NBA Free Agency 2012: What Does Kirk Hinrich's Return Do for Chicago Bulls?

Michael GibbonsCorrespondent IIJuly 8, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 29:  Kirk Hinrich #6 of the Atlanta Hawks moves the ball against the Boston Celtics in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 29, 2012 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The Hawks won 83-74. 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 Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Kirk Hinrich has agreed to return to the Chicago Bulls, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune and multiple sources have reported.

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft, the Bulls traded their steady point guard in the 2010 summer to clear cap space. At the time I said that Hinrich would return to Chicago during the summer of 2012, and I'm glad that I can say I was right.

The two sides have reportedly agreed on a two-year contract at about $3 million each season. So, how does the return of the former Kansas Jayhawks star affect the team?

For starters, it probably brings an end to the C.J. Watson era. Watson is due about $3.2 million this upcoming 2012-13 season. With the additions of Hinrich and rookie Marquis Teague, the depth chart looks a little crowded. The Bulls hold a team option on Watson, and after his struggles in the playoffs, it is not a surprise the team has decided to go another direction.

Secondly, the 31-year-old Hinrich provides coach Tom Thibodeau with a player that fits his system perfectly. Back in 2010, it seemed like a match made in heaven. Hinrich is a tough defender who can play at either guard spot.

My only question is, is he ready to play 40 minutes a night? Over the last three seasons in Washington and Atlanta, Hinrich had season averages of approximately 31, 29 and 26 minutes a game, and suffered from a shoulder injury late in 2011, requiring surgery.

I would expect Hinrich to start alongside Richard Hamilton and probably see time playing with Teague as well. If Luol Deng misses time to start the season, maybe we will even see some three-guard lineups.

Finally, the move gives the Bulls a good locker-room guy who will be a solid fill-in while Derrick Rose continues his work back from a devastating ACL tear. When Rose returns, Hinrich will move into the role of first guard off the bench, and probably do it very well.

While a lot of people may remember Hinrich missing big three-pointers during his past stint with the team, he is actually a pretty decent shooter from outside. For his career, he shoots nearly 38 percent from three-point land, which is just slightly better than Watson.

The addition of Teague and Hinrich also means that fan favorite John Lucas III most likely will not be back. I wouldn't completely rule out a return, as he could accept a minimum contract or maybe a non-guaranteed deal from the Bulls should Lucas not get picked up by another team.

Overall, it might not be a flashy move like the signing of Ray Allen (Miami) or Jason Terry (Boston), but Kirk Hinrich's addition is a good one that will help the team.

What do you think, Bulls fans? Are you happy to have Captain Kirk back? Sound off below.


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