Chicago Bulls' Payne sits out with foot injury
While Rajon Rondo got his second straight start Wednesday, the Chicago Bulls' point guard rotation endured another change.
Cameron Payne, who backed up Rondo during Monday's win at Charlotte, was scratched from the Memphis game due to a sore right foot.
"Honestly, I'm just day to day," Payne said before the game. "I felt like if it's the playoffs, I'm playing for sure. I'm playing no matter what. But right now I don't want to break it. So if it's irritating me a little bit, might as well take a step back. No need to push it hard."
A right-foot injury is cause for concern. Payne suffered two injuries to the same foot last summer, which kept him off the floor until Jan. 7 this season.
The problem began late last season when he played for Oklahoma City. Payne experienced pain in the right foot and often wore a walking boot when he wasn't playing, according to ESPN. He played for the Thunder's summer-league entry, but when the pain lingered, he had surgery in late July to repair a stress fracture.
Then early in training camp, he had a recurrence of the injury. Payne did not have a second surgery and said it was a freak accident where a misstep aggravated the screw that had been inserted in the bone.
On Wednesday, Payne suggested this setback was part of the recovery process. He has played and practiced more since being traded to the Bulls on Feb. 23 than he had been with the Thunder. He also has been asked to do extra work on days off to help learn the offense.
"I really haven't got this much work on the court with it since I got the surgery. This is my first time feeling this," Payne said. "I've been playing a lot of heavy loads, playing a lot, practicing a lot, constantly. I actually got my first day off (Tuesday). So I feel like it's just constant playing. I just need to take a little time off it."
Michael Carter-Williams was the first point guard off the bench Wednesday.
Hoiberg wants more from less:
Cameron Payne's foot injury caused a change in the playing rotation, but Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is still hoping to use fewer players during this final stretch of the regular season.
"Obviously consistency with the rotation is something that we're going to strive for here the rest of the season," Hoiberg told reporters after Wednesday's shootaround. "I think you saw that in the game against Charlotte where we basically played nine. Joffrey (Lauvergne) came in when Cris (Felicio) picked up his 3 fouls.
"So that's the plan. There could some circumstances that get a couple guys in there from time to time. The plan is to tighten things up here in this last 16 and hopefully make a (playoff) push."
Payne's first nine games:
It's probably too soon to assess Cameron Payne's play after just nine games with the Bulls. Before Wednesday's contest, he evaluated his performance so far.
"I think I've played all right," he said. "It's been hard trying to get adjusted, but I've been playing all right, on and off. I've had a lot of turnovers, which I've got to clean up. But I feel like it's just getting used to playing with the guys I'm playing with. I'll definitely play better."
Payne has shot just 34 percent since joining the Bulls, 33 percent from 3-point range.
"I'm just trying to float the offense," he said. "It's not just about putting up shots for me. I'm not going to pass up an open shot at all, because I feel like that would hurt the offense. If it's an extra pass or a shot, you've got to take it."