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Bulls sign Onuralp Bitim, roster check in and addressing Christian Wood rumors

Will Gottlieb Avatar
July 21, 2023

The Bulls have locked in their third and final two-way spot, signing Turkish wing Onuralp Bitim Friday morning.

Though he was rumored to be signing with the Bulls after the draft, Bitim worked out with the Rockets ahead of Summer League. He was not on their Summer League roster.

Now, the 24-year-old wing signs with the Bulls on a two-way deal.

Bitim is a 6’6″ wing who played for Bursaspor in the Turkish Basketball League last season. In 30 regular season games, Bitim averaged 18.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists while shooting 47.7 percent from the field, 40.9 percent on 6.9 threes per game and 68.7 percent from the line (though he is a 74 percent career free throw shooter).

Bitim also played in the EuroCup Tournament where he was named to the All-EuroCup Second Team after averaging 17.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists while shooting 42.7 percent from the field, 32.1 percent from three and 76.2 percent from the line in his 17 games.

Old friend Jerian Grant was named EuroCup MVP and named to the All-EuroCup First Team.

Having only watched some YouTube highlights, it’s hard to say what kind of impact Bitim will have, if any, on the Bulls next season. He’s got some creation and scoring juice, shoots it well and has some athletic pop, but we have no idea what any of that will look like against high-end NBA talent.

The EuroCup is an especially touted tournament with many former NBA players belonging to competing clubs. Bitim’s output was steady from his regular season Turkish League to the EuroCup, though the scoring efficiency dropped way down.

Bitim is a fine signing. He’s young and clearly talented. He’s a perfectly good player to take a shot on with the third two-way deal. I’m not sure I have much more of a take than that.

As it stands, and these things can change, the Bulls now have all three of their two-way spots filled. Justin Lewis and Adama Sanogo being the other two.

As the roster stands

As for the rest of the roster, there are technically two spots available, with Ayo Dosunmu’s qualifying offer hanging over everything.

The Bulls are past the date where they can remove the QO they extended to Dosunmu, but that doesn’t mean he is guaranteed to return. The Bulls could work out a sign-and-trade with another team or let him walk if he does get an offer.

If the Bulls were to lose Dosunmu for nothing, and waive Carlik Jones’ non-guaranteed deal, they would have three spots and roughly $10.6 million remaining before touching the luxury tax threshold.

If they keep both, Dosunmu on the $5.2 million QO and Jones on his minimum deal, they are down to 1.7 million below the luxury tax with one roster spot to fill.

The Bulls could exceed the luxury tax for just the second time in franchise history. If they want to do so, they are capped at the $175 million first apron, having used more than $5 million of their mid-level exception on Jevon Carter.

If they go into the luxury tax, they would be able to use one or multiple of their remaining MLE ($6.2 million), the bi-annual exception ($4.5 million) and the disabled player exception they were awarded ($10.2 million).

There are a variety of ways they can use the DPE should they decide to.

Rumor Mill

Of course, the Bulls have recently been linked to free agents Christian Wood and Rudy Gay. They also have Summer League star Javon Freeman-Liberty as an option for one of their final big league roster spots.

Quick aside on Wood: I don’t really get it. He’s a good player who can score and shoot at a high level, but has not been able to find a home for more than two seasons in his career. He’s a liability defensively. I don’t have a problem with the Bulls bringing him in, but the idea that they need to give him the full $10.2 million DPE seems outrageous.

Most importantly, Wood has been available all of free agency. No one has been willing to give him anything, at least in the range of what he’s willing to take. If they’re going to sign him, cool! But why do they need to outbid the non-existent market for him when that was such a fatal flaw in the Vucevic deal. Seems pretty contradictory.

Depending on how the Dosunmu and Jones contracts shake out, the Bulls have some flexibility to add some more depth, injury insulation, youth and upside or veteran leadership.

Or all of the above.

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