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Bairstow signs 3-year deal with Chicago Bulls

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Cameron Bairstow, left, went from a senior star at the University of New Mexico to the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the NBA draft. On Monday, he signed a contract with the Bulls. (Journal file)

Cameron Bairstow, left, went from a senior star at the University of New Mexico to the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the NBA draft. On Monday, he signed a contract with the Bulls. (Journal file)

The Chicago Bulls on Monday announced the signing of former University of New Mexico power forward Cameron Bairstow.

“We like Cameron’s combination as a player with his size, energy and physicality,” said Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman on the team’s website. “He is a hard worker who will only get better with time.”

Bairstow, the team’s second-round draft pick (No. 49 overall) in last month’s NBA Draft, on Sunday told the Journal he would wait until the team’s announcement to comment on the contract. He left Sunday night for his home in Brisbane, Australia.

Specific financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Journal has confirmed the contract is for three years with the first year being fully guaranteed and year two of the contract being 50 percent guaranteed. The NBA’s rookie minimum salary for the 2014-15 season is $507,000.

Various media reports, none citing specific sources, have reported Bairstow’s deal is for three years, a rarity for a second-round pick.

Last week, before the deal was finalized, Bulls assistant general manager Randy Brown told the Journal how much the organization thought of Bairstow. Forman, in a post-draft news conference, praised the Aussie’s work ethic and physical style of play.

“We like Cam. I know my boss, Gar Forman, had the opportunity to trade our second round pick and he said absolutely not because we had our eyes set on Cameron,” Brown said. “Physical guy. Doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He’s going to put himself in position to be on our team next year because he’s a worker. He’s very low maintenance. We like guys who appreciate the opportunity to wear a Bulls uniform and he’s one of those guys.”

The Bulls in the past week have added to an already crowded frontcourt, adding new players Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic to go along with holdover Joakim Noah. Bairstow said Sunday he realizes this will affect his playing time, but he also looks forward to learning from those players and emphasized he has felt good about his fit with the Bulls since he was drafted by them in June.

Later this week, Bairstow will join the Australian Boomers national team in a training camp for the FIBA World Cup championships that start in late August. Bairstow is one of 17 players invited to the camp. The roster will eventually be cut to 12 for the FIBA event.

Should he make the team, the World Cup runs through mid-September. Training camp for the Bulls begins in late September.

While Bairstow played the center position predominantly during the recent NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Nev., he is still considered primarily a power forward by the organization, he told the Journal on Sunday. His play at the center position in the summer league was due to a recent trade, as the Dallas Mavericks acquired Chicago’s Greg Smith. Smith had practiced at the center position with Bairstow at the power forward spot for much of the team’s pre-summer league camp.

Still, Bairstow averaged 10.2 points and 7.0 rebounds while starting all five games for the Bulls.

Bairstow is not the first Aussie big man to ever appear on the Bulls roster. Former Lobo Luc Longley won three championships with the Bulls in the 1990s and is now an assistant coach for the Boomers.

The Bulls roster also includes former Lobo Tony Snell, a first-round pick of the organization in 2013. Snell and Bairstow were each a part of UNM’s 2010 recruiting class.

Snell was named Sunday to the All-NBA Summer League First Team after averaging 20.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists in five games.

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