Arturas Karnisovas

Arturas Karnisovas Admits Changes Are Necessary In Chicago

After watching his team get eliminated in the play-in round for the second straight season, Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas promised that changes are coming, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Addressing reporters today in the wake of Friday’s loss at Miami, Karnisovas sounded ready for a major roster shake-up.

“I’ve said numerous times today: This group, something doesn’t work. I have to find ways to find a group that’s going to make improvements. We’ve done it for a couple years now and it hasn’t worked,” Karnisovas said. “Everything is on the table. I am going to look at totality of the group. This group hasn’t worked. There’s a lot of great things in certain individual players and a lot of young guys who took a step forward and it’s positive. But in totality as a group, it didn’t work. So I’m going to have to find these answers in offseason.”

Presumably that will start with Zach LaVine, whom the team tried to move last fall before injuries derailed his season. Multiple outlets have reported that Karnisovas will make another attempt this summer to find a taker for LaVine, who has three years and about $138MM left on his contract, including a nearly $49MM player option for 2026/27.

Although Karnisovas emphasized the need for change at today’s press conference, Johnson states that he repeated his commitment to re-sign free agents DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams. A source tells Johnson that the team recently offered DeRozan a two-year extension in the neighborhood of $40MM per season. DeRozan reportedly wants a longer deal, but Johnson suggests that could just be a negotiating tactic.

“DeMar’s been great for us for three years,” Karnisovas said. “He’s been invested in the city of Chicago and has been really great to our young guys. So both sides are interested in continuing and we’ll see what happens in free agency.”

Johnson notes that giving new contracts to DeRozan and Williams without trading LaVine means the Bulls would start next season in luxury tax territory. Karnisovas expressed a willingness to pay the tax, but only for a contender, which heightens the need to move LaVine’s contract.

“My approach looking at the luxury tax is if you can prove that your team is going to be in the top four, you go in the luxury tax,” he said. “It just makes no sense to be in play-in if you’re going to be in the luxury tax. As long as I can put a team together that is going to be competing top four in the East, that’s when you start look at retaining guys and go in the luxury tax.” 

Karnisovas also addressed the status of Lonzo Ball, saying the organization will monitor his progress during the offseason, but he’s had no setbacks so far in his latest attempt to return from knee issues that have sidelined him since January of 2022. While Karnisovas didn’t address the possibility, Johnson points out that the Bulls stand to receive $21MM in cap relief if Ball can’t return and an independent doctor declares the injury to be career-ending.

Karnisovas said there’s no plan to replace coach head coach Billy Donovan, who is fresh off an extension and recently stated that he’s not interested in returning to college coaching when his name was floated as a possibility for Kentucky. Although Karnisovas remains loyal to Donovan, Johnson speculates there could be some changes to his staff.

“I like what Billy has done here the last four years. Billy is someone you build a program with,” Karnisovas said. “He’s a very good coach and even a better human being. We established a winning expectation, we defined a profile for the Bulls player and we put an emphasis on player development. It is also on me to facilitate Billy with the resources he needs to build a team that can be successful consistently.”

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, White, Ball, Karnisovas

The Bulls had to finish Thursday’s loss in Houston without their leading scorer after DeMar DeRozan was ejected along with Dillon Brooks for an incident midway through the third quarter (video link), writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. After DeRozan was whistled for a Flagrant 2 for a hard foul on Jalen Green, Brooks confronted him.

DeRozan blamed Brooks for escalating the conflict, saying “it’s an issue walking up on any man from behind.” He also claimed that he was off balance and didn’t intend to foul Green as hard as he did.

“I was surprised just from the simple fact that I was trying to hedge out and just be aggressive, obviously bumped him, but if you look at it, I kind of tripped into it,” DeRozan said. “I’m not dumb. These days it’s just so hard to tell when you go back and look at a review. It wasn’t anything I was trying to do intentionally.”

KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes that DeRozan thought a foul should have been called when Green blocked his shot on the previous trip down court. Coach Billy Donovan told reporters that his players have to do a better job of not being affected by missed calls.

“We have to control ourselves and adjust to the officials,” Donovan said. “The crew that was on the game is a good crew. They’re good guys. They work extremely hard.”

