Bulls Plan To Sign Antonio Blakeney To NBA Deal

Additionally, any Bulls interest in Jahlil Okafor has passed.

Cody Westerlund
July 18, 2018 - 4:54 pm
Antonio Blakeney

Nelson Chenault/USA Today Sports

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- A promotion for Bulls guard Antonio Blakeney by way of signing a minimum NBA deal is likely to come soon, a source said early Wednesday afternoon. 

Blakeney played on a two-way contract last season, splitting his time between the Windy City Bulls of the G League and the Bulls, with whom he could only spend 45 days. Blakeney averaged 7.9 points in 16.5 minutes across 19 games with the Bulls. He was also named the G League Rookie of the Year after averaging a league-high 32.0 points and 6.6 rebounds.

It appeared Blakeney's goal had come true by late Wednesday afternoon. Blakeney would give the Bulls 14 players on the roster.

Bulls not eyeing Okafor

A day after a Sporting News report surfaced citing the Bulls’ interest in free-agent center Jahlil Okafor, a Chicago native who’s had a disappointing pro career, that storyline appears over.

The Bulls have no interest in adding Okafor, a source said. The Bulls did do preliminary research on Okafor and discuss how he’d possibly fit, but they decided their frontcourt is plenty crowded. The Bulls are going to prioritize the development of rookie center Wendell Carter Jr., and veteran center Robin Lopez deserves minutes if he’s not traded by opening night.

Lauri Markkanen will start at power forward, where Bobby Portis needs some backup minutes and where the newly signed and introduced Jabari Parker ideally will log some of his minutes.

It’s unclear if Okafor will find an NBA home. Four teams recently watched a workout of his in Las Vegas during Summer League, the Sporting News reported. He likely could be looking at a minimum contract if he does land in the NBA next season.  

Bulls have room exception left

The Bulls’ addition of Parker on Saturday caused them to cease their operation as an over-the-salary-cap team that was relying on exceptions for player acquisition and retention.

To sign Parker to a two-year, $40-million deal, the Bulls used their open salary cap space, as that was the lone mechanism to fit his $20-million salary onto their books or 2018-’19.

What it means moving forward is that Chicago is essentially right at the $101.9-million salary cap and has the $4.4-million room mid-level exception to add another player if it so chooses.

 The Bulls relinquished their qualifying offer on wing David Nwaba to add Parker, making him an unrestricted free agent. A return for Nwaba seems unlikely given Chicago’s roster situation -- especially with Blakeney's impending promotion -- though the Bulls will continue to monitor his market.