Kirk Hinrich isn't in Kansas anymore. But the former Jayhawk has clicked his heels three times and agreed to return to his NBA "home." The Bulls originally drafted the veteran guard seventh overall in 2003.
The Chicago Tribune originally reported that Hinrich had reached a verbal agreement to return to The Windy City. The contract will reportedly pay the combo guard $6 million over two years, using up the team's full taxpayers' mid-level exception.
With as many as 8 teams reportedly interested in acquiring the former NBA All-Defensive Second Teamer, coach Tom Thibodeau proved to be instrumental in "Captain" Kirk's decision.
The Trib's K.C Johnson tweeted:
"Playing for Thibodeau proved big factor in Hinrich's decision to verbally accept Bulls' offer."
Hirich's sticky perimeter defense and win-at-all-costs intangibles made him a fan favorite in the seven seasons he played in Chicago.
It comes as no surprise to Bulls fans that playing for Thibs contributed to the gritty guard's decision to rejoin the team. Hinrich will likely waste no time becoming Thibs' on-court reflection. You can almost hear the former Bull echoing his coach's mantra of defense and rebounding in post-game interviews already.
Thibs also weighed in on what Hinrich brings to a team.
"He's an experienced guy," Thibodeau told ESPNChicago.com. "He's played very well for all the teams that he's been with and he brings a lot in terms of veteran experience."
Last season, injuries slowed Hinrich, 31, as the versatile guard averaged only 6.6 point and 2.8 assists on 41.4 percent shooting in 48 games with the Hawks. Assuming a return to good health, count on the 31-year old to contribute more on the court for Chicago in '12-'13.
Signing Hinrich is a big win for Gar Forman and John Paxson as the organization tries to improve the team while barely squeezing into the keyhole that has become the NBA salary cap structure.
The 6-3 guard will temporarily fill the gaping hole left by Derrick Rose's injury. No precise timetable for the former MVP's return has been set for next season.
Notes and Dunks: The Bulls have also reportedly informed C.J. Watson that he won't be returning to the team. His $3 million team option may still be used in a sign and trade with another team. Courtney Lee and Derek Fisher are a few of the free agent guards that have also been linked to Chicago. RFA Omer Asik is expected to sign a three-year $25 million offer sheet with the Houston Rockets on July 11th. Chicago will have three days to decide whether or not to match.
Photo via Wikimedia
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