This is the fourth in a series of profiles focusing on this year’s free-agent class.
Player: Kirk Hinrich, point guard
Most recent team: Atlanta Hawks
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: The Lakers’ biggest weaknesses in the backcourt were outside shooting and defense. The Lakers shot 32.6% from three-point range, which ranked 25th in the league. Even if the Lakers occasionally featured a strong outside shooting night from Kobe Bryant, Ramon Sessions, Steve Blake, Metta World Peace or Matt Barnes, none hit from long range on a consistent basis. Meanwhile, the Lakers rarely could stop top-flight point guards, whether it was with Derek Fisher, Sessions or Blake.
Hinrich would immediately help in those two areas. He’s shot 37.9% from three-point range during his nine-year career. Hinrich would make teams pay when they double-team Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. And Hinrich brings a defensive intensity that suits Coach Mike Brown’s system. The Lakers shouldn’t pursue Hinrich as Sessions’ possible replacement. Instead, the Lakers should view him as a backup combo guard who can ease Bryant’s minutes at shooting guard and give the Lakers another decent player to run the point.
Negatives: After posting career-highs in the 2006-07 season in points (16.6), field-goal percentage (44.8%) and three-point shooting (41.5%), his production has fluctuated. Hinrich hit rock bottom last season when he averaged only 6.6 points on 41.4% shooting and a 34.6% mark from three-point range as well as a 9.25 player-efficiency rating.
Would it really be worth the risk for the Lakers to possibly cough up their mini mid-level exception worth $3 million just to see Hinrich go on another cold spell? The Lakers thought they made a steal last season by signing sharpshooter Jason Kapono to the veteran’s minimum, but he shot only 38.2% from the field and 29.6% from three-point range.
Verdict: The Chicago Tribune reported that the Bulls will pursue Hinrich, though they won’t offer him the full mid-level exception. Hinrich has also told reporters he wouldn’t accept any offer for the veteran’s minimum. Because of these considerations, the Lakers shouldn’t get their hopes up. He’s worth it for the mini mid-level. But by no means should the Lakers make any trades to secure Hinrich’s services.