Arturas Karnisovas

Bulls Notes: Boylen, Mini-Camp, Draft, Deng

Bulls executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas is keeping his promise to evaluate head coach Jim Boylen and his staff before making a decision on their future, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bulls have plenty of down time for Karnisovas to interact with Boylen and the other coaches. The team isn’t part of the restart in Orlando and is awaiting word on a possible mini-camp with the other seven non-invited teams.

Karnisovas and new general manager Marc Eversley have been encouraging the staff to focus solely on coaching-related matters and avoid other distractions that arise, Johnson adds. They want management to be in charge of any other issues that involve the team.

Since joining the Bulls, Karnisovas has met frequently with Boylen to watch film, get his opinions on player development and discuss the draft and free agency. Although Boylen remains unpopular with Chicago’s fan base, Karnisovas has pledged not to let public opinion sway his decision.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The Bulls would probably be well represented at a gathering of the eight teams not in Orlando, though all players may not participate, Johnson adds in the same piece. One of the most intriguing decisions would involve Lauri Markkanen, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason and may not want to risk an injury with nothing at stake.
  • Point guard may again be a position of need as the new Bulls management team prepares for the draft, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Kris Dunn hasn’t developed into the play-maker the front office expected, and Coby White, last year’s top pick, seems better suited to play shooting guard. Cowley sees LaMelo Ball, Killian HayesTyrese Haliburton and Cole Anthony as the best point guards available.
  • In an interview with Carol Tshabalala, Luol Deng blames former GM Gar Forman for destroying the Bulls’ chances at winning a title. “The guy who traded me obviously ruined the team,” Deng said. “I don’t mind saying that now. I would never speak about him as a person, just the decisions he made.” Tom Thibodeau was irate that the front office opted to trade Deng rather than give him a contract extension, Deng adds.

Bulls Notes: Karnisovas, Boylen, Markkanen, LaVine

Even though rumors are heating up about possible replacements for Bulls coach Jim Boylen, new executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas indicated that the decision won’t be a quick one, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. As we relayed this morning, one report this week indicated that Sixers assistant Ime Udoka is the front-runner to replace Boylen, but Karnisovas said today on a conference call with reporters that many elements will play into the decision.

“Coaching in the league is very difficult. To make a decision about coaching is really hard. It’s probably the hardest thing for executives,” he said. “So I look at a lot of aspects. I’ve had numerous conversations. That said, I’d like to be in a building, to be in practices, to be around the coaching staff in meetings. We’re looking forward to getting in the video room together, analyze the games, to watch games together. Talking to players and coaches, obviously everyone is disappointed with the results last year. They (the Bulls) definitely underperformed. Watching games, I’m excited to watch because there’s a lot of talent on this team. In order for me to keep players and coaches accountable, I have to have personal relationships with them. That’s what I need to cultivate. That’s my objective this offseason.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Karnisovas said no more front office changes are planned, which means associate general manager Brian Hagen, assistant general manager Steve Weinman and director of pro personnel Jim Paxson will all be retained, Johnson adds in the same piece.
  • Karnisovas had frequent discussions with Lauri Markkanen during the hiatus and believes the third-year forward can turn things around after a disappointing season, Johnson notes in a separate story. Although Karnisovas didn’t address the topic in the conference call, Markkanen will be eligible for an extension when the offseason begins. “He’s eager to get back to the gym and improve,” Karnisovas said. “He was disappointed by the overall result (last season). Every player wants to win. He’s about winning, as well. Our objective is to get the best version of Lauri next year.”
  • Zach LaVine is disappointed that the Bulls weren’t able to qualify for the resumption of the season in Orlando, writes Eric Woodyward of ESPN. Chicago posted a 22-43 record before the shutdown — 11th in the East and eight games out of a playoff spot — which LaVine sees as an indication that bold steps must be taken to improve. “We weren’t even good enough to get to the play-in game,” he said, “so it’s upsetting and it just shows that we’ve got to do a lot of things differently to get ourselves that recognition to get to that spot.”

Central Notes: Bulls, Cavs, Prince, Pistons

Now that the Bulls have been officially excluded from the NBA’s 22-team resumption, the team will naturally turn their attention to an exciting offseason, per KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. This will mark Chicago’s first offseason with Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley at the helm of the team’s front office. Karnisovas and Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf both released official statements expressing disappointment at not getting to partake in the conclusion of the season from a player development perspective.

