Kirk Hinrich, who missed Saturday’s loss to the Raptors with a back ailment, is a game-time decision for Monday night’s home game against the Magic, according to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.
“He’s feeling a little better, but he didn’t do anything this morning, so we’ll see where he is tonight,” the coach said after the Bulls’ morning shootaround at the United Center.
Thibodeau wouldn’t reveal who would start in Hinrich’s place if the veteran floor general can’t play, but the likely suspects are second-year point guard Marquis Teague and recent acquisition D.J. Augustin, who split the minutes at the position against Toronto.
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“Some good, some bad,” Thibodeau said of the pair’s play. “D.J. was limited because he had a very small package to work with, and that sort of got us away from some of the things we were doing with the second group. So I think we’re a little bit more comfortable now with that. Marquis, I thought his defense was very good and I thought he attacked the basket well, so he’s got to build off of that.”
Augustin, who was waived by Toronto in the wake of last week’s Rudy Gay trade, is getting up to speed, Thibodeau said.
“Well, he’s getting there. He’s a lot better than he was the other night. He’s had a few days now to work and get comfortable. He was concentrating so much on what he was doing that he wasn’t really with the aggressiveness that we want him to play with, so hopefully that will come,” Thibodeau said of the sixth-year veteran, who had the best years of his NBA career with the Bobcats, the team that drafted him. “I thought he did a very good job there [in Charlotte]. I thought he was very aggressive in pick-and-rolls. I thought he had great intensity to his defense. So I think the fact that he’s already had some success as a starter in this league, it tells you he’s capable. He hasn’t played a lot this year. I thought he played well for Indiana in the playoffs last year, so we have a lot of confidence in his ability.”
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As for Teague, Thibodeau believes the 20-year-old, who was assigned to the Bulls’ D-League affiliate in Iowa and recalled the same day, is gradually making progress.
"At that particular time, it wasn’t a demotion because of his play. We saw it as an opportunity for him to go and play 40 minutes for a couple games. That’s the way we were looking at it and we felt that, ‘Okay, we’re going to get a look at somebody else and we’ll let him get some playing time down there,’ but we always felt—we had talked about it before we did it—that we could call him back in a day. It wasn’t like he was going to another country, where we couldn’t get him back. We could get him back immediately. We knew that, that’s why we did it. We just thought it made the most sense at that particular time,” Thibodeau said of the situation. “I think he will improve his shooting, and I think a big part of shooting is confidence and concentration. He has improved and I think as he continues to grow, it’ll get better and better.”
The coach tacitly admitted, however, that neither player has the command of the offense that Hinrich possesses.
“Well, the challenge is your point guard has to run the team and it’s probably one of the things that gets overlooked with Kirk,” Thibodeau explained. “People tend to judge him with shooting percentage—and in the end, he’s always going to shoot 38 or 39 percent from three—but it’s how he runs the team and when he’s running the team, I know Carlos is going to have 15 to 17 shots, Lu is going to have 15 to 17 shots, our two-guard is going to be the same with Jimmy in there.”