Bulls point guard Cameron Payne is set to make his season debut Thursday against the 76ers after foot surgery sidelined him for nearly two-thirds of the season. He’ll back up Kris Dunn.
Payne, 23, who had a second surgery on his right foot in September, played three games with the Windy City Bulls before he was recalled last week.
He showed some promise, averaging 21 points, four assists and four rebounds with the Bulls’ G League affiliate, but he still has a lot to prove.
Once considered general manager Gar Forman’s “point guard of the future,” Payne only shot 33.3 percent from the field in the 11 games he played for the Bulls last season.
He didn’t look great in the 2017 Summer League, either, going 9-for-26 with seven turnovers in two games before leaving prematurely for personal reasons.
Coach Fred Hoiberg said he wants to see Payne play with confidence but stressed that it’ll take him time to get his conditioning back.
Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said he has high expectations for Payne, who is the last remaining piece of the Taj Gibson/Doug McDermott trade to the Thunder.
“We want to see him as a point guard, especially when you’re running with that second unit the way Fred wants to play,” Paxson said Tuesday. “His role is to get us into the offense quickly, efficiently and to make the right play with the ball. You don’t want to be a high-turnover guy.”
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