Goodbye, John Salmons: Bulls 115, Knicks 109

Brad Miller auditions for the New York Lyric Opera

Brad Miller auditions for the New York Lyric Opera

Last year, the Bulls turned their season around by acquiring Brad Miller and John Salmons from the Sacramento Kings. This year, Chicago is sending Salmons to the Milwaukee Bucks for Kurt Thomas and Francisco Elson. I’m sorry, make that the expiring contracts of Kurt Thomas and Francisco Elson. That distinction is pretty important.

Update! This trade may change so that the Bulls end up with Hakim Warrick and Joe Alexander instead of Thomas and Elson. Which doesn’t change all that much from Chicago’s perspective. They’re just different expiring contracts.

This trade wasn’t pushed through to make the Bulls a better team. Not right now, anyway. But it will clear almost $6 million worth of salary off Chicago’s books for next season. That means the Bulls will be about $20 million under the cap for the already legendary Summer of 2010.

Of course, Cleveland’s move for Antawn Jamison should put to rest any thoughts in Chicago — or New York, or anywhere else outside of Cleveland — of landing LeBron James. However, Amar’e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson and others are all theoretically still in play. Of course, John Paxson and Gar Forman will have plenty of competition from the Clippers, Heat, Knicks, Nets and Wizards…all of whom will have the same kind of wheelin’, dealin’ cash.

In the meantime, the Bulls are a little worse.

Don’t get me wrong. Salmons hasn’t had a great season by any stretch of the imagination. But he’s still the team’s second-best three-point shooter and its third-leading scorer. Make that was. I guess it’s time for Devin Brown and Jannero Pargo to step up.

Said Derrick Rose: “Man, that’s crazy thinking about John leaving. He just came here [in a trade with the Kings on Feb. 18, 2009]. But, it’s the NBA. If he does get traded we’ll definitely miss him, but [the season] must continue. … It hurts your team a little bit. Like when you have a game right after [a trade]. But that’s just how the NBA goes.”

Added coach Vinny Del Negro: “It’s never easy. It’s never fun. We’re dealing with good character people. It’s part of the business. You just have to deal with it, and move forward.”

It’s part of the business. That about sums it up. That doesn’t make it feel any less awkward, though.

And how awkward must it have been for Salmons before last night’s game against the Knicks? Del Negro got a call before the game telling him to leave Salmons at the team’s hotel. Not a very nice way to say goodbye.

But, yeah, it’s just business.

That left the Bulls — who are still without Joakim Noah (plantar faciitis) — two men down for the second game of their home-and-home series with the Knicks. Fortunately, the Knicks are still the Knicks. And they have so many irons in the trading fire that they probably had some focus problems of their own.

Nate Robinson, who was rumored to be on his way to Boston, missed the game with “flu-like symptoms.” Jared Jeffries, who was supposed to be involed in a trade for Tracy McGrady that is now off the table, played only six minutes after hyperextending his right knee.

But hey, with or without those two guys, it’s not like the Knicks play defense.

Still, New York sprinted out to a 64-53 lead at the half and went up 74-60 when Al Harrington drilled a three-pointer with 8:33 left in the third quarter. But believe it or not, the Bulls were saved from a blowout by an offensive explosion from Brad Miller. Miller — who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds — scored 13 huge points in the third, and he did it in a variety of ways.

Miller started things off by nailing a trey, which meant his defender (David Lee) now had to respect his jumper. If you know anything about Big Brad, you know what that led to: an up fake followed by slow, loping, but ridiculously effective drives to the basket…and one. Miller than went to a rare post up and executed an up-and-under for another three-point play. After that came another up-fake-and-drive that Miller finished off with a running eight-footer. In between all that, he grabbed an offensive rebound, got fouled and hit both free throws.

After that running jumper, Miller grabbed a defensive rebound on the other end and threw a full-court pass to Kirk Hinrich for a layup that pulled the Bulls to within 78-74 with 5:43 left in the third, forcing Mike D’Antoni to call a timeout. But the damage had been done.

