DEERFIELD, Ill.—Seemingly a magnet for injuries last season, Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich is on the mend after suffering a concussion in last Friday’s home win over the Pacers.
But as has been the case with the veteran reserve, it’s not just one ailment he’s recovering from simultaneously, as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau revealed that Hinrich also suffered a previously unreported shoulder injury in the fourth quarter of the same contest. Still, the coach believes Hinrich’s condition is improving.
“He actually shot well, moved at a game speed, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow, as well,” Thibodeau said of Hinrich after Thursday afternoon’s practice at the Berto Center, though he also noted that the guard hasn’t taken contact yet and would have to first be cleared by the Bulls’ medical staff before returning the floor. “He’s been cleared from the concussion, so that part’s good. He has a little soreness that he’s got to get past.”
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Hinrich himself downplayed the shoulder injury.
“I took a shot in the shoulder blade as well. It’s been giving me some trouble doing basketball activities,” he explained. “I’ve been feeling much better, though. I’m starting to feel more confident. I’m glad the concussion thing is hopefully behind me. I’m just taking it day-by-day.”
While Thibodeau didn’t sound overly optimistic about Hinrich returning to the lineup for the Bulls’ final preseason game, Friday night against the Denver Nuggets at the United Center, the backup guard said it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
“I’m hoping so,” said Hinrich, who has missed the Bulls’ last two exhibition affairs. “I would love to get another game under my belt. It’s getting close to go time. I want to be as ready as I can.”
In the meantime, he’s focused on his conditioning in preparation for an eventual return. “Just trying to stay on top of it, have been doing extra stuff and hopefully it will be as good as it can be,” he said.
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Hinrich also discussed the concussion, which occurred when the back of his head hit the knee of Bulls rookie Erik Murphy in the Indiana game.
“It’s kind of hard to explain. I was just kind of out of it,” he said. “Everything was kind of a blur. I was spinning and had headaches.”
Even a hard-nosed type like Thibodeau is grateful for the NBA’s concussion protocol, which prioritizes player safety.
“There’s a number of different things and it goes by stages, so you’re basically shut down after it’s been determined that you have the concussion. Then, they gradually increase your workload to see how you feel. So if you become light-headed, things of that nature, you basically have to start the process over again. It’s good,” Thibodeau said of the league’s testing process, which is required before players return to the floor after suffering a concussion. “Your team doctor’s involved with it, the trainer obviously. So there’s a number of things and they’re hard to analyze, but you want to make sure you’re following the protocol.”