(CBS) Less than a half-hour before Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline, the Bulls shook up their roster with a notable five-player deal.
Chicago dealt power forward Taj Gibson, wing Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick to Oklahoma City, receiving point guard Cameron Payne, big man Joffrey Lauvergne and wing Anthony Morrow in return. The Bulls were motivated to move Gibson because he’ll turn 32 just before entering unrestricted free agency this season, and in Payne, they get a young player whom they can wield contract control over for several years.
The 22-year-old Payne, the 14th pick in the 2015 draft, is averaging 5.3 points in 16.0 minutes per game this season. He figures to get the chance to be the Bulls’ point guard of the future, though he’s struggled with his shot this season, shooting 33.1 percent overall and 30.8 percent on 3-pointers. His playing time was limited in large part because he played behind star Russell Westbrook.
Payne is under contract control through 2018-’19, after which the Bulls will have rights to sign him to an extension.
Gibson was the last remaining member of the 2010-’11 Bulls team that broke onto the scene with a 62-win season and trip to the Eastern Conference final. The departure of Gibson wasn’t unexpected given his age and contract situation, but it’s nonetheless another sign of a shift from the Bulls, who have hovered around .500 most of the season while trying to develop younger players around a smaller core of veterans.
Highly respected by teammates and foes alike across the NBA, Gibson had been at the center of trade rumors for several years. He always took it in stride, as recent comments of his reflected.
“No matter what happens, you’re still in the NBA,” Gibson told CSNChicago.com of a potential trade. “You’re still getting paid a lot of money to play basketball. People don’t understand that. They think it’s bad half the time. No, it’s not. It’s the same paycheck, just on a different team.”
Gibson is averaging 11.6 points and 7.0 rebounds in 55 games this season. He’s shooting 52.1 percent, the second-best mark of his career.
Gibson has spent his entire eight-year career in Chicago. He was 10th in franchise history in games played.
The 25-year-old McDermott is averaging 10.2 points while shooting 37.6 percent on 3-pointers this season. The Thunder sought him for his shooting ability.
On draft night in 2014, the Bulls traded two first-round picks to the Nuggets to move up to No. 11 overall to select McDermott. By the time all the maneuvering was done, Chicago had also parted with three second-round picks.
The 25-year-old Lauvergne is averaging 5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game. He’s set to enter restricted free agency this summer. He was a second-round pick in 2013.
Known for his shooting prowess, the 31-year-old Morrow is averaging 5.8 points in 15.7 minutes per game. He’s a career 41.7-percent 3-point shooter. Morrow will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.