Julian Phillips

Julian Phillips sits out Bulls' victorious summer-league opener

Rookie, whose absence is temporary and precautionary, isn't officially signed yet

Julian Phillips practiced this week but didn't play in the Bulls' summer-league opener because he hasn't signed his contract.

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

Julian Phillips sat out the Chicago Bulls’ 83-74 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Las Vegas in their NBA Summer League opener.

The Bulls’ draft-night acquisition, who they traded into the second round to acquire, practiced all week in Chicago in the lead-up to the opener. But according to the Bulls’ public relations staff, Phillips sat out as a precaution because he has yet to sign his rookie contract.

That signing is on track to occur soon, according to Bulls PR. So it’s possible Phillips plays on Saturday when the Bulls face the Memphis Grizzlies.

With Phillips’ debut delayed, all eyes turned to Dalen Terry. The 2022 first-round pick barely played during his rookie season and John Bryant, the assistant coach who is serving as head coach in Las Vegas, said the Bulls are looking for leadership from Terry.

“He’ll obviously have the ball in his hands sometimes. He’ll be off the ball sometimes,” Bryant said this week in Chicago before the team left for Las Vegas. “So how he handles all of that now in a Vegas setting where it’s super chaotic, I’m looking for that out of him.”

Initially, Terry didn’t handle it well. He missed his first five shots before sinking a floater off the glass and played extremely loose with the ball. He had all three of his turnovers before halftime.

But to Terry’s credit, he didn’t let his offensive struggles impact his defensive focus and energy. He held Raptors’ first-round pick Gradey Dick scoreless in the first half in their shared minutes.

And Terry rallied a bit in the second half with his playmaking, finishing with 10 points on 4-for-14 shooting with six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Terry opened the game wearing a mask to protect his face. During a scrimmage at the Advocate Center on Wednesday, Terry took a blow to the face that required attention from the training and medical staff.

But Terry quickly ditched the mask.

General manager Marc Eversley appeared on the NBA-TV broadcast during the third quarter and said the Bulls are still waiting to hear from the league office on whether they’ll be granted a $10.2 million disabled player exception for Lonzo Ball.

The roster-building tool could be used either in the offseason or during the regular season to trade for any player in the final year of his contract, sign a player to a one-year deal or claim a player off waivers who is in the final year of his deal. But the Bulls also are hard-capped at $172.3 million, so the Bulls using all of the exception if it’s granted is unlikely.

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