NEW ORLEANS -- Chicago Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich will start Tuesday night against the New Orleans Hornets after missing the past three weeks because of an infection in his elbow. The Bulls, who were 2-5 in Hinrich's absence, are excited to have him back on the floor.
"He's a very important part of the team," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said before Tuesday's shootaround. "He plays to his strengths, he covers up his weaknesses, he runs the team very efficiently. It's important, but we need everybody. And we knew going into the season that we were short-handed and we were going to have to do this collectively. We got to get our level of intensity back up to where it needs to be."
Hinrich, who has battled numerous injuries this season, had to have a surgical procedure to clear out the wound. Thibodeau doesn't think it will take long for the veteran point guard to find his stride again.
"Because it was the elbow he was able to do a lot of conditioning and running almost immediately after they cleaned it out," Thibodeau said. "So I think his conditioning is good. And then he spent a lot of time over the break shooting and stuff like that so I think he's ready to go."
Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is still not ready to go as he continues his rehab from a torn left ACL. Thibodeau reiterated that Rose will play whenever he is ready.
"Whenever he's ready, he's ready," Thibodeau said. "It's still going to be he's doing all the things we want him to do, he's got to feel comfortable, and when he's ready to go, he'll go."