WASHINGTON (AP) - Kirk Hinrich still remembers his surprise and dismay being traded to the Washington Wizards.
That was more than a month ago. Now he gets to help John Wall adjust to the NBA.
"Whenever you get the No. 1 pick and a guy has talented as John, you have the young cast around him, its a sense of rebuilding," Hinrich said Monday. "But I feel like we have the talent and if we play the right way and consistently play hard every night, I feel like we can surprise a lot of people."
Hinrich originally said he was a bit surprised when the Chicago Bulls dealt him in June to free up cap space for a free-agent class that included LeBron James.
While admitting that he has "maybe a little bit" of a chip on his shoulder following the deal, Hinrich emphasized his enthusiasm over the new start.
"I'm very appreciative of my time in Chicago, they gave me an opportunity to first of all become a pro player and then grow as one." Hinrich said. "I was in Chicago for so long and I appreciate my opportunity, but I'm excited to go to a new organization. It's like almost coming into the league again. I'm very motivated and excited to play great basketball."
Hinrich , who averaged 13.4 points and 5.8 assists for the Bulls since being drafted seventh overall in 2003, from a playoff team to one that won 26 games.
"The direction we are trying to go _ obviously we are building _ but when you build you also need some veterans, some leaders, players that have been through the wars before," Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld said. "Kirk is definitely one of those players. He's been a winner his whole career in college and in the pros. ... We expect him to provide a lot of leadership on our team."
In Chicago, Hinrich played alongside and mentored Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, who, like Wall, was the first player selected when he entered the league in 2008.
"I really feel like I got too much credit. He was very good." Hinrich said. "I think most of it was by example. That's the way I lead. I became more vocal as I get to know my teammates better and I've gotten older. I'm just excited to have a chance to play with John. He's a very athletic and talented young kid and I'm just excited to play with him."
The Wizards currently have eight players on the roster 25 years old or younger, including four rookies.
Gilbert Arenas, who was suspended for 50 games last season for bringing guns to the locker room, will also return.
That leaves the Wizards with three players who are primarily point guards. though Grunfeld emphasized that Hinrich is a "very, very versatile player."
"I probably feel more comfortable playing the one, its a little easier," Hinrich said. "But I feel I am very capable of playing both positions and starting in training camp, that's going to be a challenge, trying to figure exactly where I fit in and what I can do to help this team."