Arturas Karnisovas

Bulls Notes: Lineup, Williams, Dosunmu, Donovan

The Bulls made a change to their starting lineup on Friday against Golden State, replacing Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams with Alex Caruso and Javonte Green.

The new-look starting lineup didn’t exactly set the world on fire – the five-man group was outscored by seven points in just over 10 minutes of action – but head coach Billy Donovan said he liked what he saw and doesn’t expect it will just be a one-game tweak, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. He added that it wasn’t a defensive-minded move to try to slow down the high-powered Warriors.

“It was more to see, ‘Let’s see what this looks like,'” Donovan said, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I’m always evaluating and you’re not trying to make a decision after two or three games. But I think there’s a pretty decent body of work for the number of games we played. And I just wanted to take a look at something different.”

Dosunmu and Williams remained in the rotation, logging 21 and 19 minutes respectively, and Donovan said he appreciated how they handled the new roles.

“I understand there’s always a level of prestige with starting. I get all that. But I also think those guys see a bigger picture,” Donovan said. “It’s not like I said to them, ‘Hey listen, I’m moving you out of the starting lineup and you’re out of the rotation.’ I was really pleased with the way both responded. They’re team guys. They want to win. I’m sure in their heart of hearts want to start. But I also think the team is more important to them.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Donovan is hoping that the move to the second unit will encourage Williams, a former No. 4 overall pick, to avoid getting passive on offense. “The one thing we’ve been trying to do is to try to get him to be more aggressive,” Donovan said, per Johnson. “I think being out there with three terrific offensive players in Zach (LaVine) and Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) and DeMar (DeRozan), sometimes there aren’t as many opportunities. I told him in doing this I wanted him to be more aggressive offensively, that he was going to need to be somebody who could give that group a little bit of a pop. I look at it that this may actually help his development.”
  • Although the Bulls were pleased that Dosunmu and Williams accepted the lineup change without complaint, LaVine suggested that his teammates should view their demotions as a challenge. “I don’t think they should be happy or satisfied with it at all,” LaVine said, according to Johnson.
  • Writing for The Sun-Times, Cowley questions why Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf kept a lid on the contract extension that Donovan signed with the team before the season began, arguing that it’s a disservice to fans to try to keep that sort of move under wraps.
  • Donovan’s extension is a reflection of how the connection between him and president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has grown in recent years, according to Johnson, who notes that the two men speak almost daily and says there’s “never any misunderstanding in their shared, direct conversation.”

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Roster Decisions, Offseason

Speaking today to reporters, including K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter links), Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said his hope is to have Zach LaVine in Chicago going forward and that he’s confident the two sides can work out a new deal, given their strong relationship. LaVine will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Addressing LaVine’s left knee injury, which was a nagging issue for much of the 2021/22 season, Karnisovas suggested it’s unlikely to be a major factor in free agency negotiations and that a final determination hasn’t been made on whether the All-Star guard will require surgery. As Johnson notes, an MRI on the knee showed nothing structurally wrong that would create long-term concern, but surgery still appears likely.

In his own session with the media, LaVine confirmed that he’s going to meet with his doctor in Los Angeles to determine the best plan of action for his knee (Twitter link via Johnson). He also stated that free agency is a “big decision” for him and his family and that he intends to take his time to consider all his options (Twitter link via Johnson).

While LaVine said he’ll leave it to his agent and the Bulls’ front office to try to work out a deal, he admitted that being a maximum-salary player is important to him, tweets Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago: I see myself as a top guy in this league and I think I’ve proven that over the last four years.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Besides retaining LaVine, Karnisovas likes the idea of keeping the Bulls’ roster mostly intact and making minor changes around the edges, tweets Schaefer. Hopefully we can keep the core together and work around the margins,” Karnisovas said.
  • Lonzo Ball is on board with Karnisovas’ plan to maintain the current core, writes Sam Smith of Bulls.com. “I would love to run it back,” Ball said. “I was unhealthy this year. (Alex) Caruso went down. Pat(rick Williams) was pretty much out all the way until the playoffs. Everyone knows Zach was playing hurt pretty much this whole year. If everybody can get healthy and come back, I don’t see why we couldn’t run it back.” DeMar DeRozan added that he has “the utmost trust and faith in the front office to do the job,” Smith writes.
  • In his Bulls offseason preview, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype examines LaVine’s free agency, a possible extension for Nikola Vucevic, and more.

Bulls Notes: Thompson, Williams, Standing Pat, Luxury Tax

Tristan Thompson is currently a Pacer, but the Bulls would be interested in his services if he’s bought out by Indiana, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets. Thompson was thrown into the Domantas SabonisTyrese Haliburton blockbuster between Indiana and Sacramento for salary-matching purposes. The two parties are reportedly mulling a buyout of his $9.7MM expiring contract. Chicago didn’t add to its frontcourt prior to the trade deadline.

