Onuralp Bitim

Bulls’ Onuralp Bitim Has Detached Retina, Out For Postseason

Onuralp Bitim‘s rookie season is over, according to the Bulls, who announced today in a press release that the Turkish wing will be unavailable for the rest of the postseason.

Bitim has been diagnosed with a detached retina in his right eye and will require season-ending surgery to address the injury, per the team.

Bitim just completed his first NBA season after playing professionally for several years in Turkey. He made the All-EuroCup Second Team for Bursaspor last season, averaging 18.1 points and 3.2 assists in 18 EuroCup contests, before agreeing to come stateside to join the Bulls.

The 25-year-old began the season on a two-way contract but was promoted to Chicago’s standard roster in February and began to see some action at the NBA level around that time.

After making his NBA debut on February 22, Bitim ultimately appeared in 22 total games for Chicago, averaging 3.6 points and 1.5 rebounds in 12.0 minutes per contest, with a shooting line of .381/.273/.800.

While he had a few impressive games in the second half, Bitim likely wouldn’t have seen much – if any – action for the Bulls in the postseason. Of course, Chicago’s postseason run may not extend beyond Wednesday, since the team faces a win-or-go-home play-in game vs. the Hawks.

Bitim’s contract features non-guaranteed minimum salaries for the next two seasons beyond this one, so Chicago will have the option of bringing him back at a team-friendly rate.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, McDermott, Sasser, Bitim

The rigors of a long season and the toll of injuries caught up with the Cavaliers Sunday night in Miami, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The Cavs looked “disinterested, distracted and exhausted,” according to Fedor, as they trailed by 21 points at halftime and fell behind by as many as 45 in the second half.

“We’ve asked these guys to do so much,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We have asked them to carry a burden of everybody having to do more because of all the injuries and the things we are going through. I think it just showed tonight. It caught up with us. I think mentally and physically, we are worn. It’s on us all to figure it out. No excuses. It doesn’t get any easier. I think tonight was one of those nights where collectively it just set in on us. It was uncharacteristic of this group. I think we had one of those nights.”

Cleveland welcomed back Evan Mobley, who played 21 minutes in his return from a left ankle sprain that had sidelined him since March 5. However, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus and Dean Wade all remain sidelined, and Bickerstaff pulled his starters early in the third quarter to save them for tonight’s second game of a back-to-back.

“These games happen in the NBA where you just get knocked out in the first half and you can never really get back up and start swinging,” Georges Niang said. “Nobody is going to feel bad for us because everybody has had to go through the same thing this year. You just have to have amnesia and flush this one. There is nothing that we can gain from this. Nobody likes getting beat like we just got beat. I think we will remember the feeling of what it felt like to get whooped and fight to never have that feeling again.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Doug McDermott has become a dangerous weapon for the Pacers since returning from a strained right calf that kept him out of action for nearly a month, observes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Over his last three games, McDermott is 9-of-15 from the floor and 5-of-11 from three-point range. “With shooting, there’s going to be some weird pockets every once in a while,” McDermott said. “I wasn’t shooting it great. I knew every time I shoot the ball it has a chance of going in. I just gotta have that belief and just keep firing away. These guys are so unselfish. They kept finding me. It will fall.”
  • Pistons rookie Marcus Sasser is a natural scorer who’s learning to play point guard in the NBA, per James L. Edwards of The Athletic. Sasser is shooting 44.1% from the field and 39.3% from three-point range, but at 6’1″ he needs to develop his play-making skills to fully unlock his game. “There’s a difference learning when to score, when to pass,” he said. “The main thing, right now, I’m just trying to get better in pick-and-rolls, to make the right reads. I feel like the scoring and stuff will come. It’s a learning experience for me.”
  • Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times examines whether Onuralp Bitim can develop into a Max Strus-type player for the Bulls.

Bulls Notes: Bitim, White, Phillips

Bulls rookie Onuralp Bitim has been a pleasant surprise, emerging in the rotation after having his contract converted from a two-way to a standard deal. He stood out with 10 points and six rebounds against Cleveland on Feb. 28 and scored 17 against Dallas on Monday. In a conversation with Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, Bitim said he tries to emulate the game of Manu Ginobili.

He’s a very rare talent, definitely,” Bitim said of Ginobili. “But I love his basketball IQ on offense, on defense, how he passed the ball, shot the ball, drove the ball. But, yeah, like you said, he’s definitely a rare talent.

