Chicago Bulls: Could Kirk Hinrich Return This Summer?

Michael Gibbons@DachicagofanCorrespondent IIMarch 29, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls hugs former teammate Kirk Hinrich #6 of the Atlanta Hawks before the start of a game at the United Center on March 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Every night seems to be a reunion for the Chicago Bulls lately.

Last week it was James Johnson. Wednesday it was Kirk Hinrich and on Friday it will be time to see Ben Gordon again.

An interesting thing about Hinrich though, he is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

Remember, Hinrich signed a five-year extension with the Bulls before the 2006 season. He was then traded from the Bulls during the summer of 2010 to give Chicago the maximum amount of cap space.

I know there are some people who love him while others were glad when he was gone, but I always have liked Hinrich. He was never a flashy player and maybe was playing way over his head when he was a member of the 2006 World Championship team that won bronze, but he was a likable guy.

He was a player that would fit coach Tom Thibodeau's system perfectly. That is actually why I have said since the day he was traded that we'd see him in a Bulls uniform again.

At 31, Hinrich's opportunities to find a starting job is getting smaller and since he still lives in the Chicago area why not return to where his pro career started.

As always, Hinrich had all the right things to say when asked about his impending free agency and if a return to Chicago might be in the cards?

I wouldn't be opposed to it (returning to Chicago). It's still a ways away, and a lot can happen. We'll see. I have no preconceived thoughts on what will happen. I'm excited to have a choice instead of just going wherever the business sends me, but I haven't thought about it much. I've been so caught up in this whirlwind season. I was trying to get healthy and then working to get back to playing at a level I should be playing at. Now I'm thinking about the playoffs.

CHICAGO - APRIL 25: Kirk Hinrich #12 of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot over Delonte West #13 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 25, 2010 in Chicago,
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In order for a return to happen, Hinrich would have to take a significant pay cut from the $8 million he is making this season. With big contracts going to Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer the Bulls wouldn't be able to offer him anything other than one of their exemptions.

Currently C.J. Watson has one year remaining on his contract, while John Lucas III will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Lucas could be brought back for the veteran minimum again while Watson could be involved in a trade to upgrade the roster, so there could be room for the former captain of the team.

I know I'd be all for it. To go along with his defense, Hinrich is also a 37.9 percent three-point shooter, which is nearly identical to Watson's career average.

So what do you think Bulls fans, do you want to see Hinrich in that No. 12 jersey again? Sound off below and let me know.


Make sure to follow me on Twitter @dachicagofan, and check out my weekly Bulls podcast every Wednesday on my site, The MG Experience.