The Chicago Bulls filled their recently vacated two-way contract slot.
“The team has signed forward Justin Lewis to a two-way contract,” says a release on the Bulls’ official website. “In accordance with team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.”
Lewis is a 6-foot-7 rookie from Marquette who originally signed with the Bulls as an undrafted free agent. He was considered among the top undrafted rookies available with some surprise in league circles that he did not at least find his way into the second round. Offering a blend of size and skill unique to this roster, an injury left him unable to impress this past summer.
A Baltimore native, the Bulls’ release notes that Lewis averaged 16.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.1 steals while logging 32 starts as a sophomore en route to being named the Big East Most Improved Player and earning All-Big East First Team honors.
Lewis finished second in the conference in defensive rebounds and third in points.
He tore his ACL during a private workout away from the team and was ruled out for the season costing him his initial two-way slot. Lewis was released from that deal in favor of project forward Kostas Antetokounmpo who signed on October 14, the younger brother of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo who caught the eye of Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arutras Karnisovas while playing overseas.
The younger Antetokounmpo was waived on December 16 to make space for Jones
Antetokounmpo, Jones, Lewis, and swingman Malcolm Hill were all vying for the two-way slots during the preseason with Lewis’ spot seemingly secured before his injury. Chicago would sign Hill to one of the slots but he was waived on February 21 to make way for Terry Taylor, formerly of the Indiana Pacers.
A Winding Road for Justin Lewis
Lewis’ path back to the Bulls was just as circuitous as his first stint.
Chicago converted point guard Carlik Jones’ two-way deal into a standard contract for the remainder of the season to fill the opening left when they waived Goran Dragic. Dragic, who has since signed with the rival Milwaukee Bucks, was let go to make room for Patrick Beverley.
The 20-year-old forward sent out a message to fans on his Instagram after suffering what he called a “minor setback” in his recovery.
And on he posted a video of himself doing squats with Bulls strength and conditioning coach Brian Serrano to his Instagram stories on March 6 with the caption “constant improvement”.
That the Bulls are bringing Lewis back could be seen as a sign he is back on the right track.
Bulls Needed Positive Injury News
The news of Lewis’ return is a welcomed sight for the Bulls who updated the status of injured forward Javonte Green who has not played since New Year’s Eve and underwent an arthroscopic knee debridement – the same procedure Lonzo Ball had – in January.
A press release from the team said that Green “continues to progress” with his rehab but adds that “There is currently no timetable for his return.
He is supposed to be re-evaluated in two weeks.
“We’ve been kind of at the same thing where I think the linear, straight-ahead running has been pretty good,” head coach Billy Donovan said of a player who had flirted with being a starter this season, per NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson. “But they’ve not been able to progress him yet to any lateral stuff.”
That is eerily and, for the Bulls, uncomfortably similar to the issues that Ball has encountered in his return from a torn meniscus that resulted in loose cartilage which caused debilitating pain and disrupted his day-to-day life.
Even after that debridement, however, Ball remains sidelined indefinitely.