Bitim is primarily known as a shooter, but he’s trying to stick in the league by showcasing other aspects of his game.

I was a very good scoring player in Europe and also a good pick-and-roll player,” Bitim said. “I know how to read defenses because that’s what they have been teaching us since a young age. That’s why I think a lot of European players in the NBA know how to read defenses and how to read the games because they’re teaching us at a young age. But right now, I’m trying to just help my team. Whatever they need. If I need to defend, I need to defend. If I need to shoot, I need to shoot. If I need to take a rebound, I need to do that.

Mayberry goes over a handful of other topics with Bitim, including his transition from Europe to the NBA and his early playing days.

We have more from the Bulls:

  • Coby White went through a tumultuous start to his career after being selected with the No. 7 pick in the 2019 draft, averaging 12.6 points per game through the first four years of his career, including a career-low 9.7 points last season. In need of a breakout season, White has delivered, increasing his scoring average to 19.5 PPG in his fifth year and becoming a frontrunner for Most Improved Player. SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell explores how White attacked this past summer, detailing his close work with trainer Johnny Stephene.
  • An MRI on White revealed a left hip strain, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) and the injury wasn’t as serious as it initially looked. According to Wojnarowski, White missed Thursday’s game, but could return to the lineup as soon as Saturday. NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson details how White, the NBA’s leader in minutes at 2,242, avoided a major injury and is day-to-day. “He was in some pretty significant pain right when it occurred and then he was in pain afterward,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “When you see a guy go down with that kind of force on top of him, you worry about this thing could be a lot worse. In some ways, we escaped a bullet there so to speak that it wasn’t something more significant or severe.
  • Rookie forward Julian Phillips missed Chicago’s Thursday game against the Clippers due to right foot soreness, according to Johnson (Twitter link). Phillips is averaging 4.1 points in his last eight games, including an 11-point outing against Dallas.

Central Notes: Wiseman, Sasser, Merrill, Bitim

The Pistons are still hoping reserve center James Wiseman can produce on a more consistent basis, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). During his first full season in Detroit, the seven-footer out of Memphis is averaging 5.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks across 40 appearances. The No. 2 pick in 2020 is now playing just 14.3 minutes per night for a 9-50 Pistons club.

“I just want him to be consistent,” head coach Monty Williams said. “The effort is always there. Communication in defense is improving. We love his presence in pick-and-rolls. We just want to see consistency.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Pistons rookie swingman Marcus Sasser, who’s dealing with a knee injury, is considered probable to suit up for today’s bout with the Magic, reports James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (via Twitter). Edwards notes that, should Sasser actually play, Detroit will field a completely healthy roster for the first time all season.
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com wonders if, after scoring 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting – all from long range – during a 110-100 victory over the Pistons on Friday, Cavaliers shooting guard Sam Merrill might have earned further consideration for legitimate rotation minutes. Merrill is already enjoying a career year with Cleveland. In 41 games this year, the Utah State product is averaging a career-best 7.8 PPG on a .435/.435/.917 shooting line, with career highs in rebounds (1.9) and assists (1.5) per game as well.
  • Bulls rookie shooting guard Onuralp Bitim has enjoyed a pair of solid games since being promoted from a two-way contract onto the injury-plagued club’s standard roster. He’s averaging 21.9 minutes across his last two contests and scoring 8.0 PPG on .455/.571/1.000 shooting, along with 5.0 RPG. As Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times details, the 24-year-old was a seasoned pro long before making his NBA debut with Chicago. The 6’6″ wing has been playing with Turkish clubs since he was 19. ‘‘Playing professionally since such a young age helped me a lot because, in the end, basketball is universal,’’ said Bitim, whose parents both suited up for professional Turkish teams. ‘‘[My mom] tells me that I got my IQ and vision from her… My dad says that the athleticism and other things are from him.’’

Central Notes: Stewart, Fontecchio, Bitim, White

Pistons forward Isaiah Stewart returned to action on Tuesday after serving a three-game NBA suspension for punching the Suns’ Drew Eubanks during a pre-game altercation. Stewart played 34 minutes and contributed 11 points and nine rebounds, along with providing a much-needed defensive presence. He’ll remain in the lineup going forward, coach Monty Williams said.

“We’re gonna run with these guys for a while and see if we get some synergy, especially on defense,” Williams told Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press.

