when he struggled defensively, however, and it wasn't clear if the reason was aging legs or just another injury he was trying to play through.

In a backup role, maybe Hinrich can extend his career for a few more years and continue providing Rose with some veteran insight. During the two years Hinrich played in Washington and Atlanta, he never gave up his Bannockburn home, so finishing his career with the Bulls figures to be his preference.

For that to happen, though, he needs to stay a little healthier during the second leg of his two-year deal with the Bulls.

Next man up: Jimmy Butler

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