Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow practiced as Bulls for the first time Monday, and coach Fred Hoiberg said Payne worked with both the starting and reserve units.
Previously, Hoiberg had said Payne — the centerpiece of Thursday's trade with the Thunder from the Bulls' perspective — would have an increased role moving forward.
"He's a guy who you can tell has a very high basketball IQ," Hoiberg said. "He has learned very quickly."
Payne's increased role will further clutter the already crowded point guard situation, although Michael Carter-Williams will miss his second straight game Tuesday with patellar tendinitis. The Bulls have discussed waiving one of their five point guards and have until Wednesday to do so for the player to be playoff-eligible with another team.
Carter-Williams' injury, which the Bulls haven't set a timetable for, could require a prolonged absence and derail any plans to waive a guard. Luis Scola is an intriguing option who unexpectedly became available after the Nets waived him, although the Bulls are committed to Bobby Portis at power forward.
Hoiberg said Carter-Williams' "knee is still pretty sore," although he did some treadmill work Monday. Paul Zipser also will miss Tuesday's game against the Nuggets because of a left ankle injury.
Reserve raves: The bench is averaging 49.3 points during the Bulls' four-game winning streak. Nikola Mirotic has averaged 17 points in his first two games back from a back injury.
"Niko has hit shots," Hoiberg said. "That's very important that we get that production off that bench. Our young guys are going to get opportunities.
"Denzel (Valentine) has taken full advantage of that. Cam, for his first opportunity to play, I thought was very good. He made simple plays and a positive impact. Cris (Felicio) has been in the rotation. Zipser, when he gets back, has shown he can play quality minutes and finish games for us. So our young guys have grown."
Guarded optimism: Hoiberg has been force-feeding Payne the offense, and the second-year point guard likes the freedom inherent in it.
"It's a little more laid-back," Payne said. "You can just play. It's really free. It's all about making decisions, and Coach does a good job of putting everybody in good positions to do what we need to do."
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