The Bulls finally made a move and the Thunder upgraded for their playoff run Thursday. Multiple outlets report that the Bulls have traded longtime power forward Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, along with a second-round pick, to the Oklahoma City Thunder for guards Cameron Payne and Anthony Morrow and forward Joffrey Lauvergne.
Sources: OKC and Chicago are nearing agreement on a trade to send package centered on Cameron Payne for Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 23, 2017
Bulls sending Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and 2018 2nd rounder to OKC for Joffrey Lauvergne and Cameron Payne, sources said.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) February 23, 2017
The Bulls have basically gone all in on Payne. Giving up Gibson and McDermott, along with a pick, to get two bit players and Payne is a massive reach. The Thunder are getting a quality defender and a shooter, without giving up anything significant. It’s a big-time move, as they set up a great combination of veterans and young guys. It’s a win for OKC. Let’s grade the trade.
THUNDER RECEIVE FROM BULLS: Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, 2018 second-round pick
THUNDER SEND TO BULLS: Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow, Joffrey Lauvergne
Complete win for the Thunder. Gibson was the Bulls’ third-best player, a tough-as-nails power forward who rarely misses games, is a great defender and can hit the mid-range jumper. He’s a good rebounder and has a terrific attitude. He’s going to fit perfectly with Steven Adams and give Russell Westbrook a pick-and-pop threat, as he’s reliable out to 18 feet. OKC’s identity is defense, and it gets even better there with Gibson stepping into the starting lineup ahead of rookie Domantas Sabonis, who will be great eventually but is too young for playoff crunch time.
McDermott comes with a great reputation and is a 37.6 percent 3-point shooter. The move instantly helps OKC, the second-worst 3-point shooting team in the league, with spacing. The Thunder needed a knock-down shooter and McDermott brings that with size and athleticism.
And they got a pick. Just highway robbery.
The only question: The backup point guard spot. Semaj Christon is the guy right now, but he has had injury issues. We’ll see if OKC targets one of the buyout candidates or gets by with just playing Westbrook heavy minutes. Payne is good, but never was going to be able to play heavy minutes or justify a big salary behind Westbrook. This is the third backup guard the Thunder have groomed and then dealt for good return.
BULLS’ GRADE: D
The Bulls get a good player in Payne. Had they done Gibson for Payne, it would have made sense. But they basically gave up Gibson and McDermott and a pick for Payne. Morrow has been unable to earn playing time in his past few stops. Lauvergne is a bit player. Payne shoots 30.8 percent from deep, and is joining the league’s worst 3-point shooting team, a team that just gave up McDermott’s 37.8 percent -- making their spacing worse.
Gibson has been underpaid and underappreciated for years. They could have received more in past years, but dealt him this season, along with a good young shooter, and a pick, for a backup point guard to whom they’ll have to commit big money after making the Rajon Rondo deal. This doesn’t help much short or long-term, and they failed to couple it with significant changes to kick-start a rebuild.
Not a good day for Chicago.