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Cameron Payne’s mere existence is a symbol of the Bulls conflicting directions

why is Payne?

Indiana Pacers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

This ‘Cameron Payne as the backup PG’ thing is weird, dumb, and indicative of the Bulls directionless roster construction.

This isn’t meant to pile on Payne, but the Bulls for continuing their divergent paths best exemplified by Payne’s standing in the rotation.

KC Johnson, in the same Q&A article last week, unintentionally illustrated this dichotomy:


Maybe this got lost in translation, but the Bulls are going through a rebuild. They want as few veterans as possible. And they’re determined to ride out the Cameron Payne experience.


I’d guess they’re targeting free agency more than a high draft pick as of now. After all, John Paxson said he doesn’t want to live through another season like last season again.

We are indeed left ‘guessing’, because Paxson himself wouldn’t commit to saying what the season was for.

If you haven’t been paying attention to preseason, rest assured you didn’t miss Payne doing anything substantial. He was not able to capitalize on his career momentum, a state seemingly singularly-generated by the aforementioned Johnson mentioning Payne’s ‘throw-ahead passes’ in the tankathon to end last season.

This preseason, in 108 minutes, Payne is 5-17 from three and 3-15 from two. He has not attempted a single free throw. He has 16 assists and 7 turnovers. Defensively he has actually shown some quick hands but still gets run over 80% of the time on that end of the floor so it doesn’t matter much.

It’s been funny following the Bulls official twitter, a place that is clearly desperately trying to make Cam Payne a thing. Instead, here are a couple lowlight videos though after a quick search.

The fact that Payne has been given a prominent role indicates that they don’t mind being awful. But, then, they have also said they don’t want to be awful anymore? A free agent is more likely to come to a team that is building something, not going through the ‘experience’ of just throwing a bunch of young players out there in as ill-fitting a way as possible.

You can cynically rationalize it this way, maybe...that GarPax actually committing to the season one way or the other exposes themselves to criticism, which they hate, and this way they can’t lose even by losing. And they are determined to exhaust us all with Cameron Payne because they don’t want to admit even a relatively-smaller mistake like the trade that brought him here.

Now, sometimes, this philosophy (such that it is) can work, like how they want to be right on Wendell Carter, AND it turns out that Carter is the best option to start at center right now. But there’s a big gaping hole in the PG spot and the moves getting to that point indicate a real lack of a path.