DEERFIELD, Ill.—After missing the last five games with a back ailment, Kirk Hinrich is on the mend and according to the veteran guard, he will be back in the lineup for the Bulls’ Christmas Day game in Brooklyn, barring any setbacks.
“Doing better,” Hinrich said of his health, following the Bulls’ practice Monday at the Berto Center. “Today was big for me to get my legs underneath me a little bit and get a little bit of timing and rhythm. But yeah, I’m definitely excited to be back. As long as I don’t get hurt walking to the car or getting off the couch or anything like that, I plan on playing.”
Hinrich, the last player off the court after extensive shooting drills, explained exactly what’s been troubling his back since the Bulls’ Dec. 13 buzzer-beating win in Milwaukee.
“Yeah, it was spasms just from I think wear and tear. I’ve been seeing the chiropractor a lot, doing everything I can to get it lined up and everything loosened up where I can move and play,” he said. “I was hoping it wouldn’t take this long. But I’m happy that it’s finally better.”
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau seemed encouraged by the progress of both Hinrich and starting shooting guard Jimmy Butler, who also practiced Monday after missing Saturday’s home win over Cleveland with a sprained right ankle, suffered in the first half of Thursday’s loss in Oklahoma City.
“They were able to practice and are feeling a lot better,” Thibodeau said. “I want to see how they feel tomorrow. Both of them did everything, the contact, so it was good.”
Luol Deng, however, didn’t participate in Monday’s practice. The All-Star small forward is still recovering from a reoccurrence of his left Achilles’ injury, which caused him to miss the Bulls’ last two games after returning to action following a four-game absence after originally suffering the injury.
“Just another day. We’ll see if he’s any better tomorrow. He’s improving but still not comfortable enough,” Thibodeau said of Deng, who said after the Thunder game that he was targeting a return on Christmas against the Nets, though Wednesday could now be less of a possibility. “I go day by day. I don’t look a week down the road or whatever. You never know. Sometimes a guy can feel a lot better that night. That’s the way I look at it. Get your treatment, come in twice a day, see the trainers, do everything they’re asking you to do. That’s your responsibility. You do that and you can’t go, then you can’t go. I think you owe that to the team.”