Cameron Payne

Central Notes: Payne, Korver, Cavs, Pistons

In the wake of Kris Dunn‘s MCL injury, Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago suggested that it was time for the Bulls to spin the point guard roulette wheel again. While he acknowledged that Cameron Payne, Shaquille Harrison, Ryan Arcidiacono, and Tyler Ulis were all options, Schanowski argued that Chicago’s best option at the point might be Zach LaVine, who is most effective with the ball in his hands.

In the Bulls’ first win of the season on Wednesday night, LaVine did handle the ball most in crunch time, but before the game reached that point, it was Payne who enjoyed a breakout performance. As Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago details, Payne followed up a poor first half by making seven 3-pointers in the second half, good for a career-best 21 points.

“It was a huge night for Cam, huge confidence booster,” Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You know, Cam works as hard as anybody on this team. It’s great to see that hard work pay off and it’s a confidence booster, something he can build on.”

Payne has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency since being acquired by the Bulls at the 2017 trade deadline, but Wednesday’s showing was a step in the right direction, and he should get more opportunities in the coming weeks, with Dunn expected to be sidelined at least another month or so. Payne will be eligible for restricted free agency at season’s end, so he’ll have a chance to improve his stock if he keeps playing well.

Here’s more from around the Central division:

  • Cavaliers sharpshooter Kyle Korver isn’t concerned if his playing time is cut back or if his role is unpredictable from game to game, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “I think we’re trying to figure a lot of things out across the board,” Korver said on Wednesday. “Trying to find lineups that work, trying to find a fun style of play. There’s a lot of new here and it hasn’t been that long yet. This is a great job for me, whether I’m playing or not, so I’m going to come every day and work hard.”
  • Korver’s comments came prior to the Cavaliers‘ fourth straight loss on Wednesday night, a game that didn’t impress fellow veterans Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love, as Joe Vardon of The Athletic relays. “We need everyone in this organization that gets paid by the Cleveland Cavaliers to make sure everyone is here to fight and no one has quit yet,” Thompson said after the Cavs were blown out at home by Brooklyn.
  • When an NBA team hires a new head coach, it has a ripple effect on that club’s G League affiliate. In an interesting piece for MLive.com, Peter J. Wallner takes a closer look at how the Grand Rapids Drive, led by coach Ryan Krueger, will work to implement new Pistons coach Dwane Casey‘s philosophy at the NBAGL level this season after growing accustomed to Stan Van Gundy‘s system and style.

Bulls’ Kris Dunn Out 4-6 Weeks With MCL Sprain

Bulls starting point guard Kris Dunn will be sidelined for the next four to six weeks after suffering a sprained MCL, the team announced today (via Twitter). The injury occurred in the second quarter of Monday’s loss to Dallas, per head coach Fred Hoiberg (Twitter link via The Chicago Sun-Times).

Dunn, who missed the start of the season due to the birth of his child, was making his regular season debut on Monday. While he was able to stay in and finish the game after sustaining the injury, he’ll now be out of action until at least late November, according to the team.

With Dunn set to return within six weeks or so, the Bulls are unlikely to make a roster move to acquire point guard depth, particularly since they already did so over the weekend — the club added Shaquille Harrison to a group that also includes Cameron Payne and Ryan Arcidiacono, and those three guards figure to handle the position in Dunn’s absence. Tyler Ulis may also see some action, but he’s on a two-way contract, so any day he plays or practices with the team will count toward his 45-day NBA limit.

Payne, who started Chicago’s first two games of the season, is the best bet to claim Dunn’s spot in the starting five. All three of the Bulls’ reserve point guards will be looking to make an impression on team management with Dunn on the shelf, as Payne is in a contract year and Harrison and Arcidiacono don’t have fully guaranteed salaries.

The Bulls will now be without Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, and Denzel Valentine for the time being as they look to rebound from an 0-3 start.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Harrison, Asik, Payne

While their 0-3 start hasn’t generated the sort of angst that the Thunder’s or Lakers’ has, the Bulls expressed some frustration after falling 115-109 to the Mavericks on Monday night. After head coach Fred Hoiberg suggested that “we lost our composure,” Zach LaVine initially disagreed with that idea, assigning the blame elsewhere.

