Don't Look Now, But The Bulls Are Improving

It might not mean much more than a playoff berth, but the post-trade Bulls are looking much-improved

The main strength of John Paxson's deadline deals to trade for Brad Miller and John Salmons (and trade away Larry Hughes) was to free up cap room for 2010, when the NBA's best crop of free agents in a generation will be looking for the largest deals in the biggest markets. Because of Miller's expiring deal, the Bulls can make a trade next year they might not have been able to otherwise make. This is a good thing.

But in the short term, the Miller-Salmons deal is proving to be pretty effective on the floor, too. Not, like, championship-effective, but effective enough: After last night's win over Miami, the Bulls have moved all the way up to a tie for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

That's not exactly cause for celebration. The seventh seed in the East is what it is. You need only be mediocre to acheive this. But compared to where the Bulls were earlier in the season, and their marginal improvements in small areas on offense, seventh in the East -- the distinction of "mediocre" -- practically feels like an accomplishment.

Vinny Del Negro is still a bad coach. The Bulls still have no chance of winning the NBA title. But they are, if anything else, occasionally watchable. Progress, people. We'll take it.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger who jumped at that alley-oop last night. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, Follow him on Twitter.

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