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Bulls Mon Jul 09 2012

Bulls Welcome Back Captain Kirk

Bulls_200.pngAfter being dealt in an offseason trade two summers ago to free up cap space in a futile attempt to sign LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh, Kirk Hinrich was most disappointed by the fact that he didn't get to play for incoming head coach Tom Thibodeau. He'll no longer have to wonder what it would be like to hear play calls shouted by that famed hoarse voice.

The former first round pick by the Bulls has verbally agreed to a two-year contract worth roughly $6 million dollars, and will officially sign on July 11th when the new league year begins. His signing ends CJ Watson's tenure as the Bulls backup point guard, as he's been reportedly notified the team will not pick up his option for this year.

Watson's exit isn't surprising. He was wildly inconsistent in Derrick Rose's absence throughout the season, and struggled mightily in the playoffs. Some of the blame can be placed on the plantar fasciitis he had surgery for after the season, but the move came down to simple economics. Would you rather have one year of Watson who can only play point guard, or two years of Hinrich who can play the point while Marquis Teague learns the league and can move to shooting guard upon Rose's return?

Hinrich's deal also puts the Bulls closer to the luxury tax line. If the team releases Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer along with letting Omer Asik go to Houston, they sit at just over $65.5 million with five roster spots left to fill, including a backup center. It's incredibly unlikely they stay under the tax unless they can find a minimum salaried players to plug in the gaps, and doing so would seriously limit the damage the team could do in a potential postseason run if Rose is able to return in the first few months of 2013.

Hinrich struggled with injuries and fluctuating playing time with the Atlanta last year, but is very familiar playing with another point guard named Teague, having mentored Marquis' older brother Jeff on the Hawks the past season and a half. Hinrich was never much of a scorer, but remains a solid stand-still shooter, and can defend any point guard and smaller shooters at an above average level.

There's an outside chance the Bulls will try to trade Watson for a lower paid combo guard or center, but it's unlikely that'll happen unless a team like the Wizards are willing to deal some of their depth in the frontcourt. Instead, the Hawks may have interest to fill the void Hinrich just left, and the Mavericks, Raptors, and Cavs also may be in the market for a veteran backup.

Captain Kirk returning to the Bulls is a solid, low cost maneuver. He was arguably the missing piece on the team after they traded him (a combo guard that could start at shooting guard, shoot threes, and play defense), but will now be required to keep the ship afloat in the absence of a former MVP.

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