Chicago Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich told ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell that he expects to return from a back injury on Christmas Day against the Brooklyn Nets. Coach Tom Thibodeau also sounded optimistic that Hinrich and forward Jimmy Butler will play Wednesday after the two went through practice on Monday, Friedell reports.
Hinrich, who is averaging 8.6 points and 5.2 assists per game, has missed the last five games because of a stiff back, and Chicago has relied heavily upon backup and recent midseason signee D.J. Augustin to carry the load. The Bulls lost four straight after losing Hinrich but rebounded on Saturday with a 100-84 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers thanks to Augustin's 18 points and 10 assists in 46 minutes played.
With Thibodeau's apprehension in handing the reins to second-year guard Marquis Teague, Hinrich's return to the starting lineup will push Augustin to the backup role.
Butler sprained his ankle Thursday in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder and didn't play against the Cavs. He is averaging 11.1 points per game, but in his absence, rookie swingman Tony Snell put in one of his best all-around performances of the year, scoring 17 points and hitting five three-pointers.