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • Coby White came off the bench Thursday after missing the previous three games with a right hip injury, Cowley adds in a separate story. White has continued to serve as a vocal leader even when he hasn’t been able to play. “Because he has been on the bench, that’s helped in timeouts,” Donovan said. “He’s still stayed pretty active and pretty vocal, but I think he’s at a point and time in his career where he’s not afraid to speak up. It’s always about the team. It’s not about criticizing guys on what they should be doing. It’s more a good, positive vibe, but he’s even tried to do that while he’s been out these three games. But on the court that’s where you miss some of that, where he can talk some.”
  • Lonzo Ball, who hasn’t played since January 2022, posted a video of himself dunking twice in a row this week, tweets Julia Poe of The Chicago Tribune. The Bulls are optimistic that Ball can be ready for the start of next season if his injured left knee continues to improve, Poe adds in a full story.
  • There will be a market for DeRozan if the Bulls let him reach free agency, Johnson states in a mailbag column. DeRozan is eligible for a three-year extension worth $130MM through June 30, but Johnson suggests he might be willing to take roughly $70-74MM for two seasons, possibly with a team option for a third year.
  • There’s no reason to expect president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas or the rest of the front office to be replaced this summer, Johnson adds. He hears that management has given Karnisovas the freedom to proceed however he sees fit, even if that means a full rebuild, and says an active summer is likely upcoming.

Bulls Rumors: DeRozan, Drummond, Caruso, Williams

With Zach LaVine out for the rest of the season after opting for foot surgery, the Bulls‘ most important decision at the trade deadline will involve DeMar DeRozan, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

Mayberry believes the organization should think twice about committing big money to the 34-year-old forward, who will be a free agent this summer. DeRozan and the team haven’t been able to reach a deal in extension talks, and Mayberry questions whether it’s wise to keep the core of the team together amid another mediocre season.

Thursday’s deadline provides an immediate opportunity to part with DeRozan, Mayberry notes, adding that the Bulls should be able to obtain draft assets or young talent from a contender in need of a veteran scorer.

There’s also the possibility of an offseason sign-and-trade, but Mayberry points out that waiting until summer presents the risk of losing DeRozan in free agency with nothing in return. Holding DeRozan’s Bird rights, the Bulls will have the advantage of being able to offer him more money than rival teams, but Mayberry states that DeRozan won’t have any other reason to stay in Chicago if he wants to be part of a winner.

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • Veteran center Andre Drummond is a target of several teams, including the Celtics, Mavericks, Lakers and Suns, sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. He adds that the Rockets considered making an offer for Drummond before acquiring Steven Adams last week. Scotto points out that Drummond carries significant value for teams in need of rebounding as he’s collecting 18.9 boards per 36 minutes this season.
  • The Bulls are asking for two first-round picks in exchange for Alex Caruso, Scotto adds. In addition to being a defensive standout, Caruso is viewed as a bargain because of his $9.89MM salary for next season. Scotto also hears that teams are keeping an eye on the potential availability of Patrick Williams, who wasn’t able to reach a rookie scale extension agreement before the start of the season.
  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago examines the trading record of president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and speculates how it might influence the team’s direction at this year’s deadline.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, DeRozan, Donovan, Karnisovas

The Bulls‘ final chance to make a statement in the in-season tournament ended with a 27-point loss at Boston and that wasn’t the extent of the bad news, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Zach LaVine left the game midway through the third quarter with foot soreness, a condition that caused him to miss last Wednesday’s contest at Oklahoma City. DeMar DeRozan also got pulled from the game in the third quarter after getting knocked down on a foul and experiencing pain in his left ankle.

It has been a frustrating season for Chicago, which went 0-4 in the tournament and has now dropped eight of its last nine games. With trade rumors swirling around several players, LaVine said it’s important to focus on each game rather than the bigger picture.

