The Zach LaVine drama may have distracted fans away from a trade the Chicago Bulls made last week. In a three-team deal between the Bulls, Hornets, and Magic, Bismack Biyombo went to Charlotte, Jerian Grant and Timofey Mozgov to Orlando, and Julyan Stone to Chicago.
After a day, Stone was waived by the Bulls before the $1.6 million of his contract kicked in sometime in August. Clearly, this was a move to create even more cap space. It also was time for Grant to leave the Bulls. During his two seasons in Chicago, he was disappointing, to say the least.
He played in 63 games during the 2016-17 averaging 5.9 points a game. His field goal percentage was low at .425, and he never really fit in on the Bulls’ roster. Grant was sloppy most of the time–whether it was making an inaccurate pass or dribbling a ball out of bounce. Grant was a turnover machine. That’s not an ideal attribute for a point guard. The 2017-18 season wasn’t much better.
Grant averaged just 8.4 points to go along with a .415 field goal percentage. Grant was acquired by the Bulls in the Derrick Rose trade that sent the former MVP to the New York Knicks.
Let’s be honest, last season was a chance for Grant to earn the No. 2 point guard position behind Kris Dunn. He failed, and in the process, another player emerged.
At the end of last season, Payne played well enough for the Bulls’ brass to feel comfortable making him the team’s backup point guard heading into training camp.
Payne actually missed the first 58 games of last season after having surgery. What really made Payne stand out was his ability from beyond the arch. Payne shot 38.5 percent from 3-point range last season. Though the sample size was small at just 25 games played.
The hope is Payne can be a spark off the bench and spread the floor a bit. Dunn has the skills to shoot the three ball but has had a hard time doing it consistently so far in his short NBA career. That makes the Dunn-Payne combination an intriguing duo.
Last year, Payne had a few big-time performances.
But by the time Payne was healthy and in shape, he took advantage of his opportunity, with games of 17 points and six assists against Milwaukee, 13 points, and 10 assists against Cleveland and 15 points and six assists in the second-to-last game of the season against Brooklyn.
(NBC Sports Chicago)
The goal for Payne has to be to stay healthy. At just 23-years-old, he still has upside. Payne was taken with the No. 14 overall in the 2015 NBA draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Again, the story of Payne’s career thus far has been injuries. He’s had anything from a broken ring finger to an acute foot fracture.
Can Payne be Trusted?
Does anyone in the basketball world think Payne will turn into a solid back up point guard? Hell no. This is a guy who airballs shots on a somewhat consistent basis. He also does other things that make opposing teams laugh.
Take a look below.
Cameron Payne almost ended his career on this play😂😂pic.twitter.com/j4le6Bg6Jc
— NBA Inside Stuff (@NBAInside_Stuff) July 11, 2017
LeBron sends and points Cameron Payne to the G-League pic.twitter.com/aV6hWIHeB9
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) March 18, 2018
Such a beautiful tank possession by the Chicago Bulls. First Cameron Payne misses a wide open layup. Then instead of tip jamming it, Noah Vonleh decides to tap the backboard @World_Wide_Wob pic.twitter.com/EXXpQZkhYK
— Ali B (@ali_behpoornia) March 14, 2018
Cameron Payne leading the Bulls tank charge pic.twitter.com/GGUU87Oliz
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) March 10, 2018
Fine, I’ll stop now.
This move has a 50-50 percent chance of working out. Payne needs to find a way to consistently play like this:
Besides the LaVine ordeal, the Bulls offseason has been quite dull. One would even describe it as being boring. It doesn’t look like they are going after any notable free agents and the only thing we have right now is summer league action.
I’m not saying I want the Bulls to go after free agents either. In fact, I would rather see them take on players with massive contracts in return for future draft picks.
Who knows what’s going to happen in the next couple months.
Follow Nick on Twitter: @TLS_Petrusevski–Feature Photo Credit: NBA.com