Milwaukee–Kirk Hinrich says he will practice tomorrow in San Antonio. If all goes well, he plans to play Wednesday at the Spurs.
“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s just a matter of how sore it will be the next day [after practice].”
Once Hinrich is activated, the Hawks will have to make a roster move. The candidates to be released are Ivan Johnson, Donald Sloan, Jannero Pargo and Jerry Stackhouse. Chances are it won’t be Ivan so probably one of the guards will go.
Larry Drew said the plan is to “work [Hinrich] back in slow” as he gets his wind back and becomes accustomed to banging around again. And . . . (drum roll) Hinrich will come off the bench and Jeff Teague will remain the starting point guard.
“At this point, I am going to stay with that I have,” Drew said. “Jeff has shown that he deserves it. He has done a really good job for us. As of right now, I am just going to keep it as is.”
Now I know some of my blog people are going to seize on “as of right now” and cite it as proof of a conspiracy in which Drew will reduce Teague’s role even if he’s playing well. There was a similar uproar when Drew said way back when that he hadn’t decided if Hinrich would start when he returned. (Personally, I thought Drew sidestepped that question because he didn’t want to say Hinrich would be a reserve until he had to, not because he wanted to trap door Teague.)
When Teague had a couple bad games around the time of Drew’s comments, some fans connected the dots. For what it’s worth, I don’t know that Teague even saw Drew’s comments. I will let you in on a secret and tell you these guys tend not to read
anything everything I write. Yeah, I know: I can’t believe it, either. How could they not eat this stuff up?
But if Teague did see Drew’s comments and that’s the reason he suddenly got passive, are you cool with that? Are we now to the point where each time Teague has a bad game, it’s Drew’s fault because he didn’t say enough nice things about him? Do you think because Teague got a raw deal in the past, he should get a pass any poor performances now?
I understand the anxiety among fans because of the history of Hawks point guards in general and specifically Drew’s mystifying reluctance to give Teague a larger role last season. I know there is still bitterness among my blog people that Teague only really got his chance because Hinrich went down, and so you are sensitive to any sign that Drew might send Teague back to the end of the rotation.
But now don’t go the completely the other way and say Teague is beyond reproach and Drew should make a point of praising him or go out of his way to avoid criticizing him. Teague is a pro. He has to earn his keep, which he’s doing quite nicely. He doesn’t need to be coddled.
Now, having said that, Teague does often cite the confidence he got from coaches and teammates as key to his break out against the Bulls last spring and his strong start this season. He also said he delivered against Chicago because there were no other options. It was all on him.
So, with that in mind, is Drew concerned that Teague may start looking over his shoulder once Hinrich is available?
“I don’t worry about it,” Drew said. “Maybe that is something I need to talk to him about. But that shouldn’t be a concern. We are all trying to have a common goal and that is the success of this team. I don’t think you should be concerned about your teammate. If you are going to be concerned, be concerned about the guy you are going against, you know what I’m saying? That makes more sense.
“Both guys are going to be playing substantial minutes. Whether one starts or one doesn’t, that shouldn’t be a real concern. Whether you are a starter or come off the bench your role doesn’t change at that position. Both guys have to run the club.”
Drew said he also would consider eventually using a lineup with Hinrich at shooting guard and Joe Johnson at small forward.
“I am going to look at all my possibilities,” he said. “But for right now I am going to stick with what works.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat