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Monday, April 5, 2010
Salmons' success no surprise to Bulls

By Nick Friedell

John Salmons
John Salmons has fit in well with coach Scott Skiles' system with the Milwaukee Bucks.
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Most people still can't believe how well John Salmons has played since leaving the Chicago Bulls.

Don't count some of his former teammates among them.

No matter who you asked on Monday afternoon, nobody seemed surprised that Salmons has had such a huge resurgence since being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in mid-February.

"John's a good player," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "John's playing like when we got him last year. He gave us a huge boost. And Brad [Miller]. That's what happens. John went there, they lost Michael Redd so John just kind of fit right into all the play sets that they had. John's a good player. So, [his success] doesn't surprise me."

Salmons, who was always one of the most polite players on the team, will probably get a warm reception from his former teammates and coaches on Tuesday night when the Bucks come back to town.

"He's a good guy," Del Negro said. "He played hard for us. He played well for us. Obviously, in our situation, we had to do that [trade] to clear some [salary cap] space."

In the end, that is really how this Salmons deal, which netted the Bulls' Hakim Warrick and Joe Alexander, will be defined. With his contract off the books, they have the ability to land a top-tier free agent this summer. If they do that, no one around Chicago will care how many big games Salmons puts up over the next few weeks and months.

Still, Salmons' consistency [he's scored at least 18 points in all but seven of his games since being traded to Milwaukee on Feb. 18] may have some Bulls fans wondering why he couldn't have done that more when he was in town.

"John's a helluva player," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "I probably shared the best moments of my career with him, playing in the playoff series with Boston. I think things just didn't work out as well as we all wanted it to go with him. But I think he's in a situation where he's happy in Milwaukee. The system works out well for him. With [Andrew] Bogut demanding the attention that he deserves. [Brandon] Jennings with the way he plays the pick and roll. It's just a good fit for him."

Luol Deng echoed those same sentiments.

"John is a good player," Deng said. "The Milwaukee system fits him real well. And he seems to be doing a good job. He's always been a hard worker. This year with us, he kind of struggled a little bit to find his game at the beginning of the year, but I give him all the credit. Going over, and I've been in a [Bucks head coach] [Scott] Skiles system before. I know that John is a good player for that system."

Skiles returns: After leaving the Bulls a couple season ago, Skiles seems to have landed on his feet quite nicely in Milwaukee, especially now that Salmons is on a roll. His former players know that Skiles has the ability to turn teams around. "He's a helluva coach," Noah said. "He really knows his X's and O's. [His teams] have great defensive principles. And they have a great offense. So he's really good with his X's and O's."

Deng knows that Skiles will have the Bucks ready to play on Tuesday night.

"Skiles' teams' always play hard," he said. "But at this time of the season, who's not playing hard? It's going to be a tough game. We just got to focus on us. Don't focus on them too much. And try to get another win."