Very weird to see the Bulls pull off an acquisition that I was clamoring for to the point of annoyance. Not that I want the Bulls to read anything here (outside of entertainment, of course) but it's neat that our motivations seem to be in sync: make the team better for a playoff run by helping out Thomas and Noah in the frontcourt.
[Obviously a better way to go was the Amare deal, which is nearly impossible at this point with Gooden's expiring deal now gone. But that situation looks to be dead entirely due to the Suns, and especially as someone who wasn't willing to throw every non-Rose combination in the mix, I cannot complain about 'missing out'.]
Giving Thomas and Noah room and help was supposed to be a benefit of the Wallace deal, but while Drew Gooden was a capable offensive player and seemingly good teammate, he was also clearly playing for a contract given his shot selection (and frequency), and played a position that took more minutes away from Thomas/Noah. And with Nocioni being only effective as a PF (and even that was a stretch this season), it's huge that both players will be going out with only one player, a center, in Brad Miller coming in: a player who can stand behind (if not completely defend) the bigger opponents in the league, play the high pick/pop with Rose, and pass out of the high post (hello Luol Deng). If committing to Thomas and Noah, the Bulls needed a frontcourt complements who could play outside on offense, and clog the middle on defense. Brad Miller can do both. Strictly by production he's not much different than Gooden, but he'll be a much better fit.
[And in a much much much less important way, I'll like Miller's redass attitude. He was sort of checked out in Sacramento this year, but I expect a return to a playoff race (a sad one, but still) and the Midwest could at least get him caring again...and he was never the type of player to be intimidated (nor overmatched in size) on the court, something the Bulls need, especially in the frontcourt.]
And while Miller's deal goes into next season and this overall deal does not save much 2010 free-agency money (after a trade kicker, Salmons will be making roughly the same in 2010 as Noc), it makes sense to swap Gooden's expiring deal for a 2010 one, because even if they let Gooden walk after this year, somebody had to be signed in the frontcourt for next season. This way it's Brad Miller for one-year instead of having to re-sign Gooden or some other FA to a multi-year deal. And Miller can now also serve as a big expiring deal for the pre-2010 trading season, not forcing the Bulls to hold on to Larry Hughes merely for that sake.
And Salmons' 2010 figure is actually a player option. It's not inconceivable that he opts out of that deal for a long-term one: at age 30 and after a couple good prime seasons (maybe, more on that later), he could take the opportunity to get a long-term deal that summer instead of playing one more season at less than $7m. This is in contrast to Nocioni's 2010 and 2011 guaranteed salary, with production and mobility trending to the point where he'll barely belong in the league by the end of that deal (not that we can't remember the good times). And judging by the rumor mill, Salmons seems more easy to be flipped in a future deal than Noc would have been.
Not as sure how Salmons helps (as much) immediately on the court, especially since lots of talk from Sacramento was that he was not happy (nor productive) being a bench player. Ideally he'll be taking the role of Thabo, Noc (when he played wing), and Hughes as a backup wing. And that's an upgrade. And while he has horrific adjusted +/- numbers suggesting his defense isn't as good as his rep (and I could use some anecdotal observational analysis of his defense in the first place), it's important that Salmons won't be playing in the PF spot with horrific defense like Nocioni was. As far as Salmons' offense, I really think this is a fluke season. At 29, after 6 seasons of being a 33% shooter from the arc, he's now hitting almost 42%? Again, good for right now if he keeps it up, but I don't believe he's a real 'piece' (like Sam Smith thinks).
And the big problem with bringing in Salmons is that he's yet another addition to the fabled guard glut, being a 2/3 wing player alongside the aformentioned Sefolosha and Hughes as well as Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon. It's both a roster glut as well as a salary glut, as this trade does dramatically increase the Bulls 2009 payroll, not sparing much room under the tax for when Gordon is an unrestricted free agent.
And not just because of that payroll situation looming over their head, but also because it puts all these players' minutes at the mercy of Vinny Del Negro, some more moves should be made before Thursday afternoon's deadline. And not just having Larry Hughes sent home. Lots more shuffling can be done between Hughes, Thabo (why even pay him $2.75m next season with Salmons on the roster?) and Hinrich to both move some 2009 money as well as free up minutes on the roster (as in, be willing to take back guys who can't play).
Salmons can still be kept as Ben Gordon leverage/insurance (and I think a more practical one than Hinrich, making less money and being a more natural wing scorer), but they don't have to actively push Gordon out the door by not being able to make a competitive offer after taking away his minutes the last few months of the season.
And shockingly, with talk of Hinrich+Thabo being sent to Minnesota for expirings, or the various reported Hughes dump jobs scenarios, the Bulls look to be doing more shuffling to alleviate this very issue.
I'm not sure who's running the show (the consensus seems to be calling it the amalgam: 'Gar Paxdorf') , but I like what they're doing.