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Kirk Hinrich agrees to 2-year, $6M deal with Bulls

Kirk Hinrich Derrick Rose. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Hinrich vs. Watson

Here’s a statistical comparison of Kirk Hinrich and C.J. Watson from last season:

G GS Min. FG% 3PT% FT% Reb. Ast. TO Pts.

Hinrich 48 31 25.8 .414 .346 .781 2.1 2.8 1.2 6.6

Watson 49 25 23.7 .368 .393 .808 2.1 4.1 2.0 9.7

Updated: August 10, 2012 6:29AM

While other Eastern Conference contenders are adding new faces via free agency, the Bulls will satisfy their biggest offseason need with a familiar one after guard Kirk Hinrich verbally committed to a two-year contract Sunday that will pay him approximately $6 million.

The deal makes sense for the Bulls and Hinrich. The Bulls get the combo guard they desperately need as Hinrich can play the point while Derrick Rose recovers from surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left knee. When Rose returns, Hinrich can back him up and slide over to shooting guard to fill in for Rip Hamilton. He could be Hamilton’s permanent replacement if the veteran leaves after his contract expires after next season.

Hinrich is a capable defender at both positions, which makes him more versatile than C.J. Watson. Watson has been Rose’s backup the last two seasons, but it’s unlikely the Bulls will pick up his $3.2 million team option for next season with Hinrich’s signing imminent once players begin signing free-agent deals Wednesday.  The Bulls also could pick up Watson’s option and trade him to another team.

The Bulls also selected Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague with the 29th pick in last month’s draft.

For Hinrich, it’s a chance to return to the franchise where he played his first seven seasons and perhaps compete for an NBA championship, if not this season, then next. “Captain Kirk” still maintains a residence near the team’s training facility in Deerfield.

Also on general manager Gar Forman’s to-do list is deciding whether to pick up a $5 million team option on Kyle Korver. The three-point specialist told the Sun-Times in a recent interview that he would like to return to the Bulls but understands that salary-cap concerns could prevent it. 

“I really have no idea,” Korver said. “It’s going to be tough for the Bulls to bring everybody back. Regardless, I’ll have no hard feelings. They are trying to win championships.”

The Bulls also have to decide if they’ll match the Houston Rockets’ three-year, $25 million offer to Omer Asik within three days of the free-agent moratorium that ends Wednesday. Forman indicated that he’d match any offer for the backup center, but the Rockets’ deal, which balloons to almost $15 million in its third year, complicates the decision.

With Luol Deng possibly needing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist, wing depth is also a priority. Gerald Green, who played for the New Jersey Nets last season, has recently visited the Berto Center, a source confirmed, and might be willing to play for the veteran minimum. 

The Bulls have a club option on Ronnie Brewer, but he’s not expected to return.

John Lucas III was the Bulls’ third-string point guard last season. He has played against Hinrich in college and in the NBA and said he was unsure if Hinrich’s signing would affect his return to the Bulls.

Lucas said eight teams have expressed interest in him.

“Kirk has proved himself in the league for as many years as he has been in there,” Lucas said. “I like Kirk. I liked him in college. He has had some injuries the last couple of years, but he can still play.”

Hinrich averaged 6.6 points and 2.8 assists in 48 games (31 starts) with the Atlanta Hawks last season after missing the first 18 games of the season after surgery on his left shoulder. The Bulls’ career leader in three-pointers attempted and made, Hinrich shot .414 from the field and .346 from three-point range. 

Watson, meanwhile, played in 49 games last season, including a career-high 25 starts, and averaged 9.7 points and 4.1 assists. He shot .368 from the field and .393 from three-point range.

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