The status of head coach Jim Boylen, despite support from ownership and former president of operations John Paxson, remains the biggest question mark. Boylen owns a 39-84 record as head coach. Otto Porter Jr., the team’s injury-prone highest-paid player, is expected to opt in to the final season of his four-year, $106.5MM contract.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers voiced their frustration about not being invited to the league’s 22-team Orlando restart this summer, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The team finishes with the East’s worst record, 19-46. “This is a killer for us and our development,” a Cleveland organization member relayed to Fedor.
  • The Pistons are still potentially considering 2004 championship small forward Tayshaun Prince for a front office position with the club, according to Omari Sanofka II of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). Sanofka notes that Detroit is currently on the hunt for an experienced general manager and an up-and-coming assistant, a position for which Prince, currently in the Grizzlies front office as VP of basketball affairs, is considered a prime candidate.
  • Progress is being made in the Pistons’ search for a new GM, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit NewsMalik Rose and Pat Garrity had been the team’s top two assistant general managers, reporting directly to de facto head of basketball operations Ed Stefanski. Rose is leaving the organization and Garrity will not be in the running for the GM job. Others being considered are Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver, Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson, Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes, former Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox, and former Suns general manager Ryan McDonough.

Bulls To Reopen Practice Facility On June 3

MAY 29: The Bulls won’t reopen their facility today, but have received the go-ahead to open their doors for individual workouts beginning next Wednesday, June 3, tweets K.C. Johnson. That’s the date that the city’s “phase three” plan begins for reopening following coronavirus closures.

According to Johnson (Twitter link), new Bulls execs Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley, who have been working remotely since being hired, are scheduled to be in Chicago soon.

MAY 27: The Mavericks will reopen their practice facility on Thursday, becoming the 23rd team to do so, and the Bulls appears likely to follow suit on Friday, becoming the 24th, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports (Twitter link).

The franchise received clearance from the Governor’s office and is in discussions with the city on how to safely open the facility. Under league rules, the workouts are voluntary. Only four players at a time are permitted in the facility and no group activities such as practices or scrimmages are allowed.

Johnson adds that not many of the Bulls’ players are currently in Chicago. There’s also no guarantee that the Bulls will be included in the NBA’s return. The league is contemplating many scenarios and there’s some skepticism from teams that all franchises won’t be included.

The Celtics, Knicks, Pistons, Warriors, Spurs, and Wizards are the only remaining franchises with closed facilities.

Bulls Notes: Boylen, Loenser, Tanaka, Draft

Although the Bulls‘ ownership group and former executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson have voiced their support for head coach Jim Boylen, they’ve also made it clear to the newly-hired executives in the front office that they’ll allow Boylen’s dismissal if Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley want to go in that direction, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Cowley, who wrote earlier this month that Karnisovas and Eversley are likely leaning toward making a coaching change, notes that the Bulls will have a clearer sense of a timeline for that decision once the NBA makes an announcement on the fate of the 2019/20 season. If the team doesn’t resume play, the front office could be in position to make a call on Boylen sooner rather than later.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • While Boylen’s fate remains up in the air, the Bulls have exercised their 2020/21 option on assistant coach Nate Loenser, reports K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. As Johnson explains, Loenser – whose contract is the only one that required an immediate decision – is well-respected by players and has established a strong reputation for player development.
  • The Bulls aren’t retaining longtime trainer Jeff Tanaka, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Tanaka has been the club’s head trainer since 2014 and was an assistant trainer before that, dating back to 2008. With his contract up, Arturas Karnisovas and the new-look front office decided to go in another direction and intend to bring in someone of their own choosing, per Cowley.
  • The Bulls should be well-prepared for the 2020 draft, according to Cowley, who points out that newly-hired executives Karnisovas, Marc Eversley, Pat Connelly, and J.J. Polk will bring with them intel from three separate franchises. Throw in the research the Bulls’ existing scouts have done and there should be no shortage of information on this year’s prospects as the team sets its draft board.

Bulls’ Ownership Excited About New Front Office

The Bulls made some changes this offseason, bringing in Arturas Karnisovas to be the team’s head of basketball operations and Marc Eversley to be the new general manager. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf has high hopes for the newly-hired duo.

