Let's start this post by saying that I still dislike the trade. Given Salmons' contract, even straight up this would have been a sketchy deal. That said, John Salmons is back on the Sacramento Kings, and he's probably not going anywhere anytime soon. I spent all day yesterday trying to figure out just what Geoff Petrie was thinking when he made this deal. Though I still don't like it and wish I had a time machine so I could go back and hit Petrie on the head with an iron skillet before he could pull the trigger on this, I can see some of the logic behind the move:
- Down year, or declining? - Obviously since he's already 31, last season could easily be the start of Salmons' decline as a player. He put up miserable offensive stats, led by a pitiful 41.5% field goal percentage. That said, it's not a lock that Salmons is declining. Last year was a big step below his usual numbers, and 31 isn't exactly nursing-home age. Perhaps last year was simply a down year.
- Salmons became a better defender upon leaving Sacramento - I know a large part of his improved defensive stats (DRtg in Sacramento: 109, 110, 116; DRtg after leaving: 111, 106, 106, 105) were due to leaving the Kings, a poor defensive team, for the Bulls and Bucks, two very good defensive teams, but Salmons easily could have become a better defensive player by playing in those systems. He's not an elite defender by any means, but he's definitely better than what the Kings currently have.
- Salmons was much better at SF than SG last year - Albeit in a small sample size (8% of his team's minutes at SG vs. 55% of his team's minutes at SF), Salmons was a much better player at SF than as a SG last year. As a SG: 88.6 ORtg, 91.5 DRtg, 12.2 PER for, 14.9 PER against. As a SF: 100.8 ORtg, 88.8 DRtg, 18.0 PER for, 11.7 PER against. That's a very large swing. Perhaps Petrie expects Salmons to be much more effective playing SF in Sacramento than he was playing SG in Milwaukee.
- Salmons can shoot the three - Salmons wasn't much of a three-point shooter early in his career, but it's a skill he's developed over time. Over the past three seasons Salmons has shot 41.7%, 38.2%, and 37.9% from three-point range for a combined total of 39.4%. Salmons' 37.9% from 3 last year would have been second on the Kings behind only Luther Head.
- Salmons is a good free throw shooter - Unlike some players that might have been put into games late for defensive purposes at SF (Donte), Salmons can actually make free throws. He's a career 80.6% free throw shooter and has shot 83.0%, 83.0%, and 81.9% the past three years. Having Salmons on the floor at the end of games for defense won't hurt the Kings if he gets fouled and ends up at the line.
- Beno wasn't going to play much anymore - Though Beno isn't a bad basketball player, the Kings obviously expected to use the 10th pick on a guard. Teams don't like to pay backup guards that wouldn't play a ton $14 million over two years. Though Salmons' contract is actually worse, Beno would have gotten very limited playing time, while Salmons will likely start. In terms of dollars per minute, it makes some sense.
- Salmons can handle the ball - He's not a point guard by any stretch of the imagination, but Salmons is a player that can bring the ball up the court if needed. He's also a decent passer, though he doesn't do it nearly enough.
- Perhaps Petrie thinks he's got a different attitude - I don't have any information about this at all; however, if there's any chance Salmons is ready to be a role player and third or fourth option, he could be a very solid fit. If Salmons can hit the corner three, play solid man defense, help handle the ball, and not complain about his role, he could be a valuable player for the Kings.
Again, I don't believe this was a good deal, and I especially do not believe it's the best deal Petrie could have made (the man needs to learn how to shop), but I do think there were worse deals to be made, and I can at least see what he was thinking when he made the deal. I'm over it now and ready to hopefully watch John Salmons help the Kings return to the playoffs.