It is the end of an era.
Seven years ago with the 7th pick in the 2003 NBA draft the Chicago Bulls drafted point guard Kirk Hinrich. Some thought it was general manager John Paxson drafting himself but if it wasn't for Jay Williams suffering a career ending injury in a motorcycle accident shortly before the draft it may have never happened.
It is interesting that Kirk being traded may lead to the Bulls signing a few other members of that 2003 draft class. With this move the Bulls should have enough cap space to sign two free agents to max contracts.
Kirk made a big impression his first four years in the league before leveling off these past three seasons. The past two seasons can be explained by the presence of former rookie of the year and current all-star Derrick Rose. For more on Kirk's rise and fall check out another piece I wrote: What Happened to Kirk?
The trade that will send Capt Kirk to the Wizards along with the 17th pick in this year's draft can't be made final until July 8 when the Wizards will have the cap space to take on Kirk's contract without having to match the salary.
The drafting of Hinrich and the elevation of Paxson to general manager went hand & hand as the beginning of the rebuilding process. The Bulls have made the playoffs five times during Kirk's seven years in Chicago. Kirk was the link between the Jerry Krause rebuilding around Jamal Crawford, Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry, the new group made up of Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Chris Duhon and Andres Nocioni and now the building around hometown hero Derrick Rose. I, for one have, always been a big fan of Hinrich and will be sad to see him go. He might be overpaid but he is the type of player you want.
Kirk finishes his career with the Bulls as the franchise leader in three pointers as well as fourth on the steals and assists list behind Jordan, Pippen and Van Lier. I hope that maybe after Kirk is done doing for John Wall what he has done with Derrick Rose the last two seasons that maybe the Bulls could bring him back and let him finish out his career on top here in Chicago.