Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls don’t have room for Cameron Payne

Cameron Payne’s time with the Chicago Bulls has quickly been disappointing. They need to move on from what turned out to be a bad trade.

When the Chicago Bulls traded Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson for Cameron Payne, a second-round pick, and two other dudes, they probably expected to get more out of Payne than they have.

McDermott was a former No. 11 overall pick, and Gibson was a franchise staple. In Payne, the Bulls hoped to receive a young point guard who could one day take the reigns of the offense. That didn’t happen, as he played in just 11 games for Chicago last season. He averaged 4.9 points and 1.4 assists in 12.9 minutes per game.

In a series of bad moves, the Payne trade is particularly harmful. Chicago traded two assets and got nothing of value back. The opportunity cost there was real. McDermott could have fetched a better asset in return, and Gibson is still a useful player for the right team.

This summer, the Bulls traded star Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves, getting sophomore point guard Kris Dunn in return, all but ending Payne’s claim to a major role next season.

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Chicago has Dunn, Jerian Grant and Payne as a trio of young guards now. Since it’s hard to develop three guards at once (let alone one), one of them figures to be the odd-man out. With head coach Fred Hoiberg favoring Grant over Payne in last season’s playoffs, the smart money is on Payne looking on from the bench.

Grant didn’t play well in Chicago’s first-round loss to the Celtics last season, but he did at least play, appearing in five games and averaging 3.2 points, 1.0 assists and 1.4 turnovers per contest. Payne, meanwhile, played in one game for just four minutes.

Dunn is the future at point guard–he has to be. The basketball will be in his hands, as well as in the hands of Dwyane Wade and Zach LaVine. Even if Payne were to get on the court, he wouldn’t have much of a chance to develop.

So after half a season, it seems Payne is already pushed out. If Dunn is the real deal, the effects of that trade become (somewhat) less harmful. The Bulls should be focusing on the development of Dunn, and may consider unloading Payne and Grant and bringing in a veteran to mentor him.

They’ve already spent too many resources to land Payne, but that’s a sunk cost. They shouldn’t use up any more.

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