The early returns have not been promising.
Chicago keeps shuffling Rajon Rondo, Michael Carter-Williams, Jerian Grant and now Payne at point guard. But, Payne after missing a few games with a right-foot injury, has fallen out of the rotation. Far out of the rotation.
Payne was dispatched to the Bulls’ D-League team in Hoffman Estates for the next couple days as the Bulls head to Toronto for a game against the Raptors.
“He’s going to practice with Windy City this afternoon and then he’ll play in tomorrow’s game,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “And then the plan is to see how things go with the game, practice with Windy City again on Wednesday and then play in the game on Thursday as well.”
The Bulls’ already-dreary offense has cratered with Payne in. He has shot poorly, turned the ball over too much and not gotten his teammates going.
Chicago – one game and two teams out of playoff position – can’t afford to ride out his growing pains.
After a somewhat promising rookie year behind Russell Westbrook, Payne has struggled since breaking his right foot twice last offseason. At what point to the Bulls worry they didn’t get the player they bargained for?
If Payne develops in the D-League and eventually becomes Chicago’s long-term starting point guard, great. Even if that doesn’t happen as quickly as hoped, this will be well worth it.
But this a pretty uninspiring signal.