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Bulls Make Big Trade Ahead of Deadline

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Feb 19, 2009 3:20PM

bulls_logo.jpg The NBA trade deadline is early afternoon on Thursday, and the Bulls were expected to be active. But the Bulls didn't land Amare Stoudemire, nor did they trade Larry Hughes -- yet. In their first deal, the Bulls sent Drew Gooden, Andres Nocioni, Michael Ruffin and Cedric Simmons to the Sacramento Kings in return for Brad Miller and John Salmons. There's a strong consensus that the Bulls were on the big winners of this trade, with the Kings looking to dump salary (the Maloofs lost millions to Bernie Madoff), and the Bulls gaining both help now and cap room down the road.

In landing Miller, the Bulls add a veteran big man who can score. While not the player he was a couple years ago, he'll still complement youngsters Tyrus Thomas and Joakin Noah down low. Longer term, his large contract expires after the '09-'10 season that has the strongest free agent class in years. Miller previously played for the Bulls from 2000-2002 before being traded to Indiana as part of the trade that brought Jalen Rose to the Bulls. Since his departure, he has twice made the All Star team.

John Salmons gives the Bulls a true wing player for the first time in years. Averaging 18.3 points/game this year for the Kings, he was their second leading scorer. Can he provide the same offensive burst for the Bulls? It depends if they can find enough minutes in the rotation for him.

That's one reason we don't expect this trade to be the only one pulled off by GM John Paxson prior to the deadline. A deal to send Kirk Hinrich to the Minnesota Timberwolves allegedly fell apart yesterday, as did a trade sending Larry Hughes to the New York Knicks for Malik Rose and Jerome James. We know that moving Hughes was Paxson's top priority, so we'll be surprised to see him remain with the team past this afternoon.

Although if Hughes remains, the Bulls will be in the enviable position in regards to cap room for the highly touted free agent class available after the 2010 season. They'd had $25 million in contracts coming off their books just as players like Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James can hit the free agent market.