We gotta run the right sets out there,” LaVine said, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “That was the main thing. If we would have run the right plays, got the ball to the right people, I think we would have been all right.”

Later in his conversation with reporters, LaVine conceded that his head coach might be right about the club losing its composure, adding that he was “not putting [the loss] on Fred,” as K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune details. Still, the fifth-year guard said the Bulls “have to do better” at recognizing who has the hot hand on offense and running plays for those players.

Here’s more from out of Chicago:

  • Shaquille Harrison‘s new contract with the Bulls is a two-year, minimum salary deal with $250K guaranteed this season, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. According to Andrews, Harrison will get a $175K guarantee for 2019/20 if he’s not waived by August 15 next summer.
  • The Bulls are leaning toward using the stretch provision on Omer Asik, Andrews adds. Asik’s contract includes a $3MM partial guarantee for 2019/20, so stretching it across three years would reduce that cap hit to $1MM annually.
  • Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago explores what the newly-signed Harrison might bring to the Bulls, pointing to the former Sun’s ability as a perimeter defender as something that could help the team right away.
  • Cameron Payne, who is in a contract year, is healthy and looking to prove his worth, but with Harrison now on board and Kris Dunn back in the lineup, his opportunities may be limited, as K.C. Johnson writes for The Chicago Tribune.

Central Notes: Arcidiacono, Dekker, Walton, Clarkson

The way that Ryan Arcidiacono‘s contract with the Bulls is structured to keep him eligible for the G League, Basketball Insiders’ Eric Pincus tweets. Arcidiacano has a $50K guarantee, which will allow him to play with the Windy City Bulls. He signed a minimum one-year deal worth $1,349,383. The 6’3” guard out of Villanova appeared in 24 NBA games last season as a two-way player, averaging 2.0 points in nearly 13 minutes of action. He posted a 13.8/4.5/8.6 line in 37 G League games.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • The Clippers will send $1,247,494 to the Cavaliers as part of the Sam Dekker trade, which was made official on Tuesday, Pincus reveals in another tweet. That amount isn’t random — it’s the exact difference between Dekker’s salary and a veteran’s minimum salary, essentially allowing the Cavs to take a flier on the forward at the minimum.
  • Derrick Walton Jr. gives the Bulls another alternative, along with Arcidiacono, to Cameron Payne as Kris Dunn‘s backup, Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago notes. Walton is expected to sign with Chicago, according to his agent, after the Heat cut ties with the former University of Michigan floor leader last month. Walton is a better perimeter shooter than Payne, who is more comfortable having the ball in his hands and running pick-and-rolls, Michael Walton continues. The Bulls have a number of players who can create for themselves, so Walton might be a better fit behind Dunn, Michael Walton adds.
  • Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson is unlikely to play for Philippines in this month’s Asian Games, according to a Sportando report. Clarkson was a late addition to their national team but won’t be able to join them in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Central Notes: Valentine, McMillan, Morris, Pistons

The Bulls’ starting lineup seems set but there will be a couple of key position battles in training camp, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times notes. Justin Holiday and Denzel Valentine will be angling for playing time at small forward behind Jabari Parker, while Cameron Payne could have an unexpectedly tough battle with Ryan Arcidiacono as the main backup at point guard. Cristiano Felicio also needs to carve out a role and earn some of his $8,470,980 salary, Cowley adds. ‘‘The thing I’m excited about with training camp is it’s going to be open competition,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers needed to extend coach Nate McMillan to prevent a lame-duck situation next season, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star explains. McMillan agreed to an extension through the 2020/21 season. It was also necessary for a franchise that preaches culture and loyalty to reward its coach for a job well-done last season, Michael continues. The Pacers overcame the lack of true stretch four as well as a shooter at the backup shooting guard spot. Their wings were also somewhat limited offensively and they were undersized in the backcourt, Michael adds.
  • If Jaylen Morris can improve his perimeter shooting, the Bucks will be rewarded for signing him to a two-way contract, according to Dakota Schmidt of RidiculousUpside.com. Morris is adept at attacking the basket and finishing at the rim and is also a solid defender, Schmidt continues. The 22-year-old wing will also benefit from working with assistant Ben Sullivan, who has helped numerous players with their shooting stroke, Schmidt adds.
  • The Pistons’ 15-man roster appears to be set after a low-key July that included the free agent signings of three reserves, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press relays. Ellis breaks down the roster player-by-player in the story.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Grant, Payne, Stone

The Bulls will be investing in an unknown commodity by matching the Kings’ four-year, $78MM offer sheet for Zach LaVine, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Chicago’s most recent offer to LaVine was only about $2MM less per year than the deal with the Kings, so it’s not a great financial burden for the team to take on. The bigger question is what kind of player LaVine will be after an ACL tear limited him to a combined 71 games over the past two seasons.