We have more on the Bulls:

  • According to the team’s top executive, Arturas Karnisovas, Patrick Williams will return from his injury this season, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Mid-March is the soft target date for Williams’ comeback. Williams has been sidelined since late October after undergoing surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left wrist. At the time, the Bulls gave a recovery timeline of four-to-six months.
  • Williams’ expected return, as well the hope that Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso will eventually rejoin the rotation after recovering from their injuries, were factors in the Bulls’ decision to stand pat on deadline day, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago tweets“We were taking calls, but the mutual feeling with all of our group was: ‘Let’s get out guys back,” Karnisovas said. “We’re going to have enough time in the regular season to see what this group can do healthy.’”
  • Karnisovas was somewhat evasive when asked if he had the green light to go beyond the luxury tax threshold in future seasons, Schaefer adds in another tweet. While noting the front office has been “pretty aggressive” in its acquisitions over the last nine months, Karnisovas said, “When the opportunity will present itself, I think we’re going to evaluate that. That’s it.”

Central Notes: Bulls, Karnisovas, Cavaliers, Harris, Caruso

The Bulls have been dealing with several injuries at power forward this season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. In addition to starting forward Patrick Williams, Derrick Jones Jr., Javonte Green and Alex Caruso are all sidelined due to injuries or health and safety protocols.

Chicago has a starting core of Lonzo BallZach LaVineDeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic. At power forward, Williams started all five of his games, but the 20-year-old suffered a dislocated wrist in November and is expected to miss most or all of the season.

Jones is likely to miss two-to-four weeks due to a bone bruise in his knee, Green is sidelined with an adductor injury, and Caruso is still in protocols. As for Williams, the Bulls have simply been working on getting his conditioning up this month.

‘‘We’re trying to get him just a conditioning piece; he can do some of that,’’ head coach Billy Donovan said. ‘‘He still has to be very, very careful with the [wrist] in terms of being around a lot of people. There is some form shooting they are allowing him to do. Just trying to get his movements back and trying to get him working on defense, cutting.

‘‘That’s kind of the focus for him right now. He’s been cleared to do a lot of the cardiovascular stuff.’’

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

  • Bulls executive VP Arturas Karnisovas received praise from president and COO Michael Reinsdorf for helping make the team relevant again, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com writes. “When we hired Arturas, I was confident that he would help turn things around, but I can’t say I thought it would be this quickly,” Reinsdorf said. “There are no issues. There’s no drama. Just everyone wanting to get to the next level. It’s a good feeling.”
  • The Cavaliers would be interested in acquiring Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris ahead of the February 10 trade deadline, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (hat tip to HoopsHype). Harris played 14 games this season due to ankle surgery, but the 30-year-old averaged 14.1 points on 48% shooting from deep last season.
  • Bulls guard Alex Caruso could return on Wednesday against the Cavaliers, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter). As noted previously, Caruso is currently in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. He was also dealing with a foot sprain this month.

Central Notes: Stephenson, Sabonis, Karnisovas, Pistons

Lance Stephenson‘s return to the Pacers has helped boost Domantas Sabonis‘ scoring numbers, including a career-high 42 points Saturday night, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Sabonis, who topped 32 points for the third time in the four games that Stephenson has played, had a thunderous dunk in the fourth quarter Saturday on a pass that Stephenson delivered in a pick and roll.

“We took it back because you know me and Domas, we was in the second unit the second time I came back here (in 2017/18), and me and him used to do the pick and roll and it used to be like showtime,” Stephenson said. “So I just felt like it was a flashback like, ‘Oh, man! I just know he gonna be there!’ And you know I had to put my little twist on it.”

Stephenson, whose 10-day contract will expire on Monday, is expected to be signed for the rest of the season. He has been impressive since joining the Pacers, averaging 14.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 22.8 minutes per game.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas pointed to the team’s chemistry when asked about the trade deadline during a radio interview this week, relays K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago“I think we’d like to see how this group works together, and we’ve got to be really sensitive to any changes, if any, we will have,” Karnisovas said. “Like I said, these guys have a great locker room, a great vibe. They like each other. It’s a joy to watch what they’re doing on the floor. But of course, there’s room to improve as a group and I’m looking forward to watching them.” 
  • The Bulls have the best offensive rating in the league during their nine-game winning streak and have been able to score without relying heavily on three-point shots, notes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Coach Billy Donovan said he wouldn’t mind seeing the team shoot more from long distance as long as they’re high-quality shots.
  • Pistons coach Dwane Casey hopes his team used its COVID-19 outbreak as a learning experience, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Detroit had nine players enter the health and safety protocols since December 22 and used eight G League players to replace them. “Our medical staff, coaching staff, everybody learned what you can do and how much you can go and still be functional through those two games,” Casey said. “Maybe it was too quick. Maybe you need more time for conditioning. But we learned and moved on. I think the whole league is learning.”

