In many ways. Kirk Hinrich should feel as though he never left the Bulls. At his old home, he was considered a defensive stopper, team leader and mentor to a John Calipari-coached point guard.
Now that he's on Washington, the only difference is his point guard is rookie John Wall instead of Derrick Rose.
Hinrich and the Wizards visit the United Center tonight for a preseason matchup. In Washington's first two games, Hinrich has started with Wall and Gilbert Arenas in a three-guard offense.
During the Wizards' opening win at Dallas, Hinrich's plus-minus rating was an absurd plus-27, which means Washington outscored the Mavs by 27 points during the 28 minutes Hinrich was on the floor. The Wizards won at Cleveland on Thursday with Hinrich's plus-minus at a modest plus-5.
"A couple of people are calling him Elmer. He's like Elmer's glue, keeping everything together," Washington coach Flip Saunders said in 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 downplayed tonight's return, but playing as a visitor in Chicago will have to feel odd after spending seven seasons in a Bulls uniform.
The Bulls traded Hinrich and first-round draft pick Kevin Seraphin on draft night in a salary-dump. The goal was to free enough cap room to sign LeBron James and a second free agent. The Bulls snared the second free agent with Carlos Boozer, but not the first.
"I was over it fairly quickly, just from a standpoint of, I can't dwell on things I can't control," Hinrich said in the Post. "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. 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."
A couple other Wizards to watch are some draft busts hoping to find new life. Yi Jianlian scored 16 points off the bench against Cleveland and ex-Laker Adam Morrison is also getting playing time.