Cameron Payne, who hasn’t played since having offseason surgery on his right foot, is expected back after the All-Star break, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. Coach Fred Hoiberg and VP of basketball operations John Paxson have stated that Payne will receive playing time whenever he is ready.
Payne has appeared in just 11 games for Chicago since being acquired from the Thunder at the 2017 trade deadline. He was assigned to the Bulls’ Windy City team in the G League earlier this week to shake off some rust before returning to the NBA club.
Taken 14th overall by the Thunder in the 2015 draft, Payne has yet to find success at the NBA level. He averaged 5.2 points and 1.8 assists last season in 31 games with Oklahoma City and Chicago.
There’s more tonight from the Windy City:
- Newly acquired forward Noah Vonleh is sitting out tonight’s game and may not play until after the break, according to Friedell (Twitter link). Hoiberg wants him to get some practice time to get used to the Bulls’ system, and there may not be an opportunity for that until after Wednesday when the team will have eight straight days off.
- Before the Timberwolves came to town Friday, Paxson discussed the Jimmy Butler trade, saying it has worked out well for both teams, Friedell relays in a full story. The Bulls sent Butler and Justin Patton to Minnesota on draft night for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen. “We’re really happy,” Paxson said. “I won’t speak for Minnesota, but you got an All-Star player in Jimmy Butler that can go along with their young core. It seems to have addressed the desires of both teams. In this business, if you can do that, that’s a good thing.”
- The lack of progress by backup center Cristiano Felicio has been puzzling, Sam Smith of NBA.com writes in a mailbag column. After two promising seasons, Felicio was rewarded with a four-year, $32MM deal last summer. But his numbers have gone down across the board, with averages of 3.8 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 13 minutes per night. Smith believes Felicio’s reluctance to shoot has hurt his game.