Kirk Hinrich likely won’t get the chance for payback that he has probably sought since the Chicago Bulls “blindsided” him with a salary-dumping trade to the Wizards last June. The Atlanta Hawks announced on Friday that Hinrich was doubtful for the team’s second-round series against the Chicago Bulls with a significant strain to his right hamstring.
Hinrich suffered the injury in the fourth-quarter of the Hawks’ series-clinching, upset victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday. After the Magic had whittled a 12-point deficit down to two points, Hinrich drove around his former Wizards teammate, Gilbert Arenas, and made a floater in the lane over Dwight Howard to give the Hawks a 78-74 lead with about three minutes remaining. Hinrich landed awkwardly and immediately reached for his right leg. He rolled over, hopped up, and later collapsed to the ground before being carried to the locker room by two Hawks trainers.
The loss of Hinrich is especially huge for the Hawks after they sacrificed Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans, Mike Bibby and a first-round pick in order to add one of the league’s best perimeter defenders. The Wizards certainly benefited from the trade, and Hinrich was paying dividends in the postseason, as he averaged 10 points, shot 48.9 percent from the floor.
He also helped keep Jameer Nelson from having much of an influence in the series, with his ability to play pick-and-roll defense, going under screens and recovering in time to contest jumpers. Hinrich certainly would’ve been helpful against Chicago, where he spent his first seven years and is very familiar with their most important players, including Derrick Rose. He still keeps an offseason home a few blocks from Bulls center Joakim Noah.
But Hinrich had little success against his former team in the regular season. In five games with the Wizards and Hawks, Hinrich won once and was outscored by a total of 65 points in the four losses. And, while Hinrich knows Rose’s moves, he was among many players who struggled to contain the MVP candidate this season.
Rose averaged 26.2 points per 36 minutes when Hinrich was on the floor and 24 points when he was on the bench. Without Hinrich, the Hawks are expected to rely on Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague to slow down Rose.
The Wizards had a little fun with Hinrich when he returned to Washington for the first time since the trade. Hinrich didn’t exactly laugh at the gags the Wizards had prepared for him, but he did crack a smile when asked if he was allowing himself to look ahead to a possible second-round matchup against his first NBA team.
“Orlando is a tall enough task. We’ll see what happens,” Hinrich said at the time, then he shrugged. “I know we’re going to go out there and play hard, let the chips fall where they may.”
The Hawks played hard and pulled off a mild upset over the Magic. But the chips fell the wrong way for Hinrich, who had grown accustomed to making postseason runs with the Bulls, which made getting dealt to a lottery team in Washington more frustrating. But in five previous trips, Hinrich had only made it to the second round once.
Hinrich wanted an opportunity to be on a playoff team this season. The Wizards gave it to him, but unless he can find a way to heal quickly, his run likely is already over.