Bulls

Getting to know Bulls summer leaguers

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Getting to know Bulls summer leaguers

LAS VEGASSo who are these guys, exactly? Aside from returnee Jimmy Butler, first-round pick Marquis Teague and Leon Powethe undersized power forward is best known for winning a championship with the Celtics, but didnt play in the NBA last seasonthe players on the Bulls summer-league roster might be a collection of no-names to most fans.

That may be the case now, but judging from how the organization is proceeding in free agency, theres a good chance one or more of these participants in Sin City winds up at the Berto Center for training camp this fall. And if the franchise maintains its loose policy of not paying the luxury taxwhether or not it is decided to match backup center Omer Asiks offer sheet from the Rockets, once its received; now that Houston will reportedly acquire free-agent point guard Jeremy Lin, Asiks offer should be signed in the next few days, beginning the three-day window to match the dealit wouldnt be a shock to see a summer-league player stick on a non-guaranteed deal.

For Butler, who was deprived of a summer league before his rookie season, this is a chance to showcase the skills hes been working hard on in practice and during the offseason after only receiving scant minutes in his rookie campaign. While theres no substitute for experience, the swingman showed an aptitude for defense and was praised by coaches and teammates alike, so these games will be key in showing if he can be a reliable offensive optionknocking down open jumpers, finishing at the rim and creating off the dribble, in particularespecially now that Ronnie Brewer wont be back in Chicago.

Still an NBA novice, Teague wont be expected to dominate, but if he can take care of the ball, demonstrate a semblance of an outside jumper and on the defensive end, pressure the ball effectively, it will have been a successful trip for the Indianapolis native.

Powe is easily the most pedigreed of the names on the roster and given that hes a favorite of Tom Thibodeaus from their time together in Boston, he certainly stands a good chance of making the regular-season team, as somewhat of a Kurt Thomas-type veteran big man. His biggest issue will be showing that hes regained the mobility he once possessed, but after a hard-luck background, on and off the court, the tough product of Oakland is certainly used to persevering.

As for the other players, point guard Demetri McCameyan alum of both St. Joseph High School, where he teamed up with Philadelphia 76ers swingman Evan Turner, and the University of Illinoisis certainly a familiar name to Chicago basketball fans. After a year playing overseas, there are whispers that the organization is high on the big floor general.

Jermaine Taylor, a shooting guard with NBA experience, has bounced around in the NBA, but possesses scoring ability, something that could give him an opportunity, if he has a successful July stint. Malcolm Thomas, an athletic big man, and swingman Edwin Ubiles both had cups of coffee with NBA teamsthe Spurs and Wizards, respectivelyas rookies last season, potentially giving them a leg up on some of their peers.

As far as undrafted rookies, slender big man Henry Sims, is an extremely skilled player for his size and was projected to be drafted after exploding in his senior season at Georgetown, while Temple product Ramone Moore, a smooth shooting guard, also needs to add strength, but brings both savvy and outside shooting, an area of need for the Bulls, to the table. Even longer shots to make the team include: Olek Czyz, an athletic, but undersized power forward out of Nevada; Chase Simon, a swingman from Detroit; and Jamie Skeen, a power forward who played in Europe last season, but was a hero on the VCU squad that upset its way to the NCAA Final Four in 2011.

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

'Underdog' Tyler Ulis will fit in just fine with these Bulls

'Underdog' Tyler Ulis will fit in just fine with these Bulls

It's been a whirlwind of a summer for point guard Tyler Ulis, but he finally feels like he's found a home. Literally.

The 5-foot-9 point guard was cut by the Suns in late June, latched on with a training camp invite by the Warriors and was subsequently waived on Friday. It was then that Ulis, working out in California, received a call from his agent. He had been claimed on waivers by the Chicago Bulls. His hometown Bulls.

"I grew up watching (the Bulls)," he said after his first practice on Tuesday. "Growing up in this city, you always want to be a Bull and you’re always willing and hoping that you’ll be here one day...I'm home now. It's a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to it."

Ulis is back in Chicago for the first time since he was breaking records for Marian Catholic High School. Ulis became a five-star recruit for the Spartans and in 2014 signed on as the next point guard in the long line of successful floor generals under John Calipari and Kentucky.

Ulis backed up the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, as a freshman but saw his role increase as a sophomore. He blossomed, earning Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the SEC. Only Anthony Davis had ever earned both honors in a single season.

He declared for the 2016 NBA Draft with hopes of becoming a first-round pick. But unlike the Calipari point guards before him, Ulis slipped all the way down to the second round before the Phoenix Suns scooped him up with the 34th pick.

"Honestly I really did think (the Bulls) were going to draft me," Ulis said on Tuesday when recalling the 2016 NBA Draft. The Bulls took Denzel Valentine with the 14th pick. "But I'm here now so that's all that matters."

In 132 games, Ulis averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 assists in 21.1 minutes. He started 58 of those games, and while his shooting left plenty to be desired he handled the offense well and brought that same pesky defense he showed off at Kentucky. It wasn't enough, even for the guard-deprived Suns. They released Ulis before free agency this summer - which ruffled the feathers of franchise guard Devin Booker - in a rather unexpected move.

"My Mom always taught me (to) never expect anything," Ulis said of his release from the Suns. "When you're on a losing team like that anything can happen. I feel like I showed I could play at this level but they went a different way."

The Suns' loss - they may resort to starting 38-year-old Jamal Crawford at point guard this year - could be the Bulls' gain. Expectations should be harnessed for Ulis, especially with him joining the roster this late in the preseason, but the Bulls, like Phoenix, have question marks at the point.

Kris Dunn is entrenched as the starter, but Cameron Payne struggled mightily in the preseason and Ryan Arcidiacono doesn't project as a contributor. That leaves an opening for Ulis to potentially fill on the second unit, and apparently he's making a statement early in practice.

"Tyler had a real good practice," Fred Hoiberg said. "I think I think he changes the pace when he’s out there on the floor. He picks up full-court, he gets up underneath you. He can make a shot. He’s got good vision and can make a play with the ball in his hand. So I was very impressed with his first workout."

Ulis is working on a 45-day two-way contract, so it's unknown how much he'll contribute. He could be shuttled back and forth between Chicago and the Windy City Bulls, but there's certainly an opportunity for him to stick. He'll be playing catch-up and learning on the go, but doing so in his hometown wth friends and family around him for support will work to his advantage.

"Being a smaller guard growing up in a big man’s sport, you get looked over. So I’m the underdog," he said. "And I feel like this team is an underdog, so we should all be excited to get the season started and prove people wrong."