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NBA Free Agency Rumors 2012: Chicago Bulls Have Made Kirk Hinrich Their Top Free Agent Target

The Chicago Bulls were forced to trade guard Kirk Hinrich before entering free agency in the summer of 2010 to ensure they had enough salary cap space to afford two max-level free agents. It might be difficult to remember now, but the Bulls were briefly considered the front-runners for James' services, and also would eventually offer max level deals to his current teammates Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

You know how that turned out. Now, with Hinrich available on the free agent market, the team is apparently dedicated to reacquiring the veteran guard.

Tribune reporter K.C. Johnson and the Daily Herald's Mike McGraw each reported Hinrich has become Chicago's top priority. With as many as eight teams interested, the Bulls may need to offer their entire exception, $3 million per season, to get into the running.

As we've maintained for weeks, the team should just pick up the $3.2 million option on C.J. Watson. Watson had plantar fasciitis surgery on both feet after the Bulls' playoff exit, so he should be better than the banged up player we saw throughout last season. Particularly if signing Hinrich will require a multi-year deal, Watson's option undeniably gives the team more flexibility.

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It's tough to see how Hinrich is an upgrade over Watson. The esteemed 'Captain Kirk' finished last season with a PER of just 9.28, which barely makes him worth an NBA contract. Hinrich averaged a career-low 6.6 points per game on 41 percent shooting. He finished with 2.8 assists per game and as a 34 percent shooter from three-point range. He's older than Watson (31 to 28), and he also isn't already familiar with coach Tom Thibodeau's system. I suppose Hinrich could also play the shooting guard spot, but Waston still seems like a far better fit. What are the Bulls missing here?

Hinrich's other suitors are said to include Lakers, Jazz and Celtics.

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