Trade Grade: Thumbs up

thumbs up

So here’s a quick recap of the Bulls’ flurry of last-minute trade movement: John Salmons, Brad Miller, Tim Thomas, Jerome James and Anthony Roberson are in. (Although the last two in name only. They won’t play. Assuming they’re even alive. Can we get any confirmation on that?) The Bulls will also receive a conditional first round draft pick from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Meanwhile, Andres Nocioni, Thabo Sefolosha, Larry Hughes, Cedric Simmons and Michael Ruffin are out. (Did I mention we got rid of Larry Hughes? Because we got rid of Larry Hughes. He’s gone. Hopefully forever. I cannot stress this enough.)

Are the Bulls a better team today? Yes.

Look, Rome wasn’t built in a day. In fact, that McDonald’s down the street? It wasn’t built in a day, either. This wasn’t a dramatic “Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the Celtics” uber-makeover. (And how often do those even happen — let alone work out — anyway?) No, we didn’t bring in a superstar. Or even a regular star, for that matter. What John Paxson did was address a few of the team’s glaring needs while clearing future cap space for a strong run at a bonafide superduperstar in the [insert dramatic music here] Summer of 2010. That’s win-win, right?

We needed more size up front, some interior defense and a center who can score. We got all that. Miller is hardly a defensive wiz, but he’s at least got the bulk and veteran wiles to body up to opposing big men. He’s not much of a post player, but he can shoot and pass as well as or better than most centers. And he seems genuinely psyched up about returning for a second stint with the Bulls. Said Miller: “I’m pretty happy. It’s a good opportunity in terms they’re right on the borderline of the playoffs. Kind of the same situation Mike (Bibby) went into last year. You go to a team like that where they’ve been kind of like ehh, whatever, a little bit of change like that and get into the playoffs and get some excitement back. I love Chicago as a city so that’s a bit of a bonus for me.”

Miller’s not a long-term answer. But he’s a decent stop-gap. Especially if he’s motivated, and it seems like he is. He also said: “Winning is what matters at this stage of my career.” And after next season, he’s a $12 million expiring contract.

Meanwhile, Salmons can score from both the shooting guard and small forward positions. More importantly, though, he’s tall and strong enough to defend the big, athletic guards who have been menacing the Bulls so often over the last few years. See, that’s been Ben Gordon’s biggest drawback. Yes, he’s valuable for his scoring and streak shooting. But he’s also an Achilles’ heel — or, as I like to call it, a Walton’s foot — on defense. A fifth grader could post him up. It’s not that he doesn’t try, but he’s just undersized at his position. The Bulls have needed a somebody to fill that defensive role. Thabo Sefolosha was supposed to be that guy. But his defense was never better than so-so, and his offense made most Bulls fans want to punch themselves into unconsciousness. Salmons can defend and score. And he’s actually pretty good at both.

The only thing that makes me nervous is that Salmons gets grumpy when he’s not getting shots. And his comments about the trade have been pretty lukewarm so far. So we’ll see.

But, like I said, the Bulls might not have vaulted from lottery team to championship contender. But they should be good enough to make a solid playoff run, and John Paxson has put the team in the financial position to potentially get much better in the next couple years. I’ll take it.

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9 Responses to Trade Grade: Thumbs up

    BadDave February 20, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    C’mon Miller. Time for Contract Year Phenomenon!

    Peter Clayton A. Smith February 20, 2009 at 2:47 pm #

    The more I look at the sum of these trades, the more I am positive the Bulls are positioning themselves to make a run at Chris Bosh not at the trade deadline next year, but right before the draft this summer. I assume Bosh will let the Raptors know he is not going to re-sign with them, and then they will decide when they are going to trade him. He would have the most value this summer, and his value decreases until a sign and trade can happen.

    So my guess here is that the Raptors may try to move him this summer when they can get the most value. The Bulls can give them everything they would theoretically desire in a trade for Bosh: expiring contracts (Miller, Tim Thomas, Jerome James), young “talent” (Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah), draft picks (their number 1 this season and / or the number 1 from OKC this year, future picks).

    A trade that I am pretty sure would work that would give Toronto all of the above could be:

    Bulls send:
    – Brad Miller
    – Jerome James’ contract
    – Tyrus Thomas
    – One or both of the 2009 number ones

    Raptors send:
    – Chris Bosh
    – Jason Kapono

    Sure, the Bulls have to take on Kapono’s contract that ends in 2011, but they can give the Raptors a ton of savings after 2010.

    Toronto won’t get any more than fifty cents on the dollar for Bosh, but I think Paxson is positioning the Bulls to get that second star in this manner, and if it doesn’t work, he will just use the cap room to get him in a straight out signing.

    Matt McHale February 20, 2009 at 7:20 pm #

    BadDave — Seriously.

    Peter Clayton A. Smith — A million things could happen between now and then, but that’s certainly one possibility. I also wouldn’t discount the possibility that the Bulls would make a go at D-Wade in free agency. He’s a Chicago guy, and he always makes a big deal about how much he loves the city. A backcourt of Rose and Wade would be, well, wow. Particularly if Tyrus and Joakim can develop into, you know, anything at all.

    Regardless, Pax has put our team into a great position to go after Bosh or Wade — and I believe those would be the top targets — either via trade or free agency. Plus he made us a little bit better right now. The more I think about it, the better all these deals look to me.

    AK Dave February 20, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    For the first time in a while, I think the bulls are going to be fun to watch, the way they were back in ’06.

    And Brad Miller is a good enough center and all, but I’m still sad that Mike Sweetney couldn’t get his weight under control. Remember how awesome he was against the Heat in the Playoffs in ’06 playing against Shaq and Mourning? The guy was so smooth, such a skilled player with awesome hands and a soft touch around the basket, but alas, he couldn’t control his weight and now I don’t even know where he is. What a shame.

    Anyway, here’s hoping that the Bulls make the playoffs and the Pistons don’t!

    Loop February 21, 2009 at 1:50 am #

    Matt –

    I didn’t watch the game against the Bucks, but I’m watching the Nuggets game now, and I have a VERY important question:

    Did Joakim Noah spend his All-Star break tanning in the center of the sun?

    SPF 45 my man. Yeesh.

    Matt McHale February 21, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    AK Dave — You know, Sweetney was another of those Oliver Miller/Glen Davis types that always make you think, “Damn, if this guy could get in shape and play consistently, he’d be AWESOME.” As it is…well…yeah.

    Loop — Maybe Joakim think that being darker will make him stronger and more athletic?

  7. JR February 22, 2009 at 4:25 am #

    Re: D Wade and D Rose, I actually don’t think they would be that great together, they are very similar players who dominate the ball. For it to work they’d need to set up like Ginobli and Parker, with one a bench spark. Don’t get me wrong you could do way worse but when was the last time a team with pg and sg as their two best players won a championship? Spurs are the closest but how good would they be without Duncan, which is how the Bulls would look?

    Neither of them are real spot up long range threats, so thats one less player to worry about when either of them drives. Neither are specialist defenders. I prefer the tried and tested route of having a superstar guard and a fill the gaps guard with complimentary skills. Rondo slasher, Allen long range. Kobe slasher, Fisher long range. Nash, Bell. etc etc

  8. JR February 22, 2009 at 4:32 am #

    Actually when was the last time? 80’s Pistons had Dumars and Thomas, don’t remember heaps about those two I was very young. Pippen at least was a wing player I guess.


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