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Payne averaged 5.7 points and 2.7 assists in 31 games for Chicago this season. He also shot 41.1 percent from the field and 27.1 percent from beyond the arc.
The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Payne 14th overall in the 2015 draft. He spent a season-and-a-half in Oklahoma City before being traded to Chicago. Suffice to say, the move proved to be a bust for the Bulls.
Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA
Fair to re-evaluate what the Bulls gave up to get Cameron Payne:
Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and a second round pick.
And Chicago already had PGs at the time. That trade was questionable then and looks even worse now, even if Gibson and McDermott were mostly done as Bulls.
Jason Patt @Bulls_Jay
Cam Payne ends this Bulls season with a -19.5 net rating in 536 minutes. That’s the worst net rating in the NBA for any “rotation” player.
At the time, the team already had Rajon Rondo and Jerian Grant, the latter of whom was only 24 and serviceable in a backup role. The Bulls weren’t in need of another young point guard. The following offseason, Chicago acquired Kris Dunn as part of the Jimmy Butler trade, which pushed Payne further down the pecking order even before he underwent foot surgery in September 2017.
The Bulls had little reason to keep Payne on the roster. He’s eligible for restricted free agency in the summer, and the presence of Dunn and Ryan Arcidiacono offered a strong incentive to let Payne walk as a free agent.
Now, Chicago can focus more of its energy on Arcidiacono and fellow second-year guard Shaquille Harrison.
Payne, meanwhile, can get a change of scenery, though his poor numbers with the Bulls will likely limit his options. Teams generally have their rosters set by this point in the season and might need to make a corresponding move in order to sign him.
Payne may benefit from an extended run in the NBA G League, where he can play more regularly and bide his time until an opportunity comes available. At 24, it’s too early to write off his chances of becoming a solid reserve in the NBA.