Hinrich had surgery in November and he is trying to beat his projected recovery time of three to four months. He said before Saturday night's game against Cleveland he will be with the Hawks on their road trip which begins Monday at Milwaukee.
"I hope I'll be playing sometime on this trip," he said.
Hinrich coming back will be interesting because the Hawks have managed very well in his absence. In fact one could easily say that because of Hinrich's injury the Hawks may actually be in a position to improve. This is because his injury against Orlando in last year's playoffs cleared the way for Jeff Teague to start and excel against Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, making it almost impossible to prevent his playing time coming into the season.
At one time, Hinrich's return might have meant the end of Jeff Teague's starting run, but that's extremely hard to picture that now that Teague has firmly established himself and his teammates have declared that Teague stepping forward is the only way the team will as well.
Getting Hinrich back means yet another solid piece in the rotation, presumably taking Willie Green's minutes, though Green's appearance late in games despite no discernible specific talent other than taking long jump shots might mean that Hinrich will actually take from both Green and Jannero Pargo due to Larry Drew's affection for certain players and how much that love dies hard.
It seems more than stomachable, especially compared to last year, to have potentially three players with the ability to move the ball within the framework of an offense in Pargo, Hinrich and Tracy McGrady all on that second unit together. Hinrich would also have to be considered a defensive upgrade over Green, depending on how completely he is healed when he gets back, further bolstering that unit's current efficiency.
We also mentioned in that recap that someone will likely walk the roster plank when the team does bring Hinrich back, but on further review that's not the case. Hinrich's return will only mean that someone on the team will be replacing Kirk's nightly seat on the inactive list, joining Al Horford. That person will likely be Donald Sloan, who is also the most likely candidate to get cut should the Hawks have to jettison a roster spot to get under the luxury tax by year end.
UPDATE: From the great Kris Willis, comes this from the post game discussion last night with Larry Drew:
Hinrich has missed all 17 games this season while recovering from off season surgery to his left shoulder. Hawks coach Larry Drew was asked about the possibility of Hinrich's return on the road trip following Saturday's game and was a little surprised by news.
"Is he?" Drew said laughing, "I sure hope so, I can't wait to see him with a Hawks uniform on again. I know he's been working out, he's been doing therapy and I do understand that he is close. That's good news to me.
What is your expectation of Hinrich's return, and what is your greatest concern?