“I’m excited about these guys,” Reinsdorf told K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “In talking with Arturas and hearing what everyone else said about him, I was convinced we made the right decision. He’s not an egomaniac. He’s not shy. He seems balanced and basketball smart. That’s what I got out of the interview.”

Karnisovas is just the third person to hold the head of basketball operations title since Reinsdorf took over control of the team. Jerry Krause and John Paxson were the other two executives to run things in Chicago. However, unlike the previous hires, Reinsdorf didn’t lead the search and interview process; his son, Michael Reinsdorf, did.

“At the end of the day, my Dad, Jerry, is still the boss. So we had to have that final interview with my dad, and we did that over video. And it was clear after that meeting that we had our new head of basketball operations,” the younger Reinsdorf said in April. “I think what my Dad said to me after the meeting when we reconvened was: ‘I never thought you would find anyone as great as Arturas.’ So I knew we were done, and that night we were able to negotiate a deal with Arturas.”

Bulls’ Karnisovas, Eversley Leaning Toward Coaching Change?

While the Bulls aren’t saying much publicly about Jim Boylen‘s future, new executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley have received a “mixed bag of feedback” on Boylen and are believed to be leaning toward making a coaching change later this year, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

As Cowley details, the Bulls’ owners and advisor John Paxson, who made Boylen the head coach in the first place, are in favor of retaining him and have told him as much. Karnisovas doesn’t want to “rock the boat” early in his tenure with the team, but he was promised full autonomy and is expected to be given the go-ahead if he wants to make a change.

According to Cowley, Boylen has spoken to both Karnisovas and Eversley on a regular basis since they were hired. However, the new Bulls execs have also been in frequent contact with players and others in the organization, and Cowley says that “several key players” have been critical of the head coach, who has a 39-84 (.317) record since taking the reins.

A source tells The Sun-Times that, with the evaluation period ongoing, both Boylen and Bulls players have been advised to avoid interviews about the coach’s standing with the team.

Although Boylen remains under contract beyond this season, his salary is believed to be modest, so financial considerations wouldn’t stand in the way of a change. It’s fairly common for new heads of basketball operations to bring in their own head coach within a year or two, so even if Boylen holds the job for now, that wouldn’t mean the franchise is committed to him long-term.

Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin and Sixers assistant Ime Udoka have been cited as head coaching candidates the Bulls may look at if they do replace Boylen.

Bulls Notes: Karnisovas, GM Search, Boylen, Battier

Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls‘ new executive VP of basketball operations, promised “an extensive and diverse” search for a general manager during an interview with K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Karnisovas was officially hired Monday, but is working out of Denver because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. He has already added J.J. Polk and Pat Connelly in the first steps toward assembling a new front office.

“I’ve been in this profession a long time,” Karnisovas said. “Most of the guys on the list I know personally and I’ve known them for a long time, from scouting games and going to dinners and interaction. It’s going to be easier for me. I know exactly the criteria I’m looking for. It’s going to be complementary to me and my skill set. I don’t want clones. I want somebody who is going to bring something different to our organization. Those are things I pay attention to.”

Also in the interview, Karnisovas talked about his preference for an up-tempo offense with plenty of ball movement and the need for player development, citing the progress the Nuggets were able to make with a young team.

“Players want to play and players want to win,” he said. “I’m going to try to facilitate that. I’m going to try to improve every year. Constant improvement is what we’ve done in Denver. I’d like to incorporate that here.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Karnisovas should be willing to trade any player on the roster, even leading scorer Zach LaVine or Lauri Markkanen, contends Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago. He cites the Sixers, Nets and Spurs as teams that might look to shake up their rosters in the offseason.
  • The uncertainty of the NBA calendar may help coach Jim Boylen keep his job, Johnson writes in a mailbag column. If the league is able to squeeze in a few regular season games before the playoffs, Johnson believes it makes sense to keep Boylen around for those. Karnisovas said he will get to know Boylen, who has two years left on his contract, before making a final decision. Johnson notes that Karnisovas has a prior relationship with assistant coach Chris Fleming, whom he helped to hire in Denver.
  • Chicago hasn’t sought permission to interview Shane Battier, the Heat’s VP of basketball development and analytics, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. A report earlier this week indicated the Bulls weren’t planning to pursue Battier because they don’t believe Miami would let him go.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Aldridge, Nuggets, Nader

When Damian Lillard took over the Trail Blazers‘ Twitter account on Monday evening for a Q&A with fans, most of the questions and his responses were fairly innocuous. However, one of Lillard’s answers had to be deleted after the fact.

