Former 1st-Round Pick Cameron Payne Waived by Bulls

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 04:  Cameron Payne #22 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles the ball against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 4, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  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.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls waived veteran point guard Cameron Payne, the team announced Thursday.

Payne averaged 5.7 points and 2.7 assists in 31 games for Chicago this season. He also shot 41.1 percent from the field and 27.1 percent from beyond the arc.

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Payne 14th overall in the 2015 draft. He spent a season-and-a-half in Oklahoma City before being traded to Chicago. Suffice to say, the move proved to be a bust for the Bulls.

At the time, the team already had Rajon Rondo and Jerian Grant, the latter of whom was only 24 and serviceable in a backup role. The Bulls weren't in need of another young point guard. The following offseason, Chicago acquired Kris Dunn as part of the Jimmy Butler trade, which pushed Payne further down the pecking order even before he underwent foot surgery in September 2017.

The Bulls had little reason to keep Payne on the roster. He's eligible for restricted free agency in the summer, and the presence of Dunn and Ryan Arcidiacono offered a strong incentive to let Payne walk as a free agent.

Now, Chicago can focus more of its energy on Arcidiacono and fellow second-year guard Shaquille Harrison.

Payne, meanwhile, can get a change of scenery, though his poor numbers with the Bulls will likely limit his options. Teams generally have their rosters set by this point in the season and might need to make a corresponding move in order to sign him.

Payne may benefit from an extended run in the NBA G League, where he can play more regularly and bide his time until an opportunity comes available. At 24, it's too early to write off his chances of becoming a solid reserve in the NBA.

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