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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Bulls, Kings pull off deal

By Chris Sheridan
ESPN.com

The Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings reached tentative agreement on Wednesday to trade Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden, Michael Ruffin and Cedric Simmons to the Kings for Brad Miller and John Salmons.

Salmons
Salmons

Andres Nocioni

Nocioni

The Kings then turned around and shipped Ruffin to the Portland Trail Blazers for forward Ike Diogu and cash considerations. The Kings waived guard Quincy Douby and veteran Sam Cassell, acquired on Tuesday from Boston, to make room for their new players.

One source told ESPN.com that the Bulls players were pulled off the team bus Wednesday afternoon and were told they had been traded.

"I've been traded before and the way I look at it is it means somebody wants you," Gooden said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Sacramento has been interested in me for a couple years, so maybe something can work out long-term there. If not, I'm an unrestricted free agent this summer, so I'm auditioning for other teams."

Talks between Sacramento and Chicago moved to an advanced stage this week, as ESPN.com reported earlier Wednesday, after the Kings were unsuccessful packaging Miller and Salmons in a deal with New York.

The Chicago-Sacramento trade is likely to be finalized later Wednesday, but one source close to the process cautioned that the deal could still be expanded to include additional players.

Another source indicated that the Kings had hoped to convince Chicago to accept center Mikki Moore instead of Salmons so Sacramento could trade Salmons in a separate move. The Bulls, though, want Salmons and the Kings did not oppose it because of long-term financial savings they're gaining from the trade.

"You always hate to lose good guys and good players, and that's difficult, but we're adding two guys that we like a lot," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said before the team's game at Milwaukee. "I think we're adding two really good pieces that we're excited about, and hopefully we can get them here soon and get them acclimated as soon as possible."

Miller is averaging 11.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for the 11-43 Kings. One of the better passing big men in the league, Miller has made two All-Star teams and actually played for the Bulls from 2000 to '02.

"It's going to be tough, because I have a lot of memories here," Miller told KHTK-AM, the Kings' flagship radio station. "My daughter was born here. I just wish I could have left the team in a little better shape."

This will be the third team for Salmons in his seven-year career. He is averaging a career-high 18.3 points per game, well above his career mark of 8.3.

The gritty Nocioni has played his entire five-year career with the Bulls, averaging 11.7 points and 5.0 rebounds over that time bouncing between the starting five and the bench. He signed a five-year extension in 2007.

"I'm not surprised," Nocioni said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "There have been a lot of rumors. I'm all right. I was waiting for this.

"But I don't feel bad the way I'm leaving. It's not like I did something wrong. I wasn't playing my best this season. But I gave everything to this team. I played hard every day whether in practice or in games. I'm a competitive person and I leave this team the best way I could. The only thing I feel bad about is I'm leaving a good team, good players and good coaches. I really enjoyed being with the Bulls. But this is the NBA life. Things like this can happen."

Gooden was traded to the Bulls last season in the deal that sent Ben Wallace to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was averaging 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in an injury-plagued season. The number that likely interested the Kings the most, however, is the $7.2 million that will come off their books this summer since he has an expiring contract. Simmons also has an expiring contract, so the Kings basically traded the salaries of Miller and Salmons for Nocioni's and cleared nearly $10 million.

"I enjoyed my time in Chicago," Gooden said, according to the Tribune. "It's a good bunch of guys and great management. They treat players with respect. I just wish we had won more and I had been healthier."

The Sacramento Bee reported on its Web site Wednesday that the Kings also offered Miller and Salmons to New Jersey in a deal that would net Ryan Anderson, Stromile Swift, Trenton Hassell and Eduardo Najera.

Chicago's ability to land Salmons would deeply disappoint two Southwest Division rivals -- Dallas and San Antonio -- which have been chasing the 29-year-old. Portland and Oklahoma City have also been frequently linked with Salmons.

With an offer of Bruce Bowen and Ime Udoka, San Antonio viewed Salmons as a far more affordable trade target for its perimeter rotation than Vince Carter. New Jersey's Carter has tempted the small-market Spurs for days but can be absorbed by them only in a hugely expensive and complicated deal.

The Mavericks have been offering Jerry Stackhouse's virtual expiring contract ($7 million this season, only $2 million guaranteed next season) to the Kings since this past summer, when Sacramento was shopping Ron Artest. The biggest obstacle for Dallas on a Salmons deal had been the Kings' insistence that the Mavericks -- lacking draft picks to sweeten the deal -- also take back guard Beno Udrih, who has four years and nearly $27 million remaining on his contract after this season.

There has been another complication for interested parties: Sources revealed Tuesday that Salmons has a 15 percent trade kicker in his contract that requires the team that acquires him to pay him a bonus of nearly $2 million and add that figure to its payroll. Salmons otherwise would rank as one of the league's better bargains, earning just $5.1 million this season while averaging 18.3 points and shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 41.8 percent on 3-pointers.

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard, ESPN.com's Marc Stein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.