Bulls send Cameron Payne to D-League

Bulls send Cameron Payne to D-League

When the Bulls traded Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott for Cameron Payne and others at the deadline, it was said that Payne had star potential and he could be a point guard of the future.

With the operative word being, "future", Payne was dispatched to the Bulls’ D-League team in Hoffman Estates for the next couple days as the Bulls head to Toronto for a game against the Raptors.

"He’s going to practice with Windy City this afternoon and then he’ll play in tomorrow’s game," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "And then the plan is to see how things go with the game, practice with Windy City again on Wednesday and then play in the game on Thursday as well."

Payne has missed time with soreness in his right foot, a foot that’s been operated on twice in his career. Getting acclimated to a new team, along with playing time that wasn’t easy to come by in Oklahoma City, hasn’t been easy.

He’s shown more of an aggressiveness to shoot than playmaking in his nine games as a Bull, jacking up nearly nine triples per 36 minutes and shooting 33 percent from three.

"I'm just trying to float the offense. It's not just about putting up shots for me, but I'm gonna take an open shot if it's there," Payne said last week. "I'm not gonna pass up an open shot at all, because I feel like that would hurt the offense. 

"If it's an extra pass or a shot, you've got to take it. Fortunately, a lot of those shots come to me when I'm wide open so I've got to take them to help the offense."

With Gibson contributing as expected in Oklahoma City and McDermott having a couple breakout games sprinkled into his stint, the Bulls seem to have a lot invested in Payne, so the D-League assignment could be seen as a sign Payne isn’t yet ready for prime-time.

He was another in a point guard rotation that included Michael Carter-Williams, Jerian Grant and veteran Rajon Rondo, who returned to the starting lineup last week in Charlotte after being pulled in late December.

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When the mantra seemed like Hoiberg was going to give everybody a chance, one wondered if the game was moving too fast for Payne. He often turned the ball over in bunches, but he hasn’t had the practice time to acclimate to the offense, either.

Payne has spent time with Hoiberg looking at film to see where he can get his opportunities, but it wasn’t going to be an easy transition.

And being that he was singled out by the front office as a prime reason for trading a veteran like Gibson and McDermott, whom many feel was still developing, he’ll face a lot of pressure when he does get out there.

Luckily for Payne, he carries an easygoing demeanor and gets along well with his teammates as he’s struggled.

"I think I've played alright," Payne said. "It's been hard trying to get adjusted, but I've been playing alright, on and off. I've had a lot of turnovers, which I've got to clean up. But I feel like it's just getting used to playing with the guys I'm playing with. I'll definitely play better."

Five Things to Watch: Bulls battle Celtics in Game 6

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Five Things to Watch: Bulls battle Celtics in Game 6

Watch as the Bulls take on the Celtics tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1. The point guard carousel. It's been something to watch all year, and with the Bulls desparately searching for answers it will continue to be one heading into Game 6. Isaiah Canaan actually played well against Isaiah Thomas, and Dwyane Wade looked comfortable initiating the offense. That'll need to continue simply for the Bulls to have a chance, with Rajon Rondo ruled out for the game.

2. What's Jimmy Butler's health status? Jimmy Butler attempted just two free throws in the fourth quarter of Game 5. He only went to the free throw line one time, in the second quarter. This goes without saying, but the Bulls' only chance to win Games 6 and 7 is for Butler to be playing like his old self. With his back against the wall, maybe we'll see that "Jimmy Game" where he wins it by himself.

3. Is Isaiah Thomas heating up? The smallest player on the court is starting to heat up in the series. While his shooting hasn't been great, he was super in Game 3, took over in Game 4 and made plenty of plays in Game 5 that led to a win. It wouldn't be surprising at all to see him continue this, as his eyes seem to light up every trip down the floor with Rondo on the sideline.

4. Who's the next surprise contributor? Bobby Portis, Paul Zipser, Isaiah Canaan and now Anthony Morrow have all made surprising contributions in the series. At this point that's what it's going to take to compete against a deep Celtics team that's healthy and rolling with some momentum. Could it be Cris Felicio playing big? Perhaps Portis gets hot again from deep? Either way, it's got to be someone helping Butler and Wade.

5. The Bulls' backs are against the wall. It's simple. Win or go home. How will the Bulls respond in this type of situation, with Boston holding all the momentum and looking to end this before it goes back to Boston for a do-or-die Game 7. The Bulls don't have a lot of pressure on them from a national standpoint, but you can bet their expectations for themselves are large. How they respond early will say a lot about the job Fred Hoiberg did getting them ready.

- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you’re ready for action

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

- NBC Sports App FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Bulls: All of the most recent news and notes

Dwyane Wade named finalist for Best Style in NBA Awards

Dwyane Wade named finalist for Best Style in NBA Awards

Dwyane Wade's return to Chicago hasn't always gone according to plan this year, but the veteran is listed as a finalist for the first-ever NBA Awards.

Wade is among the three finalists for Best Style alongside Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and Iman Shumpert of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The inaugural NBA Awards will air June 26 on TNT at 8 p.m. Chicago time.

Besides Best Style, the fan-voted categories include Dunk of the Year, Block of the Year, Assist of the Year, Game Winner of the Year and Top Performance of the Year.

Fans can vote on social media or head to NBA.com/NBAAwards.

Wade has flashed his style on the red carpet over the years alongside actress wife Gabrielle Union: