Payne hoping for a successful return from foot surgery

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Cameron Payne is setting expectations high when he hits the floor with the Bulls for the first time this season on Thursday. The third-year point guard has been sidelined while recovering from foot surgery.

    Cameron Payne is setting expectations high when he hits the floor with the Bulls for the first time this season on Thursday. The third-year point guard has been sidelined while recovering from foot surgery. Associated press File photo

 
 
Updated 2/21/2018 7:09 PM

If the Bulls' plan is to lose as much as possible the rest of the way, Cameron Payne hasn't read the memo.

"Man, try to go 25-0," Payne said Wednesday when asked his goals for the remainder of the season. "I just want to win games, anything to help my team win."

 

Payne is expected to make his season debut Thursday against Philadelphia after recovering from foot surgery. Payne played in three games with the Windy City Bulls recently, but hasn't taken the floor in an NBA game since last April 21, when he made a brief appearance in Game 3 of the Boston playoff series.

Payne played in 11 regular-season games for the Bulls after being acquired from Oklahoma City in the trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder. The Bulls think Payne, the No. 14 pick of the 2015 draft, may have some value, but he hasn't shown much so far in the NBA. The 6-3 guard from Murray State missed the start of the 2016-17 season with an injury to the same foot.

"My foot feels pretty good. It was feeling real good (in the G League,)" he said. "All I can do is pray that it don't mess up again, that's about it."

As play resumes following the all-star break, the Bulls are going to give Payne the backup point guard minutes behind Kris Dunn and keep Jerian Grant sidelined. He's under contract for next season, but this is a great chance for Payne to prove he can contribute.

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"I feel like this scheme we've got going fits me perfectly," he said. "I like to play fast. In college, I played fast. OKC, we played real fast. Just (want to) come out and be a good playmaker, get my teammates involved and flow into the offense. Just play my game."

Felicio feels ready:

The Bulls obviously expected center Cristiano Felicio to play a significant role this season. Why else would they sign him to a four-year, $32-million contract last July?

But when the season began, starter Robin Lopez played well, coach Fred Hoiberg often used smaller lineups and Felicio's playing time dwindled to almost nothing. He's averaged 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds this season. He'll be the starter beginning Thursday against Philadelphia.

"It's a great opportunity," Felicio said Wednesday at the Advocate Center. "I feel pretty good about it. I've been ready since Day One. Now I have the chance to start the game and show what I've got and that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to fight every single minute I'm on the court and show them that I can be a starter in this league."

Holiday bides time:

After getting news that his playing time will go to younger players, Justin Holiday was asked if would have rather been traded than forced to sit and watch.

"That's tough to say. That's tough to say, 'What if?'" he said. "I wanted to come back to Chicago (last summer as a free agent). Sometimes things don't go the way you want it to. Doesn't mean it'll always be this way. Doesn't mean anything. They want to see the young guys play, that's understandable."

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