The Chicago Bulls are sending Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 2nd round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow and Joffrey Lauvergne.
There is always plenty of talk surrounding the Chicago Bulls and the trade market in the days leading up to the deadline. But the front office is known for not making deals. Well this time, they finally got one done.
Taj Gibson has spent all of his eight seasons in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls. He is averaging 11.6 points and 7.0 rebounds in 55 starts this season.
Back in 2014, the Chicago Bulls made a deal on draft night to acquire Doug McDermott. The Bulls traded two first round picks and 3 second rounders to make it happen. Now, after two and a half seasons in Chicago, McDermott is on his way to Oklahoma City.
McDermott just never turned into the player the Bulls thought they drafted. After only averaging 8.9 minutes a game his rookie campaign, McDermott quickly became a role player under Fred Hoiberg. His ability to shoot the outside shot was never a question but the focus was if he would be able to be efficient on the defensive end. Unfortunately for the Bulls, McDermott made little progression on the other end of the floor. And over time, especially this season, he just did not seem to be a good fit for the Bulls going forward. With him off to OKC, it opens up room in the rotation for 2016 first round pick Denzel Valentine to get quality minutes.
Gibson was a fan favorite, a leader, and a great locker room guy. His whole career Gibson has been loyal to the Chicago Bulls, and gave his best effort night in and night out for his teammates. His departure will lead to a big hole in the lineup, which will mean guys like Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic will have to step up.
It makes a lot of sense to move Taj Gibson. His contract was up at the end of the season and while the Bulls may have liked to re-sign him, it was unlikely he would have come signed with the Bulls. With the NBA salary cap continuing to rise, there is going to be a lot of money available in free agency. And a guy like Gibson is going to search for a very substantial deal, something the Bulls were not going to entertain. If Gar Forman wants to get younger and more athletic, paying Gibson a lot of money would make no sense.
In exchange, the Bulls welcome Cameron Payne, the 14th overall pick in 2015. Payne has only averaged 5.1 points and 1.9 assists per game in 77 games over two season with the Thunder. Payne never saw significant time since he was behind Russell Westbrook but the Thunder speak highly of him. Payne will now have the chance to get significant minutes and show what he can do.
The Bulls front office is “very high” on Payne according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Gar Forman later told the media that, “I think he’s got a real feel for the game.”
For the other two players the Bulls acquired in the deal, Anthony Morrow is a career 41.7 percent 3 point shooter. Joffrey Lauvergne is averaging 5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 50 games for the Thunder this season. Morrow’s contract expires at the end of this year. Lauvergne will be a restricted free agent after the season.
In regards to lineup changes, Bobby Portis looks to be the starting PF and may hold that role for the remainder of the season. Cameron Payne is going to get significant minutes at the point guard position, making the rotation a big question mark. Fred Hoiberg’s rotation has not been consistent this season. Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams have had their own share of going from the starter to not playing at all. And with Rajon Rondo still in the mix off then bench, it’s going to be very interesting to see what Hoiberg distributes minutes among the group of point guards.
The Chicago Bulls begin the second half of the season on Friday at the United Center vs. Phoenix.
You can follow Thomas Gibbons on Twitter: @ThomasGibbons_3.