Stewart offered an apology for losing his temper, Sankofa relays (Twitter links). “I always want to represent the organization in great fashion,” he said. “I apologized to my teammates and coaches because it’s been a tough season and I don’t want to bring anything upon them. And I’m glad they had my back.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Forward Simone Fontecchio joined the NBA last season by signing with the Jazz. Fontecchio, 28, felt it was a now-or-never opportunity after starring in Europe. He was acquired by the Pistons at this month’s trade deadline. “It was a no-brainer to be honest. Once you see that train passing you, you just want to catch it,” Fontecchio told James Edwards III of The Athletic. “I just thought, ‘It’s a three-year deal. I’m going to do everything I can to make this work. If it doesn’t, I’ll just go back to Europe. It’s OK. I tried my best.’ I’ve been putting in a lot of work the last two years. I’m thankful to be in the position that I am now.” He’ll be a restricted free agent after the season.
  • Bulls rookie Onuralp Bitim got extended playing time against Cleveland on Wednesday with Alex Caruso sidelined and made a favorable impression. Bitim scored the first 10 points of his NBA career and added six rebounds in 27 minutes, including all 10 minutes in the double-overtime triumph. “I really can’t describe how I feel. But it’s not about my English, even my own language,” Bitim, a native of Turkey, told K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I was dreaming of this moment for a really long time. And I was really trying to be ready and my teammates really helped me, my coaches. I knew the chance was going to come. You just never know when. You just have to be ready.” Bitim was promoted from a two-way deal to a multiyear standard contract on Sunday.
  • Coby White is having a breakout season, but the Bulls are concerned about their point guard burning himself out by putting in too much work, rather than pacing himself, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley. “You don’t want to lose that perspective, but there’s a point of how efficiently you can work with the time you have and developing the routine,” coach Billy Donovan said. “And we’ve talked to him a lot about it where, ‘Listen, coming in the gym and driving yourself into the ground is not always the solution or the answer.’ I would rather have a guy like Coby that’s willing to put the work in than a guy where you’re like, ‘Come on, let’s watch more film, let’s get in the gym.’ He’s never shied away from work. But I also think that when you’re coaching somebody, the routine has got to be theirs because there’s nothing worse for a player than to go into a game with the anxiety of, ‘I’m not prepared.’ Where is that balance? He’ll have to strike that for himself.”

Contract Details: Bitim, Evbuomwan, Funk, Spencer, Hagans, Goodwin

Onuralp Bitim‘s new standard contract with the Bulls covers two seasons beyond this one, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). The three-year deal is guaranteed for the rest of this season but is non-guaranteed in years two and three, Scotto notes.

The Bulls used $500K of their mid-level exception to give Bitim a rest-of-season salary worth more than the rookie minimum, Hoops Rumors has learned. And while the Turkish wing isn’t owed any guaranteed money beyond this season, he can earn a partial guarantee worth $350K if he’s still under contract by the start of the 2024/25 regular season.

Here are more details on a few contracts recently signed around the NBA:

  • Like fellow signee Buddy Boeheim, Tosan Evbuomwan agreed to a two-year two-way contract with the Pistons, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Both players received partial guarantees for 2024/25, but those guarantees are very modest (projected to be worth approximately $78K) and won’t count against the cap, so they don’t necessarily assure either player of starting next season on Detroit’s 18-man roster.
  • Andrew Funk‘s two-way contract with the Bulls and Pat Spencer‘s two-way deal with the Warriors each run through the 2024/25 season as well, according to Smith and Scotto (Twitter links).
  • Conversely, the two-way contracts that Ashton Hagans signed with the Trail Blazers and Jordan Goodwin signed with the Grizzlies are both just rest-of-season deals, Hoops Rumors has learned. As a result, Hagans and Goodwin will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer.

Bulls Sign Onuralp Bitim To Multiyear Contract

FEBRUARY 25: Bitim’s new contract is official, the Bulls announced (via Twitter).

FEBRUARY 23: The Bulls will use the open spot on their 15-man roster to promote Onuralp Bitim from his two-way deal to a standard contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Bitim is signing a multiyear pact with the team.

Bitim is in his first NBA season after playing professionally for several years in Turkey. He was made the All-EuroCup Second Team for Bursaspor last season, averaging 18.1 points and 3.2 assists in 18 EuroCup contests, before agreeing to come stateside to join the Bulls.

The Turkish wing – who will turn 25 next month – has not had a role in Chicago so far this season, however, appearing briefly in just two games at the NBA level. While Bitim has yet to score his first NBA point, he has played regularly for the Windy City Bulls, appearing in 22 Showcase Cup and regular season G League games so far this season.

Bitim has averaged 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 30.1 minutes per contest for Windy City, posting a shooting line of .415/.363/.909. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but they have improved as of late — he has averaged 16.7 PPG with a .433 3PT% since the NBAGL regular season began at the end of December.

It seems the Bulls have liked what they’ve seen from Bitim enough to give him a promotion and to give themselves the option of having him on next season’s roster at a minimum-salary rate. Terms of his new contract have yet to be reported, but I imagine it will include little to no guaranteed money beyond this season, giving the club some flexibility.

Once Bitim’s promotion is official, the Bulls will have a full 15-man standard roster, with one of their two-way slots open. They’ll have until March 4 to fill that two-way opening.

Bulls Sign Onuralp Bitim To Two-Way Contract

JULY 24: Bitim’s two-way deal is now official, per NBA.com’s transaction log.

JULY 21: Turkish guard/forward Onuralp Bitim has agreed to a two-way contract with the Bulls, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Bitim, 24, was a second-team EuroCup player for Bursaspor in Turkey last year and a Turkish League champion in 2019. He averaged 18.1 points and 3.2 assists in 18 EuroCup games last season.

Rumors regarding Bitim joining the Bulls on a two-way began percolating overseas shortly after the draft. However, he did not join the Bulls for Las Vegas Summer League and it was unknown whether he would join the team. The two sides apparently reached an agreement in the interim and now Bitim slots into the Bulls’ third and final two-way contract spot.

Rookie center Adama Sanogo joined the Bulls on a two-way contract after going undrafted out of UConn and forward Justin Lewis signed a two-year two-way deal toward the end of last season.

The Bulls also have 13 players on standard contracts. Carlik Jones‘ non-guaranteed salary of $1.9MM becomes partially guaranteed for $250K on the first day of the regular season, so the team has a pathway to another roster spot if he is waived by the start of next season. Additionally, the Bulls were granted a $10.2MM disabled player exception for the season-ending injury of Lonzo Ball, though it only generates cap flexibility, not an extra roster spot.

The Bulls still have Ayo Dosunmu‘s restricted free agency to handle as well as the possible returns of Javonte Green, Derrick Jones Jr. and/or Terry Taylor. Taylor spent last season in Chicago on a two-way deal, so Bitim’s signing makes his return less likely.

Central Notes: Giannis, Nembhard, Toppin, Freeman-Liberty

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is included on the preliminary roster that Greece submitted this week for the FIBA World Cup, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Although it’s uncertain whether he’ll play, the move is an encouraging sign after Antetokounmpo underwent minor surgery on his left knee in June.

There have been concerns about Antetokounmpo’s condition in the wake of the operation, which was described as a clean-up procedure, and the back injury he suffered during Milwaukee’s first-round playoff series against Miami.

Vardon notes that Antetokounmpo has said that helping Greece capture a World Cup title is one of his professional goals. The two-time MVP is a frequent participant in international competitions, taking part in the World Cup four years ago and EuroBasket last summer.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Tyrese Haliburton only needed to watch Pacers teammate Andrew Nembhard play one game during Summer League to know he was too good for the competition, according to an Indianapolis Star story. “Y’all can send Andrew home,” Haliburton told president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and general manager Chad Buchanan after watching Nembhard dominate the team’s first game in Las Vegas. “He don’t need to be here.” Although Nembhard appears ready for a larger role in his second NBA season, Indiana’s offseason moves may complicate that. The Pacers signed Bruce Brown and drafted Ben Sheppard, and coach Rick Carlisle may decide to promote Bennedict Mathurin to a starting job in the backcourt alongside Haliburton.
  • Obi Toppin never averaged more than 17.1 minutes per game during his three seasons with the Knicks, but he’s the Pacers‘ presumed starter at power forward, The Indianapolis Star adds in a projection of the team’s depth chart. Lottery pick Jarace Walker, who was impressive during Summer League, will probably be Toppin’s primary backup.
  • The Bulls were exploring ways to sign Javon Freeman-Liberty, who starred for them in Las Vegas, when he agreed to a two-way contract with the Raptors on Friday, agent Keith Glass tells K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Chicago filled its final two-way slot later in the day by reaching an agreement with Onuralp Bitim.