Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott Traded to Thunder; Bulls Land Cameron Payne and More

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 12: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves fights for the position against Taj Gibson #22 and Doug McDermott #11 of the Chicago Bulls on February 12, 2017 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Sherman/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls have been searching to get younger and more versatile, and they made a move they hope will make that happen by trading Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Oklahoma City Thunder

Shams Charania of The Vertical first reported the deal was close and the Bulls will receive Cameron Payne from the Thunder. 

Charania added the Bulls will also get Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow from the Thunder, who will also receive a second-round pick in 2018 along with Gibson and McDermott. 

A rough-and-tumble low-post presence who has long made a living capitalizing on second-chance opportunities and chaos around the rim, Gibson was a perfect fit under defensive guru and former head coach Tom Thibodeau. 

However, things changed when new head coach Fred Hoiberg came on board, and Gibson struggled to adjust to a new role playing for the former Iowa State Cyclones boss. 

A year ago, Gibson averaged 8.6 points and 6.9 rebounds while playing 26.5 minutes per game—a good chunk of which came off the bench. However, he has been a far steadier contributor during the 2016-17 season. 

Fifty-five games into his second campaign under Hoiberg, Gibson is averaging 11.6 points, seven rebounds and 0.9 blocks while shooting 52.1 percent from the field. 

Taj Gibson's Production by Season
SeasonMPGPPGRPGBPGPER
2009-1026.99.07.51.313.8
2010-1121.87.15.71.314.3
2011-1220.47.75.31.316.9
2012-1322.48.05.31.414.4
2013-1428.713.06.81.416.0
2014-1527.310.36.41.216.1
2015-1626.58.66.91.115.7
2016-1727.311.67.00.915.8
Source: Basketball-Reference.com

The Thunder get a much-needed inside presence who can help bridge the gap until Enes Kanter is able to return without having to make a long-term financial commitment to Gibson.

According to Spotrac, Gibson is earning $8.9 million in the final year of his deal during the 2016-17 campaign before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. While that deal is hardly burdensome following the salary-cap spike,Bobby Portis is on a rookie deal that won't pay out more than $2.5 million in any of the next three seasons. 

He fills a need for the Thunder, as they have struggled to replace the production that Serge Ibaka once brought to the table at power forward. Gibson still has plenty of energy to offer, but it will likely come in spurts from here on out. The 31-year-old underwent offseason ankle surgery in 2015 and has been hampered by various lower-body ailments over the years—including a strained left foot that bothered him before the All-Star break a year ago.  

Gibson should be a good fit next to centers Steven Adams and Kanter, which will allow rookie Domantas Sabonis to come off the bench. He is nothing if not a team player, so he should have no problem fitting in as he claws for every rebound, fights for position in the restricted area and dives after loose balls. He will immediately become the team's No. 3 rebounder, and he will make OKC a much tougher team to compete against in the playoffs. 

McDermott gives the Thunder an outside shooter who can improve their 32.1 percent success rate from three-point range. He owns a 39.9 career three-point field goal percentage in 161 games with the Bulls. While he's limited defensively, his outside shooting should help the Thunder stretch the floor, and give them a bit more scoring punch coming off the bench. 

The Bulls got rid of a player in Gibson they weren't going to re-sign anyway, while adding young and cost-effective talents like Payne, Lauvergne and Morrow, who they don't have to pay a lot to if they want to get in play for marquee free agents during the offseason. 

Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless noted otherwise. 

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