When Kirk Hinrich was traded to Atlanta last season, he was supposed to add experience and toughness to a team that didn’t always exhibit those qualities. He was supposed to stabilize the backcourt, give the team a legit point guard and buy more time for Jeff Teague to develop. Hinrich did all of those things, and was one of the reasons the Hawks surprisingly killed the Magic in the first round.
After starting his career in Chicago, he had the chance to face them in the second round, but a hamstring injury ended his season. Since then, he’s been rehabbing nonstop to get back to 100%, and this week I caught up with him to talk about that, the terrible way last season ended and Atlanta’s future.
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Dime: It’s your hamstring right that you hurt in the playoffs? How is it doing?
Kirk Hinrich: Yeah, I’m just trying to follow the steps to make sure that I’m gonna be able to put this behind me.
Dime: Okay. With an injury like this, is it mostly rest or is it more strengthening and flexibility that will help it heal?
KH: Well really, all of it. I’ve just kinda focused on…obviously something was off-balance in my body to make my hamstring tear. I’m just trying to focus on that, and make sure I take all the steps to make sure it heals right and at the same time, make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Dime: How hard was it to miss the Chicago series going up against your old team?
KH: Man honestly, it was about as tough an ending to a season that I’ve ever had. Getting traded to Atlanta and then having the opportunity to play in the second round, not being able to go out there and play and not being able to help the team, it was definitely tough to swallow.
Dime: You guys played well at the beginning of the series but faded as it went along. Why do you think that happened?
KH: You know we played them tough. We felt confident going into the series. We felt we were a very dangerous team going against anybody with the talent that we had. If we played to our strengths, I definitely felt like we had a shot at the Eastern Conference. There were a couple of games in the series where we just didn’t show up. We just didn’t play playoff basketball. Chicago is a very consistent team; they were consistent all year. Obviously, they had the MVP and all that. We are disappointed, but at the same time we are looking forward to next year and trying to take that next step because you know the Hawks have been to the second round three straight years and right now we are just trying to focus on what we gotta do to make that next step.
Dime: With the emergence of Jeff Teague, do you think you guys will play together in the backcourt more next year?
KH: Yeah. I think the organization is excited about Jeff hopefully to make the next step to being more confident and much more a part of the rotation. I think he’s a very talented player and he’s definitely going to help us. I don’t know how it’s going to work exactly, but we are going to figure it out because he can definitely be a big, big part of what we are doing next year.
Dime: For you, does it matter whether you play the one or the two? It seems like you swing back and forth…
KH: It really doesn’t matter. I’m more comfortable playing the one; it’s a little bit harder playing the two. I guess I have the ability to do that, and am willing to do whatever. I just want to be on the court.
Dime: You mentioned the Hawks getting to the second round. What do you think is the biggest thing that needs to be done in order to take that next step?
KH: I’m just excited to be there for the start of training camp this year. Getting thrown into the mix in the middle-to-late February when we are trying to make a push for the playoffs, you are just trying to fit in and pick things up as you go. To be there for the full training camp, I think we can definitely get started off on the right foot. I’m excited. I think we need to be more consistent; in the past, we’ve been a team where things were going really good for us or really bad. We just need to add some toughness, some shooting, and have that mentality to keep our eyes on the prize all year. Our goal is to make that next step. I’m excited for the challenge of it.