DEERFIELD, Ill. — While Bulls' All-Star center missed the majority of the preseason due to the team's caution with his strained-groin injury, for veteran reserve Kirk Hinrich, his absence after the squad's exhibition win over Indiana at the United Center was more out of necessity.
Hinrich suffered a concussion in the home victory and it was later revealed that he also injured his shoulder on the same play. But the guard was able to fully practice Sunday at the Berto Center and is optimistic about playing in the Bulls' regular-season opener Tuesday in Miami.
"I'm feeling good. I participated in practice and I was pretty happy with it," Hinrich said. "I was able to get this practice under my belt, have practice tomorrow and I should be good to go."
Hinrich, who said his shoulder is fine, also noted that he's gone through all of the NBA's concussion-protocol tests and expects to suit up against the defending-champion Heat.
"That's what I'm planning on doing. Today was kind of a pre-test for it. It was long, a tough practice. I think I handled it pretty well," he said. "There's been a lot of anticipation building up to this season and we're excited. We felt like we had a good preseason. We're going to keep trying to get better every day. We've felt like we've done a good job of taking it one day at a time, one step at a time and we're going to continue to try to do that. Obviously we're playing the defending champs on opening night, so it's a privilege to be able to do that and we're excited for it."
While Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed that Hinrich was able to take contact Sunday, he indicate that the veteran's health status may have influenced the organization's decision to keep 38-year-old point guard Mike James rather than waived big men Dexter Pittman and D.J. White for the team's 13th roster spot.
"It wasn't an easy decision. Dexter and D.J. did a great job and they're NBA players. Mike did a great job. We would've liked to have kept all three. In the end, we just felt Mike's experience and Kirk banged up right now, that's why we made that decision," he explained. "As I mentioned the other night, we would've liked to keep all of them. They all did a great job. Just basically where we were. We don't know with Kirk if he's hurt or if he'll be able to play. It was a tough decision but at the end of the day that's what we felt was best for the team.
There's always some flexibility there. We'll see how it goes," Thibodeau continued. "The thing about Kirk is we can play him at the two. It gives us an opportunity to play multiple pick-and-roll players. We also had an opportunity to look at Murphy and Taj together and also Luol at the four. We felt we had some flexibility there."