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Cameron Payne should be in the D-League

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The Bulls deadline acquisition has been real bad and would be better off developing in Hoffman Estates

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Chicago Bulls Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Bulls brass is high on Cameron Payne, which is why he was the “centerpiece” of the deal that sent out Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and a second-round pick. The front office sees him as a potential point guard of the future, and perhaps one day he’ll be just that.

The problem is right now he’s awful and shouldn’t be getting minutes on a team that’s trying to make the playoffs (I think?) when there are better options available. He should be getting minutes in the D-League.

Payne was the primary backup point guard with Rajon Rondo back in the starting lineup against the Hornets. This meant Jerian Grant, who’s been starting and playing at least somewhat competently, was back out of the rotation in Fred Hoiberg’s latest edition of rotation roulette. Michael Carter-Williams also didn’t play.

Payne proceeded to put up a goose egg while missing all six of his shot attempts (four threes). He had two rebounds, an assist and a steal in his 11 minutes, and he managed not to turn the ball over, which is a plus for him given some of his awful turnovers thus far in Chicago. Like this one:

As a Bull, Payne is now averaging 6.0 points and 1.7 assists (to 1.4 turnovers) in 15.4 minutes per game while shooting 33.9 percent overall and 33.3 percent from distance. The Bulls are also getting outscored by 7.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the court, per NBA.com.

This is certainly a small sample size and Hoiberg hasn’t done him any favors with his weird rotation choices, but Payne was also terrible after returning from a foot injury with the Thunder before the trade (his rookie year was just okay). There’s very little he does well at this point, and he apparently has never met a shot he wouldn’t take. He’s basically just a gunner who can’t make anything.

Based on the assumption that the Bulls are trying to make the playoffs (they’re a half-game out) and that Rondo will be the starter the rest of the season, there’s not much reason for Payne to be the backup point guard over Grant. Grant isn’t great by any means, but he gives the Bulls a better chance to win games and get into the playoffs. Doing the half try to win/half develop guys is silly, but at least in this case Grant is a young guy, too! Hell, even MCW gives the Bulls a better chance than Payne.

You can argue that the Bulls should simply focus on development, play the young guys and see where the chips fall, but there’s no chance they bench Rondo again. This situation is why I was hoping they’d just cut bait with Rondo, because it’s not like they’re going anywhere with him, but now it appears Hoiberg may try to ride the ill-fated “Three Alphas” as far as they’ll take him. Or maybe that’ll change the next time Rondo is awful? Nobody knows at this point.

So in this case, instead of force-feeding a floundering Payne minutes as the Bulls make a playoff push, just send him to the Windy City Bulls and let him tear it up in Hoffman Estates. He can then either return this season if the Bulls are eliminated from playoff contention, or if they remain in the hunt he can come into camp next season and potentially compete for either the starting job (hopefully not) or the primary backup role on a team that hopefully as a bit more direction.