Bulls Notes: Ball, Karnisovas, Domercant, Bradley

New starting Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball anticipates that he will operate more as a “traditional” point guard within Chicago’s offense, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Ball suggested that with his prior team, the Pelicans, he served more as a wing who sought openings for jump shots and defended across a variety of positions than a true point guard.

“Just getting back to being more of a traditional point guard where I’m comfortable at,” Ball said during the Bulls’ Media Day. “Last year was different for me, but whatever coach asks me, I’m going to do to the best of my abilities. This year, it’s looking like I’m going to be playing point guard a lot, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Bulls team president Arturas Karnisovas spoke about hoping that Ball, 6’6″ and athletic could help speed up and diversify the Bulls’ offense. “He likes to play fast,” Karnisovas said. “He likes to advance the ball, to guard. He can be a primary ballhandler, or he can play as a secondary ballhandler.”

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Karnisovas opined that Chicago’s 2021 trade deadline moves, primarily the addition of All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, signaled that the team was serious about improving the talent around All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Karnisovas also noted that Chicago’s newfound commitment to creating a winning culture helped draw some of the team’s top free agent targets.
  • The Bulls’ NBA G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, have promoted Henry Domercant, an assistant coach on the club since 2018, to become the team’s fourth head coach, per a team press release. Domercant hails from Naperville, Illinois, a suburb about 30 miles away from Chicago — and roughly 30 miles away from the Windy City Bulls’ home arena in Hoffman Estates. “As a lifelong Chicagoland guy, the Chicago Bulls franchise has always been special to me and I’m grateful to the organization for the opportunity to lead the Windy City Bulls,” Domercant said. “Over the last five years, the Windy City Bulls have brought a high level of basketball to the Northwest Suburbs, and I am excited to build upon that success.”
  • New Bulls reserve center Tony Bradley appears to be fully aware of his role heading into his first year in Chicago, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago“I feel like I play to the best of my ability on defense, the pick-and-roll defense, to protect the rim,” Bradley, 23, said after the team’s first training camp session of the new NBA year. “I know I’m no high-flyer. But I do know how to get shots before they leave the hand instead of all the way up top. So I think I’m pretty good at it, pretty solid.”

Central Notes: LaVine, Vaccines, Warren, Garza, Smith, Livers, Pacers

While the Bulls have yet to sign Zach LaVine to an extension, executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas promises that the organization is committed to their high-scoring wing, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The one thing we know is that we’re committed to Zach,’’ Karnisovas said. “We want him to be in Chicago for a very long time. I think the trade deadline and free agency moves kind of proved that.’’

That message is resonating with LaVine.

“It means a lot hearing that from them,’’ he said. “I think you guys know I’m a team-first guy, I’m excited with all the moves that were made, and really looking forward to getting into camp and getting to know these guys and getting the season started because we all have a lot to prove.”

LaVine was also asked for his input on offseason moves, Cowley tweets.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Karnisovas said the Bulls are not 100% vaccinated but “pretty close,” K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets.
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle hopes T.J. Warren can make a swift recovery from the stress fracture in the navicular bone in his left foot, Akeem Glaspie of the Indianapolis Star reports. “Hopefully, it’ll be weeks and not months, that’s the hope,” Carlisle said. “It’s important for him to keep a very upbeat view of things. The healing process with people is always better and more aggressive when you have a great attitude about it and he has.” Warren has not suffered any setbacks but the location of the injury makes for a tricky rehab, Glaspie adds.
  • The Pistons converted rookie center Luka Garza‘s two-way contract into a two-year standard deal this week. It’s a minimum-salary contract, Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets, The first year is guaranteed and Detroit has a team option for 2022/23. If it’s picked up, the second year will also be fully guaranteed.
  • Chris Smith, who suffered a torn ACL in January playing for UCLA, is looking at a couple more months before he’s back, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. The Pistons signed the forward to a two-way contract in August. Another Pistons rookie forward, second-round pick Isaiah Livers, is aiming for clearance to return from his foot injury at the beginning of November, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets.
  • The Pacers’ arena has officially been renamed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, according to a team press release. It’s a multi-year partnership, replacing the former name Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Gainbridge, a Group 1001 company, is a self-managed digital platform providing clients with direct access to financial products to grow their savings.

