Listen. Listen! Do you hear? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound when the six-fingered man slaughtered my father. Tom Ziller makes it now. Why? Because the Sacramento Kings are sending John Salmons and Brad Miller to the Bulls for Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden, Michael Ruffin and Cedric Simmons…otherwise known as “The Salary Dump Special.”
The Kings (despite Noc’s Argentina-sized contract) are saving millions in cap space and avoiding the dreaded luxury tax. (Fear it, mortal fools!) So what are the Bulls getting? Other than the final, shuddering death of all those pesky (though enticing) Amare Stoudemire/Chris Bosh trade rumors, that is. Well, in Miller (11.9 PPG, 8.0 RPG) the Bulls finally get a center who has actual offensive talent (even if he’s more than a little over the hill and way overpaid). He’s not much of a post player, but he’s a very good outside shooter (with three-point range even) and a great passer out of the high-post (and virtually everywhere else). Brad’s not so hot on the defensive end, but he has been known to bang people around and commit hard fouls (and, occasionally, flagrant ones). Athletically, he’s the NBA-equivalent of Stephen Hawking, but he makes up for it with effort, veteran savvy and pure hunkability.
Salmons (career-high 18.3 PPG, 41 percent three-point shooting) can swing between small forward and shooting guard, which should provide some added versatility. And, unlike Thabo Sefolosha, John can, like, score and stuff. Primarily, he’s a slasher who likes to drive hard and either attack the rim or pull up for short-range jumpers. He can also stick the triple and is a top-notch defensive player who can face off against PGs, SGs and SFs. Plus he can block shots, pilfer the rock, and he’s not afraid to take on elite perimeter players (Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Marko Jaric, etc.) It’s no secret the Bulls have needed a big, defensive guard for several seasons. (Ben Gordon…he’s so small!)
I’m not sure how the addition of Salmons is going to affect Ben Gordon’s spot in the rotation, but the trade (due to Miller’s bloated contract) will more than likely mean the end of the Kirk Hinrich Era, since the Bulls will need to jettison his contract to avoid the luxery tax (which could lend credence to the rumored Hinrich/Sefolosha for Brian Cardinal/Jarron Collins swap with the Minnesota Timberwolves). But all in all, I think Chicago came out on top in this one, in terms of talent. But then, the Kings weren’t going for talent, so…
Oh, and then there’s this little tidbit: “No matter what the Bulls do with [Larry] Hughes, they’ve set themselves up to be significant players in the summer of 2010, when the free agent class headed by LeBron James, Chicago native Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh comes up. By getting rid of Nocioni’s contract, the Bulls have less than $36 million committed to salaries for the 2010-11 season, and could add one or two top-shelf free agents to go with rookie point guard Derrick Rose, small forward Luol Deng and whichever of the bigs among Thomas and Noah are still around.”
So, to sum up: Nocioni’s salary was dumped; Gooden’s beard was set free; size and scoring were added to the frontcourt; defense, size and scoring were added to the backcourt and frontcourt (as SF anyway); and the stage was set for another potential deal or two this season and maybe a huge deal during the Summer of 2010. Stay tuned.
Parting shots: Andres Nocioni: “I’m not surprised. There have been a lot of rumors. I’m all right. I was waiting for this. But I don’t feel bad the way I’m leaving. It’s not like I did something wrong. I wasn’t playing my best this season. But I gave everything to this team. I played hard every day whether in practice or in games. I’m a competitive person and I leave this team the best way I could. The only thing I feel bad about is I’m leaving a good team, good players and good coaches. I really enjoyed being with the Bulls. But this is the NBA life. Things like this can happen.”
Drew Gooden: “I’ve been traded before and the way I look at it is it means somebody wants you. Sacramento has been interested in me for a couple years, so maybe something can work out long-term there. If not, I’m an unrestricted free agent this summer, so I’m auditioning for other teams. I enjoyed my time in Chicago. It’s a good bunch of guys and great management. They treat players with respect. I just wish we had won more and I had been healthier.”