CHICAGO (MCT) — For the second straight day, Tom Thibodeau made news, albeit less splashy than a four-year contract extension.
Thibodeau casually revealed that signs pointed to the Celtics acquiring Kirk Hinrich via trade at one point during his associate head coaching tenure in Boston from 2007 2010. The Bulls traded Hinrich to the Wizards in 2010 shortly after Thibodeau accepted the Bulls job.
“I always had great respect for him because of the type of competitor that he is,” Thibodeau said. “Fortunately, it ended up the way I would’ve liked.”
Hinrich’s trade to the Wizards didn’t end up the way the Bulls would have liked because the move, made strictly to increase salary-cap space, didn’t net LeBron James or Dwyane Wade in free agency.
But all’s well that ends well: The Bulls posted the best regular-season records the last two seasons, and Thibodeau finally gets to coach Hinrich, who said he feels great after an injury-plagued tenure with the Hawks following his brief Wizards stint.
“We’ll see what he can handle,” Thibodeau said. “He’s put a lot of work into rehabbing. He looks great. He’s moving extremely well. The fact he can play the point and the off guard and can guard three positions, he can fill a number of different responsibilities for us.”
Hinrich missed the Bulls-Hawks second-round playoff series in 2011 with a torn hamstring, then underwent surgery last November to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He admitted he returned too early, gritting out 48 of 66 games in the lockout-shortened season and the Hawks’ first-round loss to the Celtics.
Now, John Paxson’s first draft pick as general manager in 2003 steps into the large void created by Derrick Rose’s absence.
“I don’t really feel that much pressure,” Hinrich said. “This is a good fit for me. It’s a team that plays right with the things they emphasize. Being an outsider looking in, I admired the way the team played (under Thibodeau), and I wanted to be a part of that. As far as filling in, collectively we’re going to have to do a good job.”
Hinrich’s two-season departure caused everyone from Thibodeau to Rose to Luol Deng to gush about his presence, one of those examples of absence making hearts grow fonder.
“Sometimes when you have a player here, you (overlook) what he does,” said Deng, who arrived in Chicago one draft later. “The years that Kirk has been gone, everyone who follows the Bulls and everyone on the staff, you start missing what he used to do. It’s clear how good he is defensively and how committed he is to the team and how hard he plays.”
Sounds like Hinrich will fit right in with Thibodeau.