“Onuralp Bitim, who went to work out for NBA teams, was very successful in Chicago Bulls and gained the attention of the club,” reads the Google translated version of a report from Turkish outlet, Basketfoul on June 23. “Onuralp Bitim, who is hopeful for the contract, feels [a] two-way contract from Chicago…if he accepts.”
He should participate in the G League and will represent Turkey in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Bitim also worked out for the San Antonio Spurs and Bulls head coach Billy Donovan’s former team the Oklahoma City Thunder. And BasketNews reports that EuroLeague teams Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul have shown interest in him.
He averaged 18.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists this season for Frutti Extra Bursa. He also has good size at 6-foot-5, is only 24 years old, and averaged 1.2 steals per game. But, perhaps most importantly, Bitim shot 40.9% on 6.9 threes per game this year – key for a Bulls team that ranked 30th in three-pointers taken and made in 2022-23.
Bitim would be the second of the Bulls’ three allotted two-way contract slots for this coming season under the new collective bargaining agreement.
Bulls Add National Champion
The Bulls’ first two-way slot went to big man, Adama Sanogo, the leading scorer on the 2023 NCAA champion UConn Huskies averaging 17.2 points adding 7.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists falling just shy of 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game.
He too can space the floor, knocking down 36.5% of his looks, albeit on just 1.3 attempts.
Sanogo was the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and showed steady improvement throughout his career.
Lewis was a priority undrafted free agent in 2022 while the Bulls picked up Taylor in February after the Indiana Pacers waived him but he only saw action in five contests averaging 4.0 points and 1.6 boards in just over 7.0 minutes per game. It will be interesting to see which – if either – of Lewis or Taylor gets the third two-way contract.
Sanogo in particular could also mean an even tougher path to any minutes for Marko Simonovic who, going into his fourth season since being drafted and two seasons since coming overseas, has appeared in just 16 games.
Bulls Adding Youth to Aging Roster
The Bulls were just outside the top-third in oldest averaged age by a team in the NBA this past season, ranking 12 at 26.7 years old, per RealGM.
A couple of those aging players are at or near the end of their contracts and, even with the likes of Nikola Vucevic being in talks for a new contract, the Bulls have to plan for the future which means stockpiling developmental talent. Without a first-round pick in two of the last three drafts, their work in the undrafted free-agent market could pay dividends down the road.
It is hard to see these players cracking head coach Billy Donovan’s rotation enough to make a significant impact this season. But surprises happen every season and the Bulls’ future could become the focus if next season goes off the rails.