BULLS' NO. 1 PICK
An emergency action
Bulls tab Hinrich to take place of injured Williams
Thursday night, rookie general manager John Paxson said plenty without saying a word.
The Bulls selected Kansas guard Kirk Hinrich with the seventh pick in the NBA draft, surprising everybody from Hinrich to Jamal Crawford to Hinrich's hometown fans in Sioux City, Iowa.
Later the Bulls added Mississippi State forward Mario Austin and Arizona State forward Tommy Smith in the second round. Florida forward Matt Bonner was drafted and dealt to Toronto for a future second-round pick.
When Hinrich worked out at the Berto Center on June 14, the Bulls were so confident with their guard situation that they invited three other players in that dayall of them forwards.
But Williams' motorcycle accident June 19, which has left his basketball future in serious jeopardy, changed everything.
"Our two priorities for next year are to push the ball more, which Kirk can do, and run the triangle offense, which Kirk can fit into as a good system player," Paxson said. "Obviously, a week ago, the decision would've been a little different."
Hinrich, 22, is that rare breed in today's game, a four-year college player who is older than veterans Williams, Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry.
At 6 feet 33/4 inches and 186 pounds, Hinrich must get stronger. But he can play either guard position, shot 43 percent on three-pointers and is a coach's son who impressed management with his maturity, gritty play and knowledge of the game.
"I do have the versatility to slide over if needed, but I'm a point guard first," Hinrich said. "That's my position. I'm a big competitor, and I've tried to mold my game where I don't have any weaknesses."
Hinrich's shooting ability is expected to help relieve pressure on Curry and Chandler, who should face more double-teaming and zone defenses this season. He's also considered a strong defender.
"He's a push guard who is a very good shooter," coach Bill Cartwright said. "He'll fit in with our offense very well."
Paxson, according to league sources, renewed discussions with Toronto for its No. 4 pick Thursday when he learned Marquette's Dwyane Wade would be picked by Miami at No. 5. Those discussions stalled when Toronto asked for Donyell Marshall.
Paxson admitted that Wade was the other player high on the Bulls' board.
Paxson also had discussions with an unknown team regarding Marcus Fizer and the No. 7 pick and admitted that not seeing Mickael Pietrus in person deterred the Bulls from drafting him.
These were clear attempts to acquire a veteran wing player, but nothing came close to getting done. Paxson then merely flip-flopped his order of business. He addressed the point guard situation through the draft and will try to acquire a wing player via free agency.
Team sources indicate the Bulls will pursue Juwan Howard and possibly Corey Maggette, both local products. Howard is an unrestricted free agent, while Maggette is restricted, meaning the Clippers can match any offer.
Free agency recruiting begins July 1.
By then, Hinrich should be close to signing his three-year, $7.05 million salary, set by the league's rookie wage scale.
"With Jay's injury, it put us back one year at that position," Paxson said. " Kirk is a winner. He's won at every level. He can play the game. I think he can come in and challenge for playing time. He will play well with our two young kids. He's a good post passer. He can hit the open jump shot. He can run the floor."
The addition of Hinrich throws into question the roles of Roger Mason Jr., Trenton Hassell and Fred Hoiberg, who is a free agent.
It also means Jalen Rose might be moved to small forward, where he will be taxed defensively.
"Is it possible? Yes," Cartwright said. "Is it likely? Probably not."
Eight days ago, nobody could've predicted the Bulls' need for Hinrich, even Hinrich.
"It's strange," Hinrich said. "Things change. I feel badly for Jay. Hopefully, he'll be able to get back on the court."