The Bulls knew they weren’t going to make a big splash in free agency this summer. So bringing back guard Kirk Hinrich – which was on the verge of being finalized on Sunday – could make sense.
Hinrich, 31, is able to play both guard positions, which makes him valuable to the Bulls because they need someone to fill in at the point early next season while Derrick Rose recovers from ACL surgery.
The biggest question is whether Hinrich can stay healthy. He’s coming off a disappointing season in Atlanta (6.6 points, .417 field-goal percentage) after having surgery the previous summer to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. In theory, he should be ready to move forward after a full offseason to get well.
Hinrich will likely open next season as the starting point guard, backed up by rookie Marquis Teague. Hinrich spent the past year and a half playing with Teague’s older brother, Jeff, in Atlanta. That might be a little weird for Hinrich. Even though they’re five years apart, the Teague brothers could probably pass for identical twins.
If the Bulls spend their taxpayer mid-level exception on Hinrich (the deal is rumored to be for two years and $6 million), they’ll be able to add additional players using only the minimum salary. Or though trade.
The Hinrich news probably means Houston shooting guard Courtney Lee wasn’t interested in signing for $3 million per season. Lee could conceivably join the Bulls in a sign-and-trade for Omer Asik, but I think the Bulls will simply match the Rockets’ offer to the third-year center.
A couple players on the Bulls’ radar are Nets forward Gerald Green and Suns shooting guard Michael Redd. Under the circumstances, those could be decent additions.
Green was a straight-from-high-school first-round pick of Boston in 2005 who clearly wasn’t prepared for pro basketball. He was out of the NBA by 2009, but played in Russia, China and the D-league, then was signed by the Nets midway through last season. Green averaged 12.9 points in 31 games for the Nets. Maybe at age 26, he’s ready blossom into a mature, competent NBA player.
Redd, who turns 33 in August, was a longtime scoring machine in Milwaukee. A couple of knee injuries led to him missing most of two seasons from 2009-11. He made a comeback with Phoenix last season and played OK, averaging 8.2 points in 15.1 minutes per game.
No signings will be official until at least Wednesday, so all this could change. But it still appears that Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer won’t be back next year. There may be a slim chance that Korver returns.