Chicago pulled to within two points by the end of the quarter and you could tell the players were stocked. Everybody wanted in on the action. Pargo opened the fourth quarter by canning a three-pointer. James Johnson drove in for a layup. Miller hit an 18-footer. Tyrus Thomas knocked down a couple buckets. Hinrich drove in for a layup. Deng earned (and hit) a couple foul shots. Rose swooped in for a layup. Miller hit another three. Deng connected from 19 feet. Rose got another layup. Deng got a layup. And so on.

All Mike D’Antoni — sorry, make that Mike ‘Antoni — could do was call timeouts and pray the Bulls would stop hitting shots. You can’t start teaching defensive right before the trade deadline. Chicago ended up outscoring the New York 33-25 in the fourth quarter. Game, set, match.

Seriously, just a dreadful defensive game for the Knicks. The Bulls hit 27 shots at the rim and scored 70 points in the paint. On the road. I sure hope anybody who played for the “bloodbath” Knicks teams of the 1990s weren’t watching this game. It would have been enough to drive them to drink.

I should also mention that Derrick Rose was huge. He finished with a co-game-high 27 points (10-for-19) and helped out Miller by scoring six points in a 12-2 third-quarter run. He also had 6 assists. It’s hard to believe the kid is dealing with a bruised hip and a sore back. I guess sometimes playing the Knicks is the best prescription for a player’s aches and pains.

Timeout Tally:
1st timeout: Thomas missed a layup
2nd timeout: The Knicks had free throws coming
3rd timeout: New York had free throws coming again
4th timeout: Deng got fouled (2-for-2)
5th timeout: Hinrich hit a jumper
6th timeout: The Knicks were forced to foul

Quick trade thoughts:
As of right now, it looks like the Bulls are finished making trades, which will probably leave their fans either yawning or feeling a little disappointed. I’m guessing people wanted management to either seal a deal to free up even more cap room for next summer or pull of a trade that would — how shall I put this? — actually benefit the 2009-10 Chicago Bulls.

Again, as of right now, not gonna happen.

Fiscal responsibility and future planning are the co-names of the game. Especially with the Bulls one game over .500 (27-26). Maybe if Chicago hadn’t been able to recover from that 10-17 start, disappointment might have forced a more aggressive approach. But if management knows this team can play .500-ish basketball and compete for a playoff spot, they probably figure they won’t have to face a fan revolt this season…which makes pinning all their hopes on next season that much easier.

On a personal level, I’m bummed about the Salmons trade. I like the guy, and I hope he succeeds in Milwaukee. I’m also mildly put off that the Bulls couldn’t swing something that could benefit them in the short term as well as the long term.

But hey, it’s just part of the business, right?

Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot Chart, Photos.

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25 Responses to Goodbye, John Salmons: Bulls 115, Knicks 109

    Torch02 February 18, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    There are rumors floating around that it is actually Salmons for Joe Alexander & Hakim Warrick. Both are still expiring, but would likely contribute on the court moreso than Elson/Thomas. Does that change your view of the trade?

    thirdsaint February 18, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    According to reports the deal still isn’t sealed and we could possibly get Warrick and Joe Alexander. Not exactly fantastic players but surely better than Thomas and the other dude that’s somehow in his 30’s and I never heard of before. I hate to see Salmons go too only for a couple reasons. 1. Now we are REALLY weak at the 3-point area when that was already our biggest weakness and 2. We have to see more of Pargo and Brown. :-/

    I’m still hoping the Bulls will swing a deal to get rid of Tyrus and if it’s for Harrington that would actually help us out this year and in the summer.

    Also, at half time I told my dad there’s no way the Knicks keep up their hot shooting. They were hitting everything and sure enough they kept shooting and crashed back down to Earth. If it weren’t the Knicks we would’ve lost last night and even then this is the type of game we were losing earlier in the season. Looking at the schedule we need to win 5 of the next 6 and it’s very doable.