The 23-year-old got into just 24 contests in his first season with Chicago and wasn’t particularly effective. LaVine averaged 16.7 points per game, but shot a career-low 38.3% from the floor and the Bulls were outscored by 7.2 PPG while he was on the court. Friedell states that LaVine hasn’t progressed beyond what he was when he entered the league, an athletic marvel who lacks efficiency on offense and consistency on defense.

The Bulls may also have to repair their relationship with LaVine, who said he felt more wanted by the Kings in free agency. The front office believes it has to match LaVine’s offer sheet so it won’t lose the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade, Friedell adds, but it isn’t certain that it’s getting a player to build around for the next four seasons.

There’s more news out of Chicago:

  • An escalating salary cap will make LaVine’s new contract look better in future years, notes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Conflicting reports give LaVine a starting salary of either $18.1MM or $19.5MM, which would be either 17.8% or 19.1% of the salary cap, and that percentage will fall in future years as the cap continues to rise. Johnson also notes that the Kings did the Bulls a favor by putting substantial injury protection for themselves in the deal in case LaVine has more problems with his left knee. Chicago’s front office didn’t suggest that in its negotiations out of fear of angering LaVine and his representatives.
  • Tonight’s decision to trade Jerian Grant was a sign of confidence in Cameron Payne as the backup point guard, Johnson adds in a separate story. The Bulls will save about $1MM in swapping Grant for Julyan Stone and another $1,656,092 by waiving Stone before his August 1 guarantee date. Injuries have limited Payne to just 36 games since being acquired from the Thunder at the 2017 trade deadline.
  • The Bulls will create a $2.6MM trade exception in tonight’s deal, tweets salary cap specialist Albert Nahmad. The team can open as much as $29MM before officially matching LaVine’s offer sheet by waiving Paul Zipser and Sean Kilpatrick (Twitter link).

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Payne, Dunn, Markkanen

It’s possible that Zach LaVine has played his last game of the 2017/18 season. As Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times details, the Bulls announced on Wednesday that LaVine – suffering from tendinitis in his left knee – will be re-evaluated in five to seven days. If the Bulls don’t see enough progress by that point, they may shut LaVine down, but he’s hoping to avoid that outcome, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.

“There are still some games to get in a rhythm before getting into the offseason and working out,” LaVine said. “I always want to hoop.”

It has been something of a lost season for LaVine, who missed the first half while he recovered from ACL surgery, and has only played 24 games for his new team. His .383 FG% in those games is easily a career low, but the Bulls probably don’t mind not getting much from LaVine this year — they acquired him with an eye on the future, and are still fully expected to lock him up to a long-term deal as a restricted free agent this summer. His modest 2017/18 showing may even keep his price down a little for the club.

Here’s more out of Chicago:

  • Cameron Payne didn’t fit well last year on a Bulls roster that featured Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, and Jimmy Butler, but he has looked like a better fit since returning from his foot injury this year, says K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Payne, who is under contract for 2018/19, says he’s still working to prove that he deserves a regular role on next year’s squad. “I have to keep showing people I belong,” Payne said. “Everybody had their opinions of me already. It’s tough to change someone’s opinion.”
  • While Payne figures to play a role next year, Kris Dunn is still viewed as the Bulls’ point guard of the future, Johnson writes in a separate article for The Tribune. “Just looking at that (December) stretch where we were playing really good, as well as anybody in the Eastern Conference for that time period, Kris was as good as anybody on our roster,” head coach Fred Hoiberg said. “So we really think he has a bright future with us.”
  • Dunn, LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen – the three players acquired from the Timberwolves in last year’s Butler trade – are viewed as the Bulls’ core building blocks, but they barely saw any action together this season, writes Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago. According to Goodwill, in the limited minutes that all three players were on the court this season, they had an offensive rating of 97.5 and a defensive rating of 119.2, numbers which raise more questions than they answer.

