Hinrich feels better, optimistic about opener

Kirk Hinrich has never had to deal with a groin injury before, but he's optimistic about Wednesday. David Sherman/Getty Images

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Kirk Hinrich, who has been limited over the past week because of a strained right groin, is feeling better and is hopeful he will play in Wednesday night's regular-season opener against the Sacramento Kings.

"(I feel) much better," Hinrich said after going through all of Monday's practice. "I was able to participate in practice today and I was pretty pleased about it. As of right now, if I don't have any setbacks (Tuesday) or anything, I plan on playing."

Hinrich originally strained the groin last Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He sat out Friday night's game against the Indiana Pacers in South Bend because of the injury. He also missed a game earlier in the preseason because of a thumb injury. Despite the health concerns, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau sounds confident his veteran point guard will be out there.

"He was fine," Thibodeau said. "A little bit better today. Practice went well so we'll see where we are (Tuesday).

"It's always encouraging when you have your whole team practice. If he practices and (Tuesday) he's fine, then he plays. We're just taking it day by day. So he's a lot better today than he was (Sunday)."

Hinrich, who signed with the Bulls over the summer, has missed 28 games over the past two seasons because of various injuries. He is trying to be cautious with the groin injury because he hasn't dealt with one before in his career.

"It's something I've never really had before," he said. "But I'm just happy with the improvement and I just felt it was important for me today to get out there and get some reps and try to test it as much as I could."

Hinrich is entering into his tenth season and is clearly excited about being back with the Bulls. He was drafted by the team in 2003 and admits that he will have some extra jitters Wednesday night at the United Center.

"There's going to be probably a lot of adrenaline," he said. "I'm very excited. I feel like we've had a pretty decent preseason, but Wednesday is the real thing and I'm just excited to get it going."