The Chicago Bulls spent the off-season dismantling their excellent bench unit, so now it's up to free agent pickups like Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich, Marko Jaric and Kyrylo Fesenko to fill in the gaps and help the reserve units stay strong. With Derrick Rose still recovering from surgery, Thibodeau and the Bulls desperately need every little advantage they can find for the first few months of the season.
Fesenko is a possible wildcard for the Bulls. The 7'1" Ukrainian center played four seasons as a backup for the Utah Jazz and has compiled uninspiring career averages of 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in just 8.2 minutes per game. Fesenko tore the meniscus in his left knee while playing for the Ukrainian national team during the Eurobasket Tournament last fall, but before he injured himself he posted excellent adjusted +/- stats and even better Synergy stats.
Jaric is another low-risk investment for the Bulls, and he's glad to be back in the NBA despite some quality offers from European teams. Here's what he told CSN-Chicago about his return to the NBA:
"I had a couple of very good offers and it was a big decision for, but I needed to put my family before anything else because of my second child. We couldn't just travel anymore from Europe to the States and I needed to make tough decisions, and refused pretty good offers from Europe in hopes that a good NBA team picks me up. Hopefully this year, that happens."
The Bulls open their preseason schedule at the United Center on Tuesday, Oct. 9 against the Memphis Grizzlies.