Kirk Hinrich sounds more excited than he did all of last season

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When Kirk Hinrich signed with the Bulls, he was seen as someone who could start point at point guard until Derrick Rose’s return then switch to combo guard or even shooting guard to complement Rose.

Hinrich completed the first part of that role last season, starting all 60 of his games at point guard as Rose missed the entire year.

Now that Rose is slated to be back, Hinrich must compete with Jimmy Butler for minutes after Butler’s emergence last season.

Not that Hinrich sounds bothered with his situation. Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago:

“It’s almost here,” he said by way of greeting. “You ready for it?”

Kirk Hinrich never sounded quite that upbeat last season and with the various ailments he endured, it was understandable. In his second tour of duty with the Bulls, the veteran guard missed 22 regular-season games and the entire second round of the playoffs as he suffered of litany of injuries, from hurting his groin in the preseason to the ruptured calf muscle that caused him to miss the Miami series.

But with the entire summer to recover from aches and pains that included injuries of the freakish variety, Hinrich, set to enter his 11th professional campaign, is amped up about the upcoming season.

“I feel really good. I think I’ve used the offseason to manage the time fairly well. I have a lot of energy, my body’s feeling good. I’ve been feeling good on the court, so at this point, you’re always looking forward to next year,” he told CSNChicago.com in a phone interview. “You start getting real anxious when you get to two, three weeks left to go before training camp.”

The Bulls have one of the strongest identities in the NBA. For better or worse, they play extremely hard throughout the regular season, even if that means they’re worn down in the playoffs. That’s why Hinrich wasn’t on the court as they lost to the Heat last season.

Hinrich is headed for a reduced role next season, but as long as he keeps such a positive attitude and plays to back it up, he’ll find minutes on a Tom Thibodeau team.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.

LeBron James beautifully pass-fakes, makes layup in transition (video)

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LeBron James is a treasure.

Shaquille O’Neal’s big toe is seriously jacked up (PHOTO)

shaq o'neal
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Remember how we we all freaked out when we saw pictures of LeBron James‘ feet back in 2013?

You probably didn’t want to be reminded that it existed, but it does. Still. And apparently jacked up feet is the consequence of a lifetime of playing professional basketball. Once can only assume it has something to do with tight shoes and constant, hard changes of direction in said tight shoes.

We got yet another vision of what basketball shoes can do to feet on Thursday when TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal showed off his, er, little piggies.

Much to the horror of the Internet in general, it was Shaq’s right big toe that took social media by storm. Mostly because it’s not even close to pointing in the right direction.

I’m going to show you what it looks like. Be forewarned, it might just be NSFL.

Via Twitter:

Oh. Oh … why?

Social media reacted appropriately and proportionately:

Shaq did have issues with that toe during the course of his career, and at one point it was so bad that he had to have surgery to remove bone spurs from the toe in 2002.

That still doesn’t explain why it’s all over your TV and the Internet, but here we are. I am sorry.