As Nico Martinez of Fadeaway World details (hat tip to NBC Sports), when asked which former teammate he’d like to have on the current Trail Blazers roster, Lillard replied, “I’d add LaMarcus (Aldridge).”

That sort of comment wouldn’t be a big deal if Lillard said it during a Zoom or Instagram Live session, but the NBA may not take kindly to him making it on the Trail Blazers’ official Twitter account. The league introduced new anti-tampering measures last year and Lillard’s tweet – by way of the Blazers’ account – arguably violates those rules.

Although the tweet has since been removed, it’s sure to fuel speculation about an eventual reunion between the Trail Blazers and Aldridge, which has been a topic of discussion multiple times in recent years. For what it’s worth, Aldridge himself responded to Lillard’s tweet with an eyes emoji.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Once it became clear that Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas wanted the Bulls‘ head of basketball operations job, president of basketball operations Tim Connelly organized mock interview sessions to help him make a good impression in his actual meeting, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “It was amazing,” said Karnisovas, who was officially hired by Chicago on Monday. “It’s a prep, but that’s what I’m all about. I like to be all prepared. We prepared for all the questions and we covered all the bases. He helped me out.”
  • Nick Kosmider and John Hollinger of The Athetic take an in-depth look at the state of the Nuggets, examining what steps are necessary to turn Denver from a strong playoff team into a legitimate title contender.
  • In his third NBA season and second with the Thunder, Abdel Nader improved his shooting efficiency and made major strides on the defensive end, writes Logan Meyer of Daily Thunder. Oklahoma City is in position to keep Nader for one more year before he reaches free agency — he has a minimum-salary team option for 2020/21.

Bulls Notes: Front Office, Boylen, Forman, Paxson

On a conference call today introducing new executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf said that it was clear during the search process that the former Denver GM “checked every box,” as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Reinsdorf admitted that his father, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, ultimately had to sign off on the hire, but said “it was clear after that meeting that we had our guy.”

Karnisovas, meanwhile, confirmed that J.J. Polk and Pat Connelly will join the Bulls’ front office, as previously reported, and said that hiring a general manager is next on his list of priorities. According to Karnisovas, the GM search will be “extensive and diverse,” and the goal will be to hire an executive whose skills complement his own, rather than overlapping significantly with his strengths (all Twitter links via K.C. Johnson).

As for the future of head coach Jim Boylen, that remains up in the air, with Karnisovas telling reporters that there’s no timeline for a decision on Boylen or the coaching staff (Twitter link via Johnson).

Boylen took the unusual step of issuing a welcome message to the new head of basketball operations through the team’s PR department, lauding Karnisovas’ résumé and commending the Reinsdorfs for bringing him aboard.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Karnisovas offered the following explanation when asked about Gar Forman‘s dismissal: “After some consideration and conversation, it was apparent that we have different philosophies that will prevent us from moving forward. Those decisions are never easy. I was hired to affect change” (Twitter link via Johnson).
  • Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times tweets that Forman’s departure should increase the Bulls’ appeal to free agents. Forman’s presence “poisoned the well” with players and agents, according to Cowley, who says the longtime general manager was viewed as “untrustworthy.”
  • Confirming a recent report, Michael Reinsdorf said today that it was John Paxson who came to ownership in the winter to suggest the need for changes in the front office (Twitter link via Johnson). Previously the Bulls’ executive VP of basketball operations, Paxson will now be a senior advisor.
  • After facing some criticism last week for a perceived lack of diversity in the Bulls’ front office search, Reinsdorf defended the team’s record on that front, as Johnson details for NBC Sports Chicago. According to Reinsdorf, two of the six candidates on the team’s short list for head of basketball operations were people of color, but Chicago was denied permission to interview both.
  • Karnisovas said today that facilitating player development will be one of his primary goals in Chicago, since the Bulls are a young team with a handful of promising young players (Twitter link via Johnson).