A Simple Trade to Alleviate Some Issues: Kirk Hinrich

I figured I would propose a simple that the Bulls actually should be able to agree to in principle by the draft. A trade that does not rely on a team deciding to trade their best player or a team deciding to trade a player with potential that they don't really have any reason to trade. I suggest bringing Blogabull favorite Captain Kirk Hinrich back home. Sending Watson and Korver to Atlanta for Hinrich is basically a wash in terms of contracts because Watson and Korver's third years are not guaranteed. And assuming that Atlanta now wants to give Teague a chance as the starting point and that Jamal Crawford will not be resigned given the Hawk's contract situation, Atlanta could really use the increased depth from this trade. The Hawks should benefit by being able to get more minutes out of both Watson and Korver than the Bulls could and more than Hinrich could play by himself. This trade cannot become official until the new NBA business year begins, but because the money is basically the same the trade will work no matter what the new CBA ends up being so the teams can easily agree in principle to the deal prior to the draft. There is no reason the Bulls and Hawks should not be able to work something out along those basic lines.

So why should the Bulls want your friendly Bulls Blogger's favorite punching bag back? On the charitable side it would free longtime quality Blogabull poster wjb1492 from contemplating the future of the Atlanta Hawks. On the sadistic side I think I would get a kick out of this blog's founder having to deal with the return of the personification of every Bulls front office cliché. And because it is a simple achievable move to help this team win playoff games. I was never a fan of trading Hinrich, but I understood taking the risk. Now that the 2010 free agent year has came and went the Bulls might as well bring John Paxson's adopted son back for a number of reasons I will try to articulate.

Having spent time studying NBA history over a number of years I have concluded that is very hard to win with a point-guard-sized point guard as your best player. Size is simply a limiting factor in the NBA. Dwyane Wade is only about two inches taller than Derrick Rose, but those two inches result in Wade dunking balls that Rose has to make a difficult layup attempt on. It is a NBA reality that it is hard to win a championship if your best player is the shortest player on the floor. And it is even harder if that player is your point guard because there is so much wasted energy in playing point guard. When there is a change of possession Derrick Rose typically has to fight back to the ball. He then often has to expend energy eighty feet from the hoop defeating token pressure. And then when he does get the team into a half court offense he is attacking a set defense with a live dribble thirty feet from the hoop with all five defenders watching him.

The good news with Derrick Rose is that he is so athletic and strong that he can overcome being 6'2" as well as any player in NBA History. The level of play he reached this year with a game still with plenty of room for refinement gives plenty of hope that Derrick can reach that truly elite level of the best handful of players in the game. The other good news is that he is not a "pure" point guard, although he is always going to play the majority of his minutes there he is not locked into the things that hold point guards back. He's belongs in the group of scorers that are also play makers. He is more Dwyane Wade than Chris Paul. As Derrick's career continues I would like to see him become less and less dependent on dominating the ball to score. The pick and roll and isolation will always be a big part of his game, but he has to become smarter with a greater variety of ways to score. By moving him off the ball you have the opportunity for his first touch to be on the move against a rotating defense, or inside of twenty feet with an unused dribble.

This is where Kirk Hinrich's return matters Hinrich's ability to be a fully functioning starting caliber point guard, while also being an effective shooting guard on both offense and defense is a rare skill set. For years he did all the dirty work for Ben Gordon and then he did much the same for Derrick Rose during his first two seasons. When it became clear that Derrick was primarily a scorer that struggles with defense I switched from believing that Ben Gordon was the guard the Bulls needed to keep to believing that Hinrich was the guard the Bulls needed to keep.

Hinrich coming back gives the Bulls a better backup to Derrick Rose. C.J. Watson was more than serviceable and turned out to be a great defender in terms of stopping penetration by point guards, but his lack of court awareness was glaring and hurt his ability to run the second unit. He's mostly lost in the half court outside of getting his own shot. Hinrich is much more capable of quarterbacking the second unit as well as stepping in as the starter if Rose is hurt, but I really want Hinrich back to be in that closing lineup at the end of the second and fourth quarters. That is when it is important to not have Derrick involved in the energy wasting aspects of playing point guard, and when it is important to be able to move Derrick off the ball on offense. Before the season there was a possibility that Watson could be some of that for Derrick, but Watson's lack of court awareness on offense did not produce the desired effect and his lack of size was a significant limitation on defense. I don't have a lot of hope in that pairing improving to the point where it would need to be.

Hinrich obviously does not shoot the ball as well as Kyle Korver, but he is still a shooter that defenses have to honor. And a player that has had success coming of those same curls that Thibodeau had Korver run during the Scott Skiles years. And the team gains a defensive asset instead of liability. A guy that lets Derrick take the easiest defensive assignment. And Hinrich is that second important second ball-handler. Not just a second guy that can run a secondary pick and roll, but an experienced playoff point guard that can get the team into their offense. A guy that can let Derrick avoid the energy wasting aspects of point guard play late in halves, and help him score easier. For me getting someone like Hinrich that can save Derrick's energy on both offense and defense, while still being a credible shooting threat is more important than a true shooting guard that can get shots up.

If the Bulls acquire Hinrich ideally he would play the entire second and fourth quarters, first subbing for Rose and then playing with Rose. Ronnie Brewer showed enough against LeBron James and particularly Dwyane Wade that I view him as a keeper. I still think he fits best basically in his current role playing 20-25 minutes off the bench because of his offensive limitations. When Utah started Brewer they always still had three long range shooters in their lineup thanks to Mehmet Okur. I would personally be fine with Bogans continuing in his current role for another season, although the Bulls should obviously look for an upgrade at that position. Starting Bogans over Brewer and Korver always made sense to me, and I would be careful about upgrading the talent at that spot just to upgrade the talent. The reluctance/inability of Bogans to get his own shot off actually helps force the ball inside at the beginning of games when the Bulls should be running offense and trying to establish Boozer and Noah. If they bring someone else in for that spot they need a guy that can shoot the three, but that player also needs to be a disciplined offensive player. There is a reason a number of really good coaches typically start one perimeter player that is just a guy that takes open threes, but if the Bulls have Hinrich back they are also in a better position to take a chance on higher risk options to replace Bogans in the rotation. The Bulls can then use some combination of draft picks and free agency to pick up a third guard that can run the point and another wing that knock down an open three in case of injury to round out the perimeter players on the team. Those are two types of players that can be found late in drafts if the Bills decide to go that route.

Getting Kirk Hinrich back certainly is not sexy, especially if you are still busy over reacting to the Bulls playoff loss and think the Bulls are doomed to forever to lose to the Heat without a major talent upgrade. I'm not one of those people. Defeating Miami was never going to be easy, but nothing that happened in that series made me fear that the Bulls would never be able to beat the Heat. Just getting Hinrich would go along way toward making that happen by helping to solve some of the end of game matchup issues the Bulls face. Hinrich is not by any means a great player, but he is a starting caliber one and his versatility on both ends of the court would help the Bulls and Derrick Rose especially. At least in the short term he's more likely to make a positive impact than some of the popular trade targets such as O.J. Mayo. It is a trade that the Bulls should absolutely be able to get done with the Hawks, and if that magical blockbuster trade does actually materialize during next season Hinrich would still be an 8 million dollar expiring contract at the trade deadline. And if the mere thought of Hinrich back in a Bulls uniform upsets you there is probably a 90% chance Hinrich is coming back to the Bulls when he's a free agent in a year anyway so we might as well get it over with.

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