1. Kirk Hinrich is much better defensively than Mike Bibby and will be more than a swinging gate versus Rajon Rondo or Jameer Nelson or Derrick Rose come the playoffs.
2. Hinrich might be better able to play alongside Jamal Crawford than Bibby was. But I’m not sure Hinrich will play as well in tandem with Joe Johnson, who’s not easy to complement.
3. When the Hawks traded for Bibby in February 2008, he was 29 and had started nearly every NBA game since leaving college. Hinrich is 30 and hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2008. (Granted, it was Hinrich’s misfortune to have been on teams that drafted two point guards — Rose and John Wall — No. 1 overall.)
4. Hinrich’s career three-point percentage is .379. So is Bibby’s. Hinrich has averaged 5.7 assists per game. So has Bibby.
5. Hinrich is under contract through 2012, which gives the Hawks a year’s cover if/when Crawford leaves as a free agent.
6. Hinrich makes more money — $9 million to Bibby’s $5.5 million this season, $8 million to Bibby’s $6.2 million next — so we can’t accuse the Hawks of taking the cheaper way this time. But it’s unclear whether this trade pushes the Hawks above the luxury-tax threshold, which is always a concern with the Atlanta Spirit. (And you’ll note that the Hawks currently have only 14 players on their roster; the NBA allows 15.)
7. As much as fans had soured on Bibby, he remained hugely respected by teammates. Josh Smith told me earlier this season that Bibby set the best screens of any Hawk — try finding another point guard who fits that description — and he was utterly unafraid to take the big shot.
8. The Hawks had better win now because they punted away much of their future. They traded two No. 1 picks — Jordan Crawford and this year’s first choice — for Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong. That’s a lot to spend for a 30-year-old point guard who has never been an All-Star and who hasn’t been starting at the position he’ll be asked to play.
9. Given the draft record of Rick Sund and Dave Pendergraft, not having a No. 1 pick this year might not be so damaging. In two years they’ve landed Jeff Teague, who has disappointed two head coaches, and Jordan Crawford, who scored 67 points as a Hawk.
10. There’s little time for assimilation. Of the Hawks’ remaining 25 games, 15 will come against teams that currently hold winning records. (Heck, 12 of the next 15 will be against opponents above .500.) The Hawks are fifth in the East, a game and a half behind Orlando and four games ahead of the Knicks. It would be surprising if that position changes before the playoffs commence. Which would mean: Kirk Hinrich would indeed get his chance to chase Jameer Nelson in Round 1.
Oh, and one thing more: According to esteemed former colleague Michael Lee, now of the Washington Post, Bibby was so upset by the trade that he is considering buying out his own contract. (In the NBA, this is known as going the Zydrunas Ilgauskas route.) Lee reports, however, that such a tack might not be feasible for Bibby.
By Mark Bradley