Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/12/12

The Chicago Bulls knew they wouldn't be able to make a big splash in free agency this summer, so they brought back an old favorite.

The first player to agree to terms in July was veteran guard Kirk Hinrich, who spent seven seasons with the Bulls from 2003-10. He was traded to the Washington Wizards in what amounted to a salary dump so the Bulls would have enough money to pursue LeBron James and a second major free agent in the summer of 2010.

The Wizards traded Hinrich to the Atlanta Hawks midway through the 2010-11 season, and the bad luck began. A hamstring injury during the playoffs knocked him out of a second-round series against the Bulls. Then he had surgery that summer to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

So while Hinrich's stats from last season (6.6 points, .414 field-goal percentage) seem disappointing, he also missed 18 games while recovering from major surgery. After a full offseason, the hope is he'll play more like his old self.

The Bulls could offer free agents no more than the taxpayer mid-level exception of $3 million. Hinrich's deal is believed to be worth $6 million over two years. Now all they can do is sign as many players as they want for the league's minimum salary.

Hinrich was appealing to the Bulls because he can play both guard positions and is a strong defender. He's still the franchise's all-time leader in 3-point baskets. Hinrich kept his residence in the Chicago suburbs, so he'll be able to live in his house year-round.

Filling out the roster will be a challenge. Several teams still had cap room to spend as of July 11, when signings could become official.

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