The Washington Post

Kirk Hinrich gone but presence with Wizards still felt

The Wizards avoided facing Kirk Hinrich when they got trounced by 18 points on Wednesday in Atlanta, but that didn’t necessarily mean that his presence wasn’t felt.

Thank me later. Take care. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

A brief rental of a backup point guard accounted for nearly one-fourth of their roster. Hinrich arrived from Chicago with Kevin Seraphin and $3 million during the 2010 draft, was dealt to Atlanta at the trade deadline for Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans and the draft pick that wound up being Chris Singleton.

So, the Wizards now have their current starting shooting guard, a valued defender off the bench, a developing big man and a veteran leader – and also got to pocket about $9 million, if you add the $6.2 million that Bibby gave back just so he could flee.

Hinrich also provided a few morsels of wisdom to help John Wall in his early transition to the NBA.

“He’s going to grow as a player, just naturally, with time and experience,” Hinrich said on Wednesday of Wall. “Obviously, he has the tools to be a very good player in this league. It’s just a matter of everything clicking for him. He’s had some really great games and there are times when you can tell, he’s just still young. I think he’s come a long way, even from when I was there.”

Hinrich wants to put behind the injuries that have beset him over the past two seasons. He dealt with a bruised calf in Washington and suffered a strained right hamstring last postseason, denying him the opportunity to face his first team, Chicago, in the second round.

“It was definitely hard sitting out,” said Hinrich, who spent his first seven seasons with the Bulls. “Probably one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my basketball life not to be able to play in that series.”

Hinrich injured his shoulder during offseason workouts. He will have his shoulder examined again when the Hawks head to Chicago next week. “Right now, I got one foot in because I’m injured,” Hinrich said. “I had a rough go of it these last couple of years, and I had the injury bug a little bit. Hopefully, after I get my shoulder healthy, put all that stuff behind me.”

Hinrich is starting to feel more settled in Atlanta. He and his wife, Jill, welcomed their second child in September. But he is anxious to return to the Hawks, who haven’t trailed this season and are just the third team in NBA history to win their first two games by a combined 50 points or more.

“We feel like we’re a dangerous team and when we play the right way, we can beat anybody,” he said. “It’s just trying to put forth that effort every night and not try to have the roller coaster that we’ve had last year. We played great but we were just up and down a lot.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.



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