Is Aaron Gray just the first Bull to be traded?


Jan 25

I caught up with Aaron Gray Monday afternoon on his last day with the Bulls. He seemed happy.

“It will be a great thing,” said Gray.

Not that he was mad at the Bulls, but the third year center believes he’ll get a better chance to play now that he’s headed to the New Orleans Hornets for shooting guard Devin Brown.

The teams Monday afternoon agreed to the trade, somewhat minor, yes, but perhaps the first to come for the Bulls.

As I’ve noted before, GMs around the league say the Bulls have been active in feeling out teams on various trade scenarios and player availabilities in recent weeks and I’d expect something larger to break before the deadline, much like last season in the big deals for John Salmons and Brad Miller.

For now, it’s a nice tweak for the Bulls to add Brown, a hard nosed 6-5 shooting guard averaging 9.7 points and shooting about 37 percent on threes.

Bulls fans should remember him well as he blitzed the Bulls with 20 first half points, mostly on threes, when the teams played in late December. The Bulls play the Hornets to conclude this trip Friday, and both players should be available in their new uniforms.

The Hornets felt they had to move Brown after trying to trade him for Jason Hart in a salary dumping move to Minnesota recently to help get under the luxury tax. The Hornets later moved Hilton Armstrong. Last year, they tried to trade Tyson Chandler and had that trade rescinded and then traded Chandler for Emeka Okafor. It remained too uncomfortable to keep Brown around.

But it’s a good addition for the Bulls. Perhaps not for Jannero Pargo, who probably falls a bit farther down in the rotation with the addition of another shooting guard. Though it could also open the way for a larger trade involving someone like Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons as the Bulls still need to add an expiring contract by the trading deadline to be able to offer a free agent a maximum contract this summer.

Brown, 31, is a classic NBA journeyman. He is finishing up his second tour with the Hornets and also has played for the Spurs, Nuggets, Jazz and Cavs. He is in his eighth season after being undrafted out of the U. of Texas/San Antonio.

He first played in the USBL and D-League. He was rookie of the year in both and D-League MVP for the Fayetteville Patriots in 2003. His biggest NBA season was 2006-07 when the Hornets were in Oklahoma City and he averaged 11.6 with 49 starts. His career scoring average is 7.3 on 40 percent shooting and 34 per cent on threes.

His minutes have been decreasing of late. But he had a career high 30 points with five threes in a win in Utah earlier this month and back in November 25 points and five threes in a win over the Clippers.

Gray had rarely played for the Bulls this season, just 50 minutes in mostly blowout wins or losses as coach Vinny Del Negro was never comfortable with him. But he’s not a salary dump for the Hornets as they save only about $100,000 on the deal and look to Gray to help their inside depth. Both players are on one-year deals expiring after this season.

The Bulls had some preliminary talks last month with Denver about Gray. But it didn’t involve a player for the Bulls and nothing ever was close.

But this was the kind of deal the Bulls had in mind when they decided not to keep players from their training camp, like Derrick Byars. The Bulls wanted to have some wiggle room money under the luxury tax to be able to facilitate a deal, and they could for Brown, who is a higher quality NBA player than, say, Byars.

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