The Bulls are finalizing a deal with Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas that will make him Chicago’s new executive VP of basketball operations, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
According to Woj (via Twitter), the Bulls offered the job to Karnisovas earlier in the evening on Wednesday and spent the night negotiating the details.
Karnisovas’ diverse background in basketball was said to appeal to the Bulls. Before working with Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly to build a contender in Denver, Karnisovas was part of the basketball operations department in the NBA’s league office and served as an international scout for the Rockets. He also had a successful EuroLeague career as a player and won a pair of bronze medals for Lithuania’s national team in the Olympics.
Karnisovas had been with the Nuggets since being hired as an assistant general manager in 2013. He was promoted to GM in 2017 and helped build a roster that won 54 games in 2018/19 and was on nearly an identical pace this year before the NBA suspended its season.
Momentum had been building toward Karnisovas landing the job throughout the week as he interviewed for the position and emerged as a frontrunner. He’ll now be tasked with hiring a new general manager and reshaping the Bulls’ front office, per Wojnarowski. With no end to the NBA’s hiatus in sight, the Bulls’ new exec should have plenty of time to evaluate the roster and weigh offseason options for the franchise.
Longtime Bulls executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson is expected to move into the background as part of the front office overhaul. While Paxson will likely assume an advisory position, he’d reportedly be willing to step down from the franchise altogether if Karnisovas and team ownership decide there’s no role for him. Meanwhile, a reassignment to the scouting department appears to be the most likely outcome for general manager Gar Forman.
Jazz GM Justin Zanik, former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, and veteran executives Bryan Colangelo and Danny Ferry were among the other candidates to speak to the Bulls this week. Chicago was also said to have interest in Pacers GM Chad Buchanan, Raptors GM Bobby Webster, and Heat assistant GM Adam Simon, but they didn’t end up interviewing with the Bulls and will stay with their respective teams.
As for the Nuggets, it remains to be seen how Karnisovas’ impending departure will impact their front office. Assistant GM Calvin Booth could be among the candidates for a promotion as Denver looks to fill the hole created by Karnisovas’ exit.