    Mike February 18, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    Cool stats from hoopdata: Bulls had 45 attempts at rim (second most all season) and only 17 attempts from 16-23 ft (fewest all season), 9 of which came from deng.

    Also, as of this morning it sounds like Hakim Warrick and Joe alexander were the players being shipped to the bulls (per Chad Ford of I guess that’s a little better than thomas and elson.

    Definitely the worst part about trading Salmons is that we no longer have a guy who plays with his jersey untucked.

    thirdsaint February 18, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    Yeah, I’m hearing it’s them two as well now. Warrick would replace Tyrus if we get rid of him. They just need to spin him to the Knicks for Harrington once NY knows whether or not they have T-Mac. If we can do that I’d say we’d be in better shape since Al can hit the 3 decently and we are in better shape cap-wise for the summer.

    bullsfandom February 18, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    To Matt:

    I get it. You don’t think Lebron is coming here.

    Thank you,


    chad February 18, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    harrington 32% 3 point shooter, not good enough. bulls need to forget about 3 pointers. only shoot them when wide open, otherwise just drive to the basket, cause bulls suck at 3 pointers. worry more about not letting other teams be wide open for 3 pointers.

    Matt McHale February 18, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    “1.There are rumors floating around that it is actually Salmons for Joe Alexander & Hakim Warrick. Both are still expiring, but would likely contribute on the court moreso than Elson/Thomas. Does that change your view of the trade?”

    Only mildly. They will provide spot help at best. Here’s a quick scouting report on Warrick: Long and athletic…excellent leaper…a dunk waiting to happen…good shot blocker…perimeter game needs work…too skinny.

    Sound familiar?

    Obviously, it’s not a long-term situation, and Hakim could certainly help out until Joakim gets back. And who knows? Maybe this will be his time to shine. But I’m not banking on it.

    “To Matt: I get it. You don’t think Lebron is coming here. Thank you.”

    I swear I’m not trying to beat a dead horse, only pointing out that things are dynamic, and the Jamison deal is another nail in the LeBron coffin. Whereas if the Cavs don’t land Jamison, maybe that leave a little extra doubt as to what James will do.

    chad February 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm #


    RB February 18, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    I wanted Kevin Martin to the bulls for Hinrich. Trade one of our two point guards for one of their two shooting guards, we each have what the other needs it’s a win-win. Salaries were equal too but now we’ll never know thanks to the stupid rockets

    thirdsaint February 18, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    Chad, this is true. I was frustrated in the first half last night and the 4th quarter at how often the Bulls left them open despite them knocking them down. Harrington may not be great at them but he can hit them. I just hope that if the Bulls do get him they can get him to cooperate more.

    As for Warrick, he is a lot like Tyrus but doesn’t have the baggage. If we let Tyrus go and get Warrick then we have a player in a new situation who won’t scream at the coach. If he doesn’t shoot too many jumpers then he’d be a nigh improvement from Tyrus.

    And I didn’t realize we were concerned about getting LeBron anyways? I never heard his name tied in with Chicago. It was always New York, New Jersey, or elsewhere. Wade and especially Bosh are the ones that have always been tied to Chicago.

    Greg February 18, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    Warrick, a lot like Tyrus without the baggage???

    They are similar offensive players, but defensively there is no comparison. Warrick is a horrible defender (and @ Matt – not a good shot blocker). Over career he averages .3 blocks a game. For a frame of reference that’s the same # as Kirk.

    By that logic, Pargo is basically the same guy as Ben.

    chad February 18, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

    this season is over, watch the bobcats will finish with a better record than the bulls. bulls will get no good free agents and sign another ben wallace and wish they still had tyrus

    chad February 18, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    a protected future 1st round draft pick, what’s the point. better chance tyrus coulda woke up and helped them win more games this year and win playoff games, than the draft pick becoming anything good

    thirdsaint February 18, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    The season is far from over but if you mean we aren’t going to win it all then I’d have to tell you ‘welcome to October 2009’. These moves are all about the summer and I still think we can put up a fight in the playoffs. We have Rose and he will be the difference along with Noah between this summer’s FA and ones in the past when we had no stars.

