Basketball / Sports

Hinrich hopes to remain with Bulls rest of year

CHICAGO -- In his 11th season, Kirk Hinrich is at that stage of his career where each offseason he sits down with his family and gauges what's best and what's next.

Hinrich will be playing somewhere next season. He just doesn't know where and for how much longer.

"I haven't really put a number on it," Hinrich said. "Just as long as I can still enjoy it and be somewhat effective, I'll play."

What Hinrich does know is where he wants to be for the remainder of this season.

"I'm happy here," Hinrich said. "I came back here because I wanted to be here. I still like our team. I get along great with the guys. We've been playing well lately so I just want to keep that going."

Hinrich is finishing the two-year deal he signed after turning down a longer, more lucrative offer from the Bucks in 2012. The Warriors recently expressed interest in Hinrich before trading for backcourt depth from the Celtics.

Hinrich, traded for, well, nothing but salary-cap space in the all-in pursuit of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in 2010, has been around long enough to tune out the noise. And at this point, it's more likely Hinrich finishes this season with the Bulls than not.

"It's out of your control so you just keep going and trying to take care of business and focus on what we're doing here," he said. "It's not the first time my name has been in trade rumors. It's something I'm kind of used to and don't read too much into them."

For the second straight season, Hinrich has been thrust into the unexpected role of full-time starter because of Derrick Rose's absence. He's averaging 8.1 points, 4.8 assists and 3 rebounds in 30.4 minutes and has missed just five games after missing 22 last season.

Hinrich is quietly playing through what he called "a jacked-up pinky" on his left hand that he has taped. He joked he doesn't use that hand much anyway.

The Bulls long have felt Hinrich's value has transcended statistics. His performance Saturday night, in which he posted six points, seven rebounds and six assists in just 29:31, is a prime example. His strong defense on the 76ers' Michael Carter-Williams helped set the tone.

"There are so many things that go into what he does for us," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You just look at how the team functions when he's on the floor. And it's always significantly better than when he's off the floor.

"And he gives you a toughness. And it starts on the ball. We're obviously very pleased with what he's doing."

When he turned 33 earlier this month, Hinrich laughed when asked if he got D.J. Augustin a present since Augustin has lessened Hinrich's workload. The two often close games together.

"Kirk has always been a smart player," Augustin said. "He's quicker than you think he is with the ball. Playing against him, he was always attacking, trying to get into the lane. He can shoot it. He can do a lot of things. He's a great player."

Ever the realist, Hinrich would settle for gritty. And that fits just fine for a Bulls team trying to make its way without Rose.

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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