Bulls Notes: Lineup Changes, Payne, Forman

With 25 games left in their season, the Bulls are focusing on the future, as VP John Paxson explained to reporters on Tuesday (link via Sam Smith of Bulls.com). That means that Cristiano Felicio will move into the starting lineup on Thursday in place of veteran center Robin Lopez, while David Nwaba will supplant Justin Holiday.

“The hard part from our standpoint is you can’t play 12 guys. Nine or 10 is the most,” Paxson said. “We’re going to start looking at blocks of games where we’ll be having a few guys who haven’t been playing much or at all have a significant role. The whole goal in our position is to evaluate what we have on this roster.

“The hard thing when you do things like this is you’re asking certain people to sacrifice roles and minutes,” Paxson continued. “It’s veteran guys. That’s never an easy thing. As I told them, I, along with [GM] Gar [Forman], we’re entrusted with the future of the organization. So these last 25 games, we’re going to evaluate what we have on this roster by playing more the guys we haven’t seen much this year.”

Let’s round up a few more Bulls notes…

  • Cameron Payne, who has missed the entire season with a foot injury, is set to make his 2017/18 debut on Thursday, writes Madeline Kenney of The Chicago Sun-Times. Payne figures to cut into Jerian Grant‘s playing time.
  • With John Paxson once again addressing reporters on Tuesday, Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times explores where Gar Forman has been “hiding” this season. According to Cowley, Paxson comes across as more “honest and transparent” than Forman, which is why the VP has handled most of the team’s media responsibilities this season. However, Forman is still very much involved in basketball operations and is by no means being pushed out of the organization.
  • Justin Holiday is trying to take his reduced role in stride, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. “I have to deal with it, be professional about it,” Holiday said. “Regardless of the situation or the reason, I have to carry myself a certain way because that’s how I do things. How I react and carry myself in this will be a good leadership situation for the young guys to see and follow the example if it does happen to them.”
  • The $600K fine Mark Cuban received for publicly discussing the benefits of losing is exactly why Paxson and other members of the Bulls organization will dance around the subject of tanking, says Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago.

Central Notes: Bulls, Nelson, J.R. Smith, Pacers

The Bulls need to get more serious about tanking and start making moves to improve their lottery chances, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com argues. Cristiano Felicio, Paul Zipser, Noah Vonleh and Cameron Payne should receive a lot more playing time, while veterans like Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday should have their minutes reduced, Friedell says. Holding out Zach LaVine on the second game of back-to-backs would also facilitate the cause, Friedell adds.

Also around the Central Division:

  • Small forward James Ennis and point guard Jameer Nelson have jumped right into the Pistons’ rotation after being acquired just before the trade deadline. Ennis, who was traded by the Grizzlies for forward Brice Johnson and a future second-round pick, has averaged 9.5 PPG and 17.5 MPG over the past two games. Nelson, who was traded by the Bulls for Willie Reed and future draft considerations, has averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.0 APG in 19.5 MPG during his first two games with Detroit.
  • Nelson, 35, told Hoops Rumors and other reporters that he’d like to continue playing after this season. The Pistons point guard be an unrestricted free agent this summer.  “I never want to put a limit or a time frame on my career,” he said. “My body feels good, my mind is right. So I’ll just continue to work. My body and mind will tell me when it’s time for me to go. I think there will be a lot of teams that will need a guy like me next season.”
  • Pacers players lobbied GM Kevin Pritchard to stand pat during the trade deadline, Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star relays. Pritchard was approached by six players, who told him they wanted to see what they could accomplish with the current mix. “They feel like they are overachieving and had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Pritchard said during a press conference. “They wanted to have the opportunity to finish this out and try to get into the playoffs. … That carried a lot of weight with me.”
  • Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith held onto his roster spot and retained his starting job, but he admits he was sweating out the deadline, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports. “My name was being thrown around a lot out there, so it was nerve-wracking for sure,” Smith said. “When you see six guys getting traded and there’s still more than an hour to the trade deadline, there’s no telling what can happen.” Smith is owed $30.3MM over the next two seasons, which made his contract difficult to move, McMenamin notes.

Bulls Notes: Payne, Vonleh, Butler, Felicio

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.