Oklahoma City Thunder make late deal, trading with the Chicago Bulls
Feb 25 2017 by Dustin Murphy
He's scored in double figures eight times with a season high of 17 points on February 13 at Washington, which tied Russell Westbrook for the Thunder high in that game.
The Thunder had dangled Payne in multiple deals leading up to Thursday afternoon's trade deadline, including in possible trades with Denver. The Thunder, meanwhile, pick up two significant rotation assets that come straight out of central casting for the club.
Less than 30 minutes before the 2 p.m. deadline, Chicago traded Gibson, wing Doug McDermott and a second-round pick to Oklahoma City for point guard Cameron Payne, big man Joffrey Lavergne and wing Anthony Morrow.
McDermott was originally drafted with the 11th pick in the 2014 draft.
The Thunder now sit seventh in the Western Conference standings after reaching the conference finals a year ago. Prior to his injury, he had been linked to early trade rumors involving Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay. From his first to his last day with the Bulls, Taj's attitude was always true. He's a defensive gem, though the other end of the court is a work in painful progress - of the 57 games this season, he's had 13 with 10 or more points; he's averaging 30 minutes a game, and just 6.6 points. If the Bulls can head into April around.500, they should be in position to make a strong closing run with a pair of matchups against the NBA's worst team, Brooklyn, along with games against the Pelicans, Knicks, 76ers and Magic to close out the regular season.
Payne's had an rough season so far, averaging just five points and two assists on 33 percent shooting in the 20 games he's played after fracturing his right foot before training camp. The Bulls will look to second-year colt Bobby Portis to learn on the fly in Taj's absence, in the great Chicago tradition of both Gibson and 1987 Jerry Krause draftee Horace Grant. It was likely he wasn't going to do so again for the Bulls sake, and at 31 years old rightfully realizing this is his last chance at a huge free agent contract. The Thunder were extremely high on the talent of Payne, but found what they needed in this deal. He was also making 37.6 percent of his shots from 3-point range.
So why did the Bulls trade McDermott and Gibson and a second-round pick for Payne? If not, then the Bulls basically gave away McDermott and Gibson, two key players, for basically nothing.
It makes the most sense for Billy Donovan to slot Gibson into the starting lineup, but even if he doesn't, Gibson will log heavy minutes on a nightly basis and undoubtedly helps improve the OKC roster.