You had to see the look on Kirk Hinrich's face when he met reporters before Saturday's Bulls-Cavs game. Shock? Disbelief? It really was sad, a kid who found nothing on Christmas morning, the end of Home Alone where the old man saves the kid. Right, not significant on an international level, but you want to wipe your eyes.
"I was going home last night thinking maybe a couple days," said Kirk Hinrich, who'll be out perhaps three months or more with thumb surgery scheduled for Tuesday after getting in the win over the Suns Friday. "I was shocked when I found out I tore a ligament and I'm looking at a significant amount of time. I've never had to sit out a length of time. I've never had surgery. I'm in shock. I'm trying to wrap my mind around what happened. In my opinion, it's a silly injury. It's my thumb.
"There's no relief," said a head shaking Hinrich when it was mentioned he should be back sometime this season. I'm just frustrated. I worked hard in the offseason. I'm trying to figure out how long 12 weeks will be and what I'm going to do for that long."
More so, the Bulls have to figure out what they'll do without their primary (and really only) point guard backup to rookie Derrick Rose, one of their true veterans.
"We're going to have some makeshift lineups the next couple of nights," said general manager John Paxson. "The good news is we think Larry (Hughes, out with a shoulder injury) will be back here shortly. We're expecting some practice time this week. He just has to gain some confidence in contact with his shoulder. I feel badly for Kirk. It's not a fun thing for a player. Kirk loves to play and compete. So I feel badly he'll be out an extended period of time. But it's part of what it's all about. Sometimes, you have to deal with an injury. And this one will keep him out for awhile.
"We're going to be real careful because we're looking at the tax number," Paxson said about whether the Bulls will add another player to replace Hinrich and the Bulls close to the luxury tax ceiling they won't exceed. "We've already talked about some things. I'll sit down tomorrow and look at the available people out there and then how it works with us and the tax line. We do have some depth. These things when they happen, it means an opportunity for somebody. We'll figure over the next day or two if we want to make a move. My big concern is that we don't have a true backup point guard now with Kirk out. Ben and Larry can handle the ball. But that's where it gets a little dicey. We know Derrick is going to play those 35-42 minutes a night. It's those other minutes you get concerned about."
The Bulls had guard Darius Washington in preseason, but teams that bring in minor league type players rarely use them anyway, so it's more likely the Bulls would just use Ben Gordon or Thabo Sefolosha in the occasional ball handling role.
"Ben will be out there playing some point and Thabo," said coach Vinny Del Negro. Obviously, Derrick will run the show. It's in the process (using Luol Deng at shooting guard some). It depends on matchups and how we feel we can be effective. Losing Kirk there are more minutes there. We'll try to get Larry back as fast as we can and be smart about that. If we can get Luol at the big guard spot once in awhile, maybe we'll do that."
And so Saturday, the Bulls started Gordon with Rose in the backcourt with Deng and Tyrus Thomas at forward and Aaron Gray at center and Joakim Noah first off the bench. Drew Gooden, who sustained an ankle injury in Friday's game, also couldn't play Saturday, but is listed as day to day and could play Tuesday against Atlanta.
Which, by the way, is missing Josh Smith, out himself perhaps a month with a sprained ankle.
Yes, stuff happens in the NBA.
Hinrich says his occurred in the third quarter Friday as he tried to take the ball from Amare Stoudemire.
"I swiped down to try to take the ball from Stoudemire," Hinrich related. "It felt like I hyperextended it. I came off shaking my hand. It was hurting. But I didn't think too much of it. But it started swelling up on me so I told the trainers and they looked at it. I was going home last night thinking maybe a couple days. I was shocked when I found out I tore a ligament and I'm looking at a significant amount of time."
Maybe even into March.
"When you talk about 12 weeks, you're taking it up to the All-Star break," noted Paxson. "In my mind, it's probably going to be after the All-Star break until Kirk is available. And that's a lot of games between now and then. That's a tough one for us to digest. The thing for him now is Kirk is antsy. He'll have the surgery and when he's out of the cast, he'll have to rehab it the right way. Those things can be tough to rehab. In talking to Brian Cole our doctor, he wants to be cautious as to predicting when. Anytime you have a hand injury, the mobility and flexibility you need to get back."
And, even worse, it's the right hand and thumb, which guides the shot.
So as reporters went into the locker room to obtain player reaction after Paxson and Hinrich, Gordon was sitting at his stall with an ice pack on his lip.
"I broke a bone in my lip," Gordon quipped.
Nah, he just got a fat lip from some flying Stoudemire elbows Friday night.
But you have to laugh because you could cry.
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