With three full roster spots and a two-way contract left to fill, we’ve been anxiously awaiting news from the Chicago Bulls for over a week now. But I don’t think anyone expected this to happen, as the Bulls have reportedly gone overseas to sign their final two-way contract player with Onuralp Bitim.
Most recently, Bitim averaged 18.4 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 40.9% from deep (on an impressive volume of 6.9 attempts per game) across 30 games in Turkey’s premier basketball league. This was a strong follow-up to his EuroCup performance, where he averaged 17.9 points and 3.7 rebounds and led his team past the qualifying round and into the EuroCup tournament.
Unfortunately, he’d Bitim ran head-first into the eventual champions in Gran Canaria in the very first round. He’d post a game-high 22 points and keep things close down the wire, only losing 72-66 in the end. It’s no surprise then, that he managed to catch the eye of Bulls’ VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas.
This performance Bitim earned All-EuroCup Second Team honors alongside former NBA player Sam Dekker. Ironically, former Chicago Bull Jerian Grant was named the league’s MVP, so make of it what you will. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news of Bitim’s signing earlier this morning.
After adding Onuralp Bitim on a two-way contract, the Bulls have some very tough decisions to make.
Originally, the Bulls were expected to bring Terry Taylor back on a two-way contract. After all, they did make Taylor a qualifying offer at the onset of free agency. Instead, Bitim will be joining Justin Lewis and Adama Sanogo as Chicago’s three players on two-way contracts, meaning the remaining unsigned players will be counting on making the main roster if they wish to remain in the Windy City.
This news is particularly shocking, as Bitim stands 6-foot-6 and weighs in at 205 pounds. While he’s certainly large enough to fit in at any level of basketball, he’s not big enough to fulfill the Bulls’ desperate need for depth at power forward. What’s more, is he only converted on 32.1% of his three-point shots in the EuroCup, meaning he’s not even a sharpshooter off the bench worth counting on.
Not only is Terry Taylor almost certainly gone, this signing raises massive questions for the rest of the roster. Will Carlik Jones end up being waived after all? Has Javon Freeman-Liberty failed to convey his Summer League success into a spot on the roster? Do the Bulls truly intend to let Ayo Dosunmu leave in free agency?
We’ll just have to stay tuned to this story to find out, but something tells me things could get ugly here fast. With no depth at the forward and center positions, and the uncertain fate of three guards hanging in the balance, not everyone is going to walk away from this with a happy ending.