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Cameron Payne was the Bulls' trade deadline centerpiece. Now he's being sent to the D-League.

Payne is rehabbing a minor injury, but there’s more going on here than meets the eye.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Payne has been sent down to the D-League by the Chicago Bulls. While the move was ostensibly made to rehab a minor foot injury that kept Payne out for three games, it might be more accurate to view it as a telling indictment on a trade Chicago made just one month ago.

Payne will practice with the Windy City Bulls while playing in their games on Tuesday and Wednesday, after which he will be evaluated and potentially called back up. But spending two rehab games in the D-League after missing only three games isn’t normal, and there’s a strong argument that Payne should stay there, something SB Nation’s Blog a Bull thinks should happen. Here’s Jason Patt:

Bulls brass is high on Cameron Payne, which is why he was the “centerpiece” of the deal that sent out Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and a second-round pick. The front office sees him as a potential point guard of the future, and perhaps one day he’ll be just that.

The problem is right now he’s awful and shouldn’t be getting minutes on a team that’s trying to make the playoffs (I think?) when there are better options available. He should be getting minutes in the D-League.

That’s about right. Payne is only 22 years old, and it’s premature to project him as a bust. But it is fair to say he has been overwhelmed in his nine games played in Chicago since the trade, as he’s averaging 15 minutes, six points, and more turnovers (1.7) than assists (1.4) on 34 percent overall shooting.

When they made the trade, the Bulls front office talked about how high they were on Payne.

“We think Cam Payne is a guy who can take some of the ball-handling role off Jimmy,” John Paxson, the Bulls’ vice president of basketball operations, told media after the trade. “He can run a team and do some things that way.”

Paxson also said they liked him headed into the 2015 draft, where Payne was a 14th overall selection by Chicago.

“We got all the things we needed to do medically and we're pretty confident about it,” Paxson said. “When Cam came out in the draft, we were very, very high on him. We had some real good discussion about even trying to get him in that draft. We see him as a young guy who will develop and get better.”

However, if Payne pans out, it’ll still take some time. And with a logjam of guards in Chicago’s backcourt, maybe keeping Payne down in the D-League is the best-case scenario for him at this exact moment.