Bulls’ Rookie Swingman Sends Message After Visiting Team Facilities

Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls took the international route to fill one of their three two-way contract slots, inking Turkish swingman Onuralp Bitim who made his way to the Bulls’ practice facilities at the Advocate Center on September 1. During his visit, Bitim got some shots up and the Bulls’ social media team sent out a video message on X introducing him.

“Hey, Chicago fans, it’s Onuralp,” Bitim said in the initial video. “I am very excited to be a part of the Chicago Bulls.”

He later quoted that post on X with another message.

“I am here, I am happy, and you can call me OB,” Bitim exclaimed in his second message, essentially echoing the sentiments of the first.

Bitim, 24, arrives after averaging 18.4 points while shooting 40.9% from beyond the arc for Buraspor Frutti Extra in the BSL. He joins a Bulls team that ranked 29th in the NBA in three-point attempt rate last season, perhaps presenting a path to minutes with the big club next season.

He struggled in his last outing, an 84-71 loss in a friendly match between Turkey and Croatia on August 20, going 1-for-4 from beyond the arc en route to six points, though he did snag seven rebounds and dish out three assists.

Despite being known as a sharpshooter, Bitim is also a good athlete.

Bulls Add More Bounce With Onuralp Bitim

The 6-foot-6 swingman jumped over three people in his winning effort as the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest champion in the BSL All-Star Game and still shows that bounce.

Chicago lost uber-athletic forward Derrick Jones Jr. to the Dallas Mavericks in free agency this offseason. Bitim might not be quite the level of athlete that Jones is but he adds another above-the-rim player with Zach LaVine.

Chicago also added Julian Phillips with the No. 35 overall pick in the draft.

Phillps had the highest recorded standing vertical leap at this year’s combine in Chicago. He and Bitim inject some athleticism into the roster but neither figures to have a major role right out of the gate with the Bulls already at a full 15-man roster.

That includes Phillips but, as we saw with No. 18 overall pick Dalen Terry last season, head coach Billy Donovan is slow to trust a rookie unless they earn it like Ayo Dosunmu in 2021-22.

Bulls’ Roster Ripe for a Blockbuster Trade

Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic believes the Bulls are positioning themselves for a “seat at the table” in the event Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo demands a trade or opts out of his contract after the 2024-25 season. Mayberry notes that the Bulls have increased the number of mid-tiered contracts that are usually used in trades.

By that measure, the Bulls could be set up for any number of blockbuster trades.

They can consolidate some of those contracts for a big splash to land a superstar like Antetokounmpo or they can pivot, trading their top talent for prospects and draft capital.

The Bulls have been gauging trade interest in DeMar DeRozan and, even more, Zach LaVine this offseason. Nothing has happened, and general manager Marc Eversley noted that he wants DeRozan back next season.

At any rate, the Bulls have choices again as they also regain control of most of their draft picks.

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