Central Notes: Budenholzer, Pistons, Stewart, Karnisovas

Mike Budenholzer‘s job status with the Bucks could hinge on whether they advance past the Nets in the playoffs, Adrian Wojnarowski said on an ESPN broadcast (hat tip to the New York Times’ Adam Zagoria). Milwaukee’s early exit last season, plus the addition of Jrue Holiday, has put more pressure on Budenholzer to guide the franchise on a deep playoff run. Budenholzer is the third season of a four-year contract.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The major focus for the Pistons in the short run will be their lottery pick, but what GM Troy Weaver and his inner circle do after the draft will be even more telling, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Detroit won’t be anywhere near as active as it was last offseason, when Weaver did major roster reconstruction. The next major move after the draft, either in free agency or a trade, could be focused on making the roster more whole by improving the team’s 3-point shooting.
  • Pistons center Isaiah Stewart, who was selected No. 16 in last year’s draft, admits he keeps tabs on the players selected ahead of him as a motivation tool, he told James Edwards III of The Athletic“Throughout the entire season, I’ve kept track of my rookie peers and peers at my position, as well, to see what they’re doing and what the media said about them going into the draft, how they were all hyped up. … I don’t let it distract me in the wrong way. It adds fuel to my fire. I just take notes.”
  • Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls’ executive VP of basketball operations, was Denver’s assistant GM when the Nuggets drafted this year’s MVP, Nikola Jokic, in the second round. That experience could help Karnišovas uncover another gem for the Bulls, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Karnisovas surrendered two lightly-protected first-round picks to acquire Nikola Vučević, placing an even greater premium on making savvy picks that the Bulls do possess in the future, Johnson adds.

Central Notes: D. Smith, LeVert, Wade, Bulls

Pistons guard Dennis Smith Jr., acquired in a trade with the Knicks on February 7, has shown flashes since that deal of the potential that made him a lottery pick in 2017. Smith has averaged 8.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.8 APG, and 1.3 SPG for Detroit, and had his best game on Wednesday, putting up a triple-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in a win over the Raptors.

Smith and teammate Mason Plumlee were the first Pistons players to put triple-doubles in the same game in 57 years (link via Pistons.com). Before joining his new team, Smith had only played in three games for the Knicks this season and had requested to play in the G League.

Here’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Pacers guard Caris LeVert has progressed to doing practice drills, and 1-on-1 training, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. LeVert underwent surgery to remove a previously unknown kidney cancer in January after being traded to the Pacers in the four-team trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn.
  • Cavaliers second-year forward Dean Wade, who recently had his 2020/21 salary guaranteed, has started in the last five games after no prior starts in his first 35 NBA games. Most recently, he had 17 points and six rebounds against the Pacers on Wednesday. “I never doubted myself,” Wade said, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “Obviously, through the whole journey, every once in a while, you’re going to think, ‘Can I do it?’… “I’ve always believed in myself.”
  • Tension between a head coach and a GM has been a recurring theme for Jerry Reinsdorf‘s franchises over the years, but there doesn’t seem to be any drama between new Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and head coach Billy Donovanwrites Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “I think he’s doing a great job,” Karnisovas said of Donovan. “I’ve watched all the media availabilities by him… And I think the one question that’s always coming up is, ‘When do they meet? When do they talk?’ We talk every day. We talk before every practice, we spend time during practices, talk after practices, before games, after games, so the communication is always there. I expected that, and more so, there’s no misunderstandings from my side or his side.” 

Central Notes: Sexton, Karnisovas, Holiday, Doumbouya

Amidst a four-game win streak, Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton has been out-dueling a series of recent All-Star guards in Trae Young, Ben Simmons, John Wall and Victor Oladipo, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Sexton, frequently called the “cultural backbone” for the club by members of its front office, is averaging 29.7 PPG during the run.

The Cavaliers have a game in progress tonight against the Pacers, a club that boasts another high-level guard in Malcolm Brogdon, though he has yet to make an All-Star team. With a 14-21 record, Cleveland is currently two games behind the 10-seeded Bulls and the 9-seeded Pacers for a play-in slot in the East. Should the Cavaliers make the cut, Sexton will surely be leading the way.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago analyzes recent comments from tight-lipped new Bulls team president Arturas Karnišovas. Johnson discusses the growing mutual respect between Karnišovas and his new coaching hire, Billy Donovan, and how Karnišovas’s comments would seem to indicate his belief in Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen as long-term building blocks.
  • The big new addition to the Bucks roster this offseason, new starting point guard Jrue Holiday, has had a major positive impact on the club, writes Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated. Pina examines how Holiday’s two-way impact could be the key to getting Milwaukee to its first NBA Finals with All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo. When Holiday is available, the Bucks rank in the top-four on both sides of the ball.
  • Promising Pistons power forward Sekou Doumbouya is grappling with second-year growing pains according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. “To his bad luck, he’s been playing behind Blake [Griffin] and Jerami [Grant],” head coach Dwayne Casey said of Doumbouya’s limited action thus far. “We need to get him some more minutes some kind of way, but he’s got to be ready to get out once he steps in there condition-wise, physically and I love his approach, attitude and seriousness about the game.”