After several moves to clear roster spots over the weekend, the Chicago Bulls have made an unexpected waiver claim on guard Tyler Ulis. First reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, the expectation is for Ulis to be re-signed in one of the Bulls two-way spots between here and the G-League.
Ulis is a local product from Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, which continues a recent Bulls theme of signing talent from the area. He spent two years at University of Kentucky before being drafted early in the second round by the Phoenix Suns in 2016. Ulis, who will likely always struggle to physically with his 5’10” frame, nevertheless showed glimpses of potential in averaging 7.6 points and 4.1 assists per game. A free agent this offseason, he was signed and then waived by the Golden State Warriors this preseason after appearing in 40 preseason minutes.
Still only 22-years-old (3 months younger than rookie Chandler Hutchison), the Bulls will be hoping to be the beneficiaries of his untapped talent, using their remaining two-way contract to add him to the roster. Historically, the Bulls have used these spots for high-upside plays with Antonio Blakeney, Ryan Arcidiacono and Rawle Alkins. Bringing in and taking a shot on Ulis only adds to this.
Though while taking a swing on a young, Chicago-based player is a nice move in isolation, it’s hardly the addition needed to improve the big-league depth at point guard. In such an event where Kris Dunn is hurt or struggling, neither Cameron Payne or Arcidiacono are good enough to be a stop-gap starter, let alone a big minute backup. Ulis, who will spend most of his time with the Windy City Bulls, isn’t likely to impact the rotation.
For a young, rebuilding team basing the fortunes of the franchise around two high caliber big men taken in successive drafts, a veteran point guard who has experience running intricate pick-and-roll sets should have been top of mind. Instead, management have opted to infuse an already immature roster with another inexperienced point guard fighting for his own career.
For the benefit of the young pieces on the roster, adding an experienced point guard remains a priority, one that will likely need to come via a trade. At that point, one of these players must go – and it shouldn’t be Ulis.
Until then, so goes on the rotating point guard carousel. Perhaps where Michael Carter-Williams, Jerian Grant and Kay Felder experiments failed, one of Payne, Arcidiacono or Ulis will succeed?
Here’s to hoping Dunn remains injury-free and ready to play big minutes.