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Addressing the John Salmons for J.J. Redick Rumor

As with all rumors, they should be taken with a grain of salt but this particular one garnered some buzz around the internet before last night's game between the Orlando Magic and the Milwaukee Bucks.


Via Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD:


Teams are calling about J.J. Redick but he has been playing so well lately. [...] His play has attracted suitors but Orlando may not want to move him since he's done so well as an insurance policy to Carter. I've heard that Chicago is interested in Redick and could offer John Salmons and his expiring contract for Redick and a filler (probably Bass or Johnson). If Orlando makes a move, it's going to be something smaller like this that doesn't change the face of the team but could still make an impact.


Later, Kennedy specified that the Chicago Bulls initiated the trade talks but there was little interest from the Magic. Whether or not the rumor is true is somewhat irrelevant because the move in question can be analyzed, regardless, to see whether or not it'd be the right decision - theoretically - if Orlando were to acquire Salmons in a deal. 


In short, no.


But let's delve deeper.


For those that don't know much about Salmons, here's what John Hollinger of ESPN Insider and Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus had to say about him before the 2009-2010 season got underway:



Though he's prioritized offense lately, Salmons has the quickness to be a top-notch defender if he focused more on it. In Sacramento he seemed wholly disinterested but upped his effort level when he got to Chicago and wasn't bad. He can stay in front of most wing players and can chase players through screens, but he could be a lot better with more consistent effort, as he was earlier in his career. When he plays small forward, however, bigger and more physical 3s do give him some trouble, as he gives up inches and pounds in that setting. 


Offensively, Salmons was deadly last season, but he's getting quite a reputation as a me-first shot-hunter. He's a notorious ball-stopper who will spend five seconds jab-stepping in order to find a shot while everyone else stands and watches, although he's good at setting up teammates once he puts the ball on the floor. His snit two years ago about coming off the bench in Sacramento adds to this impression. 


Salmons' work on improving his game must be admired, however. He's made substantial progress as a shooter since entering the league and has also developed a variety of runners and midrange shots that simply weren't in his arsenal a few years ago. 



John Salmons has steadily grown from a little-used reserve in his early days with the 76ers to one of the more underrated combo wing players in the NBA. Salmons was a godsend to the Bulls’ playoff push last season as they scrambled for solutions in the wake of Luol Deng’s absence. Salmons not only filled Deng’s spot in the lineup but was actually an upgrade over what the Bulls had been getting from their enigmatic young forward. 


Salmons has a solid inside-outside game, able to get past longer defenders and finish or draw contact and get to the line. He’s got nice touch from the perimeter and displayed newfound range last season, taking more three-pointers than before and converting a higher percentage. How much of that improvement was real will likely help Vinny Del Negro determine how to divvy up time between Salmons, Deng and Kirk Hinrich. On defense, Salmons is about average, with limited athleticism and length for a wing player. 


Let's address Salmons' offense because that's going to serve as the crux of this write-up in determining whether or not it would be wise for the Magic to give up Redick for him. Hollinger and Pelton noted Salmons' career-season on the offensive side of the ball last year but wondered if the spikes in his shooting percentages were sustainable or not. Hollinger, in particular, was skeptical:


Offensively, I wouldn't trust his statistical improvement from a year ago to hold up this year. While he's made genuine improvements as an offensive player, it's hard to believe that he's truly a 41 percent 3-point shooter or a deadly midrange marksman, as he appeared to be for much of last season. Historically, sudden one-year jumps in those categories tend to crash back to earth the next.


And guess what, those categories have crashed back to earth. This year, Salmons' statistics on the offensive side of the ball jive very closely with the numbers he's posted for his career. That's not good for Salmons because he's, more or less, not an efficient player on offense if he isn't shooting above his norm, which he hasn't shown he can consistently do apart from last year.

2009-2010 career
FG/36 4.8 4.7
FGA/36 11.7 10.5
TS% 52.2% 54.1%
eFG% 48.3% 49.1%
Offensive Rating 105 106


As for the other end of the court, the stats indicate that Salmons has been an above-average defender for the Bulls this season. Hollinger suggests that Salmons, as long as he's consistent with his effort, can be a net positive on defense and the statistics seem to show that. Granted, advanced defensive metrics are a work in progress, but they do paint a decent picture as to how good or bad a player is on defense.

John Salmons
defensive adj. plus/minus -2.46
opponent PER vs. SG's 15.0
defensive net plus/minus -3.0
eFG% allowed 47.6%


But again, the issue with Salmons is his offense. Salmons' numbers have been underwhelming this season and don't stack up favorably when compared to Redick's numbers. Note the similarities in usage rate, yet the disparities in efficiency for both players.


Yes, Redick is having a career-season and certainly his production could be anomalous. But that's highly doubtful. Why? Redick has always been known as a shooter and his statistics in the past showed that if he could put it all together, he could produce like he has this year. Simple as that. Nothing in the stats indicate that Redick is producing at a relatively unsustainable rate.

On the defensive side of the ball, Redick has been average.

J.J. Redick
defensive adj. plus/minus +2.48
opponent PER vs. SG's 14.3
defensive net plus/minus +4.0
eFG% allowed 48.0%


All in all, Salmons has the natural advantage on defense and Redick has the natural advantage on offense. Who's better, overall? 

John Salmons J.J. Redick
Games Played 45 49
Minutes Played 33.6 23.2
1 year adj. plus/minus +0.18 -2.96
net plus/minus +2.2 -5.1
statistical plus/minus +0.34 +0.30
PER 12.5 14.8
WARP 0.3 1.3
Win Shares 3.0 4.1


For general manager Otis Smith, it wouldn't make sense acquiring Salmons and giving up Redick in the process. First, Redick is entering the prime of his career and is playing at an age (25) that is ideal for the Magic, when considering the youth of Dwight Howard (24), Jameer Nelson (27), and others, as opposed to Salmons (30). Second, given that Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus are on the roster, the last thing the Magic need is another inefficient wing player with size who can play defense. Third, Orlando has no room for a player like Salmons that is a "me-first shot-hunter" and a "notorious ball-stopper" who has an affinity to "spend five seconds jab-stepping" before attempting a shot. There's more reasons but it should be clear trading Redick away in this instance wouldn't be a smart move by any means. Complicating matters is the fact that Salmons wouldn't be a good fit with the Magic.


Orlando could consider starting Vince Carter at shooting guard and Salmons at small forward with Pietrus and Barnes backing them up, respectively. But the team wouldn't be as good, defensively, because Salmons can't effectively guard opposing small forwards and vice-versa with Carter. Additionally, the Magic would be worse as a team because Redick, currently the most efficient player on the team by a wide margin when strictly looking at Offensive Rating (124.3 - 2nd in the NBA), would be absent from the bench to provide a spark on offense. An additional way of examining the comparison between the two players is determining whether or not Redick's advantages on offense overweigh Salmons' advantages on defense from a statistical standpoint. In this case, they do, which is why acquiring Salmons - at best - would be a lateral move.