Oklahoma City Thunder acquire Taj Gibson in 5-player deal

NBA.com staff reports

The Thunder gave themselves a boost as they try to move up from the No. 7 seed in the West and out of the bottom 10 in offensive efficiency, upgrading at the power forward and wing positions.They now have a bruising frontline of Gibson and Steven Adams, one that will clean up a lot of Russell Westbrook’s missed shots.

Gibson will replace Domantas Sabonis in the OKC starting lineup. Sabonis should be a solid rotation player for a long time, but hasn’t given the Thunder much offensively in his first season. Gibson, meanwhile, has managed to average 11.6 points on 52 percent shooting in a starting lineup with poor spacing and a couple of heavy-usage wings.

McDermott gives the Thunder a little more offense off the bench beyond the pure shooting that they had with Morrow. They’ve been 12.0 points per 100 possessions worse offensively with Russell Westbrook off the floor (95.0) than with Westbrook on the floor (107.0), so getting some more punch off the bench is key. McDermott also gives the Thunder a shooter to complement Westbrook when defenses are ignoring Andre Roberson.

Time will tell how good the 22-year-old Payne is. He has a higher ceiling than any of the three point guards – Michael-Carter Williams, Jerian Grant and Rajon Rondo – that the Bulls already have and will have more of an opportunity to blossom now that he’s no longer playing behind Westbrook. But with the departure of Gibson, the Bulls have taken a step backward and should struggle to hold onto their playoff spot.

Morrow, Joffrey Lauvergne and a 2018 second-round pick will also head to Chicago in the reported deal.