Salmons pushing Bucks ahead in the East


Apr 6

By Adam Fluck

Tuesday marked the first time that the Bulls and Bucks hooked up following the three-player deal between the organizations on Feb. 18. On that day, Chicago sent John Salmons to Milwaukee in exchange for Hakim Warrick and Joe Alexander.

While the Bulls have struggled with injuries these last few months and are fighting for a postseason spot, the arrival of Salmons has helped the Bucks to an impressive 18-6 mark since the trade. They currently have the sixth-best record in the East, largely thanks to Salmons and their post-trade deadline surge.

Over that span, Salmons is averaging a team-high 20.0 points to go with 3.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He has led or tied for the team lead in scoring in 12 of those games and scored in double-figures in 22 of the 24.

“He’s playing like he did for us when he got here last year,” said Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro. “John played very well for us, he’s a really good guy, and had a great impact on the team here. They lost Michael Redd and he stepped in there. John is a good player. He’s been very productive there, just like he was here. He’s helped them like he helped us; that’s what good players do.”

Del Negro cited the switch from small forward, which Salmons primarily played with the Bulls last season in Luol Deng’s absence, to shooting guard as one factor in why he struggled a bit in Chicago to start the year.

Salmons has tallied 12 games with 20 points or more since joining Milwaukee, including 20-plus performances in nine of his last 13 games. The eighth-year NBA veteran is shooting 46.3 percent with the Bucks, including 38.9 percent from long range.

“I’m trying to make this a regular game,” said Salmons on Tuesday about his return to Chicago. “I don’t need any extra motivation.”

Salmons was originally drafted by the San Antonio Spurs with the 26th selection out of Miami (Florida) in the 2002 NBA Draft and traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he spent the first four years of his career. He was then signed as a free agent with Sacramento prior to the 2006-07 campaign and played two-plus seasons for the Kings before being traded to Chicago last February.

“I think when you come to a team, you always want it to work out,” said Salmons when asked if he wanted to stay in Chicago long-term. “You never want to be traded or something like that. You want it work out wherever you’re at. When I came here, I wanted it to work out for the long run, but it just didn’t happen.”

As for his adjustment to Milwaukee, Salmons said he received a voicemail from EVP-Basketball Operations John Paxson letting him know what to expect out of Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles.

“He told me I’d enjoy playing for Coach Skiles and he was one of the best coaches he’s been around,” said Salmons. “For a guy who has been around some good coaches to say something like that, it’s a good complement.”

Audio—Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro on the status of James Johnson, facing the Bucks without Andrew Bogut, and Salmons’ impact in Milwaukee (04.06.10):

What do you think? Leave a comment below: