However, one ripple effect is it likely closes the door on Javon Freeman-Liberty.
“Bitim fills the Bulls’ final two-way contract slot, joining previously signed Justin Lewis and Adama Sanogo,” wrote NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson. “That means Terry Taylor, who signed a two-way contract last season, is currently on the outside looking in, as is NBA Summer League standout Javon Freeman-Liberty.”
Freeman-Liberty, 23, who spent last year playing for the Bulls G League affiliate, the Wind City Bulls, averaged 21.2 points on 49.3% shooting overall and 46.2% from beyond the arc during Summer League in Las Vegas play earning All-Summer League honors.
Unfortunately, it appears that is where his story will end for now as far as a Bulls contract.
Chicago does have two open roster spots since 14th-man Carlik Jones’ $1.9 million salary doesn’t become partially guaranteed until opening night and fully guaranteed on January 10, per Spotract, leaving some wiggle room to perhaps finesse Freeman-Liberty onto the roster.
But they are extremely guard-heavy now that they re-signed Ayo Dosunmu to join Jevon Carter and rejoin Alex Caruso, Zach LaVine, and Coby White in the backcourt. With a similar build to Freeman-Liberty, if Bitim’s signing started closing the door on the former DePaul standout, Dosunmu’s re-signing all but slammed it shut.
The Bulls signed Taylor, 23, off waivers from the Indiana Pacers late in the season and he suited up for just five games.
A 6-foot-5 forward, he averaged 4.0 points and 1.6 rebounds with the Bulls.
Onuralp Bitim Adds Sharpshooter to Bulls’ Pipeline
Bitim, 24, is a 6-foot-6 sharpshooter who knocked down 40.9% of his triples for Frutti Extra Bursaspor in the Turkish Basketball league but did only connect on 32.1% of his threes across 17 games of World Cup play.
He is a 37.1% shooter from deep for his career and comes with over four years of professional experience both in league play and the international stage.
It’s unclear what the Bulls’ long-term plans are for Bitim who also plays a crowded position. He joins starters LaVine and DeMar DeRozan as well as utility players, Caruso and Dosunmu and could have to contend with free agent addition Torrey Craig who can man any spot 3-through-5 (situationally).
The Bulls ranked 30th in three-pointers taken this past season, ranking 16th in efficiency. Bitim should help with that — he averaged 6.9 threes per game this past season — at some point. But given the makeup of this roster, it’s anyone’s guess when that will be.
Bulls Need to Add Size
“Their next signing almost certainly will be a frontcourt signing,” wrote NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson following the news that Dosunmu had resigned.
As it stands, Chicago has filled 11 of its 14 guaranteed slots with players whose primary position is either at guard or on the wing. Their only two centers are starter Nikola Vucevic and backup Andre Drummond while their only power forwards are Craig and fourth-year man Patrick Williams both of whom are listed at 6-foot-7.
It’s a similar issue to last offseason and the Bulls simply went with it.
The results were what they were — a 40-42 finish to the regular season and no playoffs despite being relatively healthy all season long. Teams cannot count on health so the Bulls have to hope they’ve filled in the gaps in other areas enough that size and depth don’t become an issue.