Source: Kirk Hinrich to join Bulls

Updated: July 8, 2012, 8:27 PM ET
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com

LAS VEGAS -- Free-agent point guard Kirk Hinrich has verbally agreed to a two-year contract with the Chicago Bulls, according to a league source.

Hinrich, who was selected by the Bulls in the first round of the 2003 draft, gives them the type of combo guard they were searching for this offseason. While he can't officially sign until Wednesday's moratorium, the deal is believed to be in the range of around $3 million per year.

The Chicago Tribune had earlier reported the deal.

Hinrich, who was traded by the Bulls to the Washington Wizards two summers ago in order to clear cap space for free agents, maintains a home in the Chicagoland area and admitted he was surprised he was dealt the following season. His return to Chicago will be a welcome one for teammates who enjoyed his presence both on the floor and in the locker room.

"Kirk is a phenomenal player," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said Friday, after Day 1 of Team USA training where Gibson is a member of the national select team. "I played with Kirk my rookie year. He was phenomenal in helping me grow as a player. He was a phenomenal leader. He was one of those tough-minded players that doesn't really care about much (besides) getting wins, and it would be great to have Kirky back on our team.

"But at the same time you've got to look at the aspect of it's the NBA, it's a business as a whole and I hope they can get it done because I know Kirk is a great player and it would help our team out a lot, especially right now in this season without Derrick (Rose)."

Although he did not confirm the deal, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau also praised Hinrich.

"He's an experienced guy," Thibodeau said. "He's played very well for all the teams that he's been with and he brings a lot in terms of veteran experience."

While the Bulls still may add another guard, Hinrich has a solid chance of coming into training camp as the starter with Rose out. The Bulls also drafted point guard Marquis Teague, who is just 19, with their first-round selection last month.

Rose, who is recovering from ACL surgery, isn't expected to return until January, at the earliest.

The Bulls must now decide if they want to match the three-year offer sheet that the Houston Rockets gave Omer Asik last week. The deal, which is expected to be around $25 million, including almost a $15 million cap hit in the final year, would be tough for the Bulls to swallow. But Bulls general manager Gar Forman repeatedly has stated that he would like to keep Asik. He will have three days to decide whether to match starting Wednesday.

What Hinrich's arrival means in the short term is that the Bulls probably will decline to match C.J. Watson's team option for $3.2 million. Watson was ineffective in the postseason and struggled with injuries down the stretch after playing solidly in place of Rose for much of the year.

The Bulls also must decide whether to bring back Kyle Korver or Ronnie Brewer. Both players have contracts that are not fully guaranteed. Korver, a veteran sharpshooter, is the safer bet to return, but his status remains in flux as the Bulls figure out exactly how the numbers get crunched.

Depending on the corresponding roster moves, the Bulls likely will have to fill the rest of their roster out with small-salaried players. However, Forman mentioned on draft night that the Bulls would be making basketball decisions this summer, not financial ones.

No matter what the organization decides to do, what's clear is that the Bulls will be in the luxury tax this year as they continue to fill out their roster and try to contend without Rose for much of the season.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.