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Players, coach Tom Thibodeau glad Kirk Hinrich is on board

WashingtWizards coach Flip Saunders talks with Kirk Hinrich first quarter an NBA preseasbasketball game against Detroit Pistons Tuesday Oct. 19

Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders talks with Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, in Toledo, Ohio. The Pistons won 98-92. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

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Updated: November 4, 2012 6:22AM

Maybe it’s the important role guard Kirk Hinrich will play or it’s simply the familiarity some players have with him, but he has been the recipient of a lot of praise since training camp opened.

Derrick Rose recruited Hinrich, 31, to rejoin the Bulls, calling him “someone I could see playing alongside a long time,” and Luol Deng said Hinrich is the type of player “you start missing” when he’s not on your team.

Coach Tom Thibodeau even lamented that he hadn’t gotten a chance to work with Hinrich during his nine-year career until now, mentioning a missed trade opportunity for Hinrich when he was on the Boston Celtics’ staff.

“We thought we were going to get him there, but that didn’t happen,” Thibodeau said Tuesday. “I’ve always had great respect for him for the type of competitor that he is. Fortunately, it ended up the way I would’ve liked.”

Hinrich has endured plenty of woes, including shoulder surgery, since last playing for the Bulls in 2010, and his production has dipped. But the Bulls will lean on Hinrich to compensate for the loss of Rose (torn ACL).

“I kind of had a rough couple of years injury-wise, [but] this is as good as I’ve felt,” said Hinrich, who has a two-year deal with the Bulls. “I’ve really been concentrating on things that I never used to have to concentrate on. So I’m just feeling really good.”

“We’ll see what [Hinrich] can handle,” Thibodeau said. “He’s put a lot of work into rehabbing. He looks great. He’s moving extremely well. I think his versatility — he can play the point, he can play the off guard [and] he guards the three position — will help him fill a number of responsibilities.”

Talking with Taj

A day after general manager Gar Forman called forward Taj Gibson a core player and said he wanted to lock him into a long-term extension soon, Gibson did his best to steer attention away from it.

“I’m thinking about wearing a Bulls jersey for as long as I can,” Gibson said. “[But] right now, I can’t focus on [contract talks]. I can only focus on what I can take care of, and that’s basketball. … I can’t worry about my agent or what Gar is going to say about money.”

Gibson, 27, is expected to see additional time at center with Omer Asik gone to the Houston Rockets.

“[Gibson’s] strength is his versatility,” Thibodeau said. “Defensively, he has the ability to guard, in some cases, all five positions. … He’s really added a lot to his game.”

On the record

Forward Carlos Boozer on Thibodeau’s four-year extension: “I’m happy for him. He can sleep a little better at night. Not that he will. He’s always in here [at the Berto Center].”

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