The Chicago Bulls and NBA trade rumors have been going hand-in-hand in the 2016-17 season. As a result, no one should be surprised by the Bulls’ deadline deal.
According to ESPN, Chicago is trading away Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Joffrey Lauvergne, Anthony Morrow, and Cameron Payne.
On the surface, many Bulls fans are likely thinking they got robbed. After all, Gibson alone is averaging 11.6 points and seven rebounds per game. As for McDermott, he is putting up 10.2 points per contest this season, and he was also picked No. 11 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Needless to say, the Thunder should be thrilled by the two players they just landed. Gibson’s leadership and McDermott’s shooting abilities (he is shooting 37.3 percent from behind the arc in 2016-17) alone make this a win for Oklahoma City.
As for the Bulls, hopefully they are getting their point guard of the future in Payne. No, Payne’s numbers aren’t All-Star worthy (5.3 points and two assists per game), but there are two crucial things to keep in mind: (1) Oklahoma City has Russell Westbrook, who is having an MVP-worthy season, and (2) Payne is only 22-years-old.
If Payne turns into the actual point guard of the future in Chicago, then this trade will sway in Chicago’s favor. If not, then the Bulls just gave away two very talented players who should do wonders for the Thunder the rest of the season, and especially when the playoffs come rolling along.
Does this trade make Oklahoma City a serious title threat? That remains to be seen. While Westbrook is a top player in this league, the team took a major step back in the offseason when Kevin Durant took his talents to the Golden State Warriors. In the process, Golden State, a squad that won 73 regular season games last season, became that much better.
Oklahoma City holds the No. 7 seed in the West thanks to its 32-25 record.
Giving the ball back to the Bulls, they hold the No. 7 seed in the East thanks to their 28-29 record.
Payne was drafted No. 14 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. While he didn’t go to a big-time school like Duke, he still managed to put up 20.2 points per game for the Murray State Racers in the 2014-15 college basketball season.
While many fans were likely expecting a Jimmy Butler deal to go down, the trade deadline came and went and Butler is still going to be rocking a Bulls jersey.
At first glance, this likely seems like a home-run deal for the Thunder. After all, the Bulls just gave up two very capable players (that’s putting it lightly) and a draft pick for basically a player who has yet to prove anything at the NBA level (side note: Payne is a pretty solid dancer, and he has shown off his moves early and often in his young pro career so far).
If Payne actually pans out and becomes the point guard that Chicago is desperately hoping for, then this trade will start to favor the Bulls. Maybe. However, fans likely won’t know until a season or two down the road.
In the meantime, all Chicago fans can do is hope for Payne to become a scoring threat and a distributing machine. If not, then the Bulls basically gave away McDermott and Gibson, two key players, for basically nothing.
For all it’s worth, Payne is only shooting 31.9 percent from the three in his young career so far. If he is going to become the future at the point guard position in Chicago, then that number has to come up.
Time will tell, but the Thunder won this deal when fans look at the short-term journey. That remains to be seen in the long-term.
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