Just minutes before the NBA trade deadline bell rang, the Chicago Bulls pulled off a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, sending Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, and their 2018 2nd round pick to OKC for Joffrey Lauvergne, Cameron Payne, and Anthony Morrow.
Confirming others: Bulls trade McDermott, Gibson and possible '18 2nd round pick to Thunder for Lauvergne, Payne and Morrow.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 23, 2017
After much speculation of the Bulls being in conversation with the Celtics about a possible blockbuster Jimmy Butler trade, the talks never picked up steam. There also were reports of the Bulls getting rid of Niko Mirotic, who’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but Chicago could not find a suitor.
So what did the Bulls do? What they do best, of course; leave their fans in dismay.
Getting rid of Taj’s expiring contract was understandable, seemingly learning from their mistake after not trading Pau Gasol and letting him walk for nothing in return after at the end of last season. But Doug McDermott? Don’t get me wrong. Doug wasn’t playing up to what the Bulls thought he’d be, with confidence being his biggest obstacle as to why (which could arguably be due to a lack of development from coaching). But, wait a second. Didn’t the Bulls management team of Gar Forman and John Paxson give up three draft picks (two 1st rounders, one 2nd) just to move up in the draft to snag McDermott (hint: the answer is yes)? If that doesn’t hurt fans enough, the second round pick given up in today’s trade should be the twist of the knife.
Enough about what the Bulls gave up. Let’s analyze what they got in return. The “best” player the Bulls received in this trade is 22-year old Cameron Payne, who is a good perimeter defender, also owns a 6.1 PER, which ranks 90th among active point guards in the league. Not to mention, he’s shooting a dismal 30% from the beyond the arc this season. Needless to say, he fits right in with the Bulls who are already a team that struggle shooting the ball. Then we have Anthony Morrow, who is 31 and is on the down-end of his career. Known as a shooter (41% career 3P%), he’s also struggled in OKC this year, shooting just under 30% from three, adding to the miserable cast of shooter already on Chicago’s squad. Last but not least, Joffrey Lauvergne, who may be Niko’s replacement in the lineup as the stretch-4. While Lauvergne is the best shooter out of the trio received in the trade, he’s also the worst defender (not even serviceable at that end of the floor, I might add).
With all of this said, there are reasons to believe the Bulls are losers post-trade deadline, which may or may not be surprising to fans of this organization. This deal makes it clear that the duo known as “GarPax” either don’t care about the product on the basketball court now or in the future, or they flat out don’t know how to produce winners on the basketball court. Maybe both. If anything is for sure, it’s that Gar Forman and John Paxon have to go.
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