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News » Hinrich will make the most of his role

Hinrich will make the most of his role

Hinrich will make the most of his roleWith Derrick Rose nursing an injury and John Salmons 4,000 miles away awaiting the birth of a child, Kirk Hinrich figures to start for the Bulls today when they meet the Utah Jazz in an exhibition game at the O2 Arena.

As for when that will happen again, who knows?

''Right now, they'll probably be bringing me off the bench,'' Hinrich said. ''John is just more of a natural two-guard. I'm more of a combo. I really don't care. I just want to play when it counts and help this team any way I can.''

Ask any member of the Bulls , and they'll tell you they need all the help they can get after losing leading scorer Ben Gordon, who signed a free-agent deal with Detroit. And for Hinrich, starting his seventh year in the NBA, it's a chance to re-emphasize his worth after he missed 31 games because of injury last season and underwent an awkward transition to the bench.

''There are opportunities there for me to have a great year,'' Hinrich said. ''I have put myself in a position. Hopefully, I can stay injury-free. That was just the tough thing about last year, missing all those games. Then at the end, not knowing where my opportunity was going to come. I feel I have the opportunity to have a good year.''

Coach Vinny Del Negro said the void left by Gordon won't be filled by one player. More will be demanded of Rose, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, along with a healthy-again Luol Deng.

''We have John Salmons, who is a really good one-on-one player,'' Hinrich said. ''There's Luol, obviously; Derrick Rose, Jannero Pargo, myself. Then you've got Tyrus [Thomas], Brad Miller. We have a really balanced attack. The key for us is to bring that energy every night and for us to perform on the defensive end.''

Thomas (hip) joined Rose (ankle and Achilles) on the sidelines at practice Monday and both may sit out today's game against the Jazz (1:30 p.m., NBA-TV).

While there have been no excursions on red double-decker buses, yard-of-ale drinking contests or trips to Big Ben, Deng has done what he can to give his teammates a flavor of his hometown. Deng was born in the Sudan, but grew up in London.

Deng took Hinrich, Miller, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jerome James to see his beloved Arsenal soccer team play the EPL rivals Blackburn Rovers on Sunday, converting all five to what the locals like to describe as ''The Beautiful Game.''

''On the way, they were wondering, 'What if it's 0-0?''' Deng said. ''But that didn't happen. It was 6-2. For them, for the first time to watch a football game, it was great.''

The NBA has leaned heavily on Deng's image to promote today's game, doing its best to elevate his standing through a series of promotional appearances in the city.

Deng, however, is more concerned about working his way back to his physical peak, and putting on a show for friends and family who will be among the expected sellout crowd of 18,000.

''There'll be about 100 or so coming,'' he said. ''It's exciting. I'm happy that we're here for the team and happy for the fans. There are a lot of Chicago Bulls fans here. And I'm happy for Basketball. It's great for London and the U.K., especially for the kids who love the game to see an NBA game in their city.''

Expect more NBA games, including a regular-season slate, outside North America as the league attempts to escape from the clutches of the U.S. economy and looks for additional revenue from overseas. Sophie Goldschmidt, NBA vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the London trip for the Bulls is an indelible part of the NBA's strategy.

''We continue to grow in the U.S., but we are more mature there,'' said Goldschmidt, who is based in the NBA's London office. ''We're just coming off one of our most successful seasons, so I think we still see the opportunity to grow. But international is where most growth is expected.''

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 7, 2009


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