Five days after reports surfaced suggesting the Bulls were finalizing the hiring of Arturas Karnisovas, Chicago has made it official, announcing in a press release that the former Nuggets general manager is now their executive VP, basketball operations. As expected, Karnisovas’ new title with the Bulls is the one John Paxson held for the last several years.
“Arturas is one of the most respected basketball executives in the NBA. His résumé speaks for itself. I am thrilled that he is now a member of the Bulls,” said president & COO Michael Reinsdorf, who led the front office search. “As the new head of basketball operations, I am confident that his vision, ability to lead and experience helping build winning teams in Houston and Denver will serve him well here. I am very pleased to welcome him and his family to the City of Chicago and have him officially join our organization.”
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 prior to the suspension of the NBA’s season.
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.
“This is the height of a dream for me, and I am prepared for the challenge that it presents,” Karnisovas said in a statement of his own. “I grew up watching the Chicago Bulls. They represented American basketball and the NBA to a kid from Lithuania. I’ve always had a love for this franchise and to be a part of it and influence its revival is a privilege. I want to thank (team chairman) Jerry (Reinsdorf) and Michael Reinsdorf and the entire Bulls organization for presenting me with this opportunity and welcoming me and my family to Chicago.”
Since news broke last week that the Bulls had landed on Karnisovas as their new head of basketball operations, there have been rumors and reports on executives who may join him in Chicago’s new-look front office. The team reportedly reached a deal to hire cap guru J.J. Polk away from the Pelicans and was said to be in serious talks with Nuggets director of pro personnel Pat Connelly as well.
Of course, two of the most important initial decisions Karnisovas will have to make involve the head coach and general manager roles. Jim Boylen reportedly has some concern about his job security despite remaining confident he’ll be retained. Meanwhile, longtime GM Gar Forman has been let go, with Karnisovas said to be putting together a list of candidates to fill that position.
As for the Nuggets, they’ll need to plug the hole created in the front office by the departure of their general manager. Assistant GM Calvin Booth is a candidate for a promotion in Denver, though he’s also said to be on Karnisovas’ list of potential GM targets.