    chad February 18, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    i know why tyrus played last night even though the bulls were about to trade him. it’s because they need tyrus to win the game! wish tyrus got hurt yesterday so he couldn’t be traded instead of getting hurt earlier in the season leaving the bulls with only 29 games this season to evaluate him and his progress. i will laugh when tyrus and charlotte beats the bulls the last game of the season and ends up with a better record than the bulls.

    bullsfandom February 18, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    Chad – Tyrus was done here even if he woke up and started kicking butt. His one game suspension is all the proof anybody needs that he was never going to get along with the coaching staff and he got traded because the front office was tired of his shenanigans.

    Matt – You know I’m just busting your basketballs right? Part of me is sick of the classic Chicago cynicism (“Whoa is us, we wont get any good FA/our owners are cheap/our GMs are incompitent/we will never win/etc.)

    Maybe its my fandom speaking but I think this is the best opportunity, by far, for any Free Agent out there. So why wouldn’t the best Free Agent want to come to the best situation in one of the best city’s/market’s in the nation?

    bleigh February 18, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

    I’m not entirely sure why acquiring Jamison means Lebron is staying in Cleveland no matter what. Let’s say the Cavs don’t win the title again this year, which can certainly happen…Lebron will stay because he’s been paired with a 33 year old forward? Why wouldn’t he continue to explore his options?

    Mattfs37 February 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

    Looks like Salmons will be going for the expiring contracts of Warrick and Joe alexander, which is a better deal for the bulls this season. Also looks like tyrus is headed to charlotte for acie law and flip murray. What that probably means for the bulls this season is that warrick is asked to step into tyrus’s minutes, and flip murray and James Johnson share Salmons role. So the Bulls team next year, if all goes well and we can sign two major free agents looks like:

    C Noah
    PF: Free Agent, options include Bosh, David Lee, Carlos Boozer, Al Harrington, Amare
    SF: Deng
    SG: Free Agent, longshot Wade, more realistic Joe Johnson, maybe Ray allen in the short term if the Bulls strike out on Johnson
    PG: Rose

    Kirk backing up rose
    Taj as first big off the bench
    James Johnson hopefully progresses into rotation player
    1st round pick, hopefully a wing who can play the 2 or 3…James Anderson of OK State perhaps
    4th big through free agency…brad miller back at a discount?
    players 11-12… 2nd round pick and somebody off the street?

    Mattfs37 February 18, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    edit:4th big/ player 11 potentially gotten through protected first rounder from charlotte?

    Max February 18, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    John “Never saw a shot he didn’t like” Salmons will not be missed by me.

    Bam! February 18, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

    I must say, Fish Man will be missed in the short term do to his jumpshot assets, but I think if we trade Tyrus, we will be missing Ty even more than Salmons. But I would still get rid of him if it meant us getting juicy FA like Bosh and another moist man to help fill in the team.

  22. letsgobulls_24 February 20, 2010 at 1:33 am #

    “a protected future 1st round draft pick, what’s the point. better chance tyrus coulda woke up and helped them win more games this year and win playoff games, than the draft pick becoming anything good”

    chad, chad, chad… sometimes I strongly agree with your posts, and sometimes I wonder, ‘what is this guy talking about?’

    In case anyone needs a reminder: Taj Gibson, one of the most consistent players on the Bulls roster despite being a rookie, was picked 26th in the 2009 draft.


    It’s completely possible that the Bulls select another quality player in the 2010 draft. I hated to see Tyrus go as much as the next guy, but the trade with Charlotte was a very good one.

  23. letsgobulls_24 February 20, 2010 at 1:37 am #

    and chad, you may end up being right- the bulls could very well get beat out of the playoffs by the bobcats.

    but here’s the kicker- we now have around $20 million to spend this summer and we are going to crush most of the league for the next few years..

    so put that in your pipe and smoke it :)

    I hope we get Bosh!!


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