“You go out there and play, man,” said LaVine, who added that he’s “day to day” with the soreness. “You got a lot of season left. You don’t play the scoreboard. You look at the standings, obviously. But you try to win every game you step into and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • Coach Billy Donovan tried a lineup change on Tuesday, starting Patrick Williams and moving Alex Caruso to the bench to stabilize the second unit, notes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Donovan continues to search for a spark that will snap the team out of its early-season funk. ‘‘Yeah, I take ownership in this, too, in terms of what I’ve got to do,” he told reporters. “I’m not obviously making the decisions that maybe (president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas) is making or Jerry and Michael (Reinsdorf) are making, and I’m not making decisions on the court that the players are making. But what do I have control over? What’s my responsibility? Where can I get better and how can I improve to help? I’m a big believer in you are what your record says you are. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Well, we had a couple of tough losses, and we could be .500.’ No, this is what we are, and how can we get better?’’
  • Blame for the Bulls’ failure should be directed at Karnisovas, who assembled a roster that ranks 26th in offense and 22nd in defense, states Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Mayberry argues that Karnisovas should have broken up the core of the team at the February trade deadline and could have done more in free agency than just signing Torrey Craig and Jevon Carter.
  • This season will be defined more by what Karnisovas can do on the trade market rather than wins and losses, Johnson states in a separate story. League sources tell Johnson that the organization is focused on finding an acceptable trade for LaVine, and Karnisovas is telling teams calling about other players that he wants to see what his roster looks like after a LaVine deal before beginning any of those discussions.

Central Notes: Karnisovas, Haliburton, Bitadze, Bickerstaff

Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas briefly addressed the media on Tuesday about his team’s slow start. Karnisovas expressed his disappointment and took his share of the blame for the team’s struggles, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago relays.

“We see what everyone is seeing and are just as frustrated,” he said. “We’re disappointed, but I’m not running from it. It’s my responsibility.”

A report from Johnson earlier in the week indicated that Karnisovas and coach Billy Donovan are in no imminent danger of losing their jobs.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Losing to Portland at home on Monday was more damaging than a typical defeat, in Tyrese Haliburton‘s view. It’s the type of matchup the Pacers can’t afford to lose in their quest for a postseason berth. “This is a bad loss,” Haliburton told Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star. “This is a really bad loss for us as a group. …  We’re just not playing well right now, being honest with you. These are habits of losing basketball to not alternate and to not win games that you’re supposed to.”
  • In a post for subscribers, Fieldhouse Files’ Scott Agness talks to former Pacers center Goga Bitadze about his time in Indiana. “It was rough,” Bitadze said. “Good. Ups and down. Mixed emotions overall.” Bitadze, a 2019 first-round pick who struggled to find a role with the Pacers, has started 12 of 15 games with Orlando this season, filling in for injured Wendell Carter Jr.
  • There’s intense pressure on Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff to win big this season, according to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. The organization believes it has to show that it made the right move by acquiring Donovan Mitchell in the blockbuster with Utah prior to last season. A strong year would also help secure Mitchell’s future with the franchise. Mitchell has an opt-out for the 2025/26 season and could always request a trade prior to that if things go sour.

Karnisovas, Donovan Appear To Be Safe In Chicago

Despite the Bulls‘ miserable start, president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and head coach Billy Donovan don’t seem to be in danger of getting fired, meaning any changes to turn the season around will have to focus on the roster, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Karnisovas “has been given the green light to try to fix the current mess,” according to Johnson, who notes that ownership is typically slow to make changes to its front office. Karnisovas received an extension in the spring, which indicates the organization still has confidence in him.

Donovan is “liked and respected by both ownership and management,” Johnson adds, plus he still has multiple years remaining on his contract extension. Johnson points out that the Reinsdorfs don’t like to pay fired coaches, so Donovan isn’t likely to be dismissed, although changes may be made to his coaching staff.

Chicago dropped to 5-13 with Sunday’s loss at Brooklyn, which marked its fourth straight defeat and the seventh in its last eight games. The players understand that they’re underperforming, according to Johnson, and they know that a quick turnaround is the only way to prevent a roster shakeup.

“Rumors come with the territory,” Nikola Vucevic said. “If you’re playing well, everything is great. Everybody is talking positive about you. If you’re losing, you get criticized and rumors start. We have to deal with that. The only way to deal with it is for us to play better. That’s the only way for that to stop.”

Johnson suggests the Bulls’ core problem may be a flawed roster built around Vucevic, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. He points out that those three players have been on the court together for 370 minutes so far this season and they have a net rating of minus-13.9.

Reports earlier this month indicated that LaVine and the organization are both open to finding a deal to send him elsewhere. However, the team has placed a high asking price on the 28-year-old guard and his pricey salary and injury history are limiting interest around the league.

DeRozan, who has an expiring $28.6MM contract and reportedly hasn’t made much progress in extension talks, is also considered to be a trade candidate, along with Alex Caruso, a defensive standout with a team-friendly deal. Most of the free agents who signed contracts this summer will become eligible to be traded on December 15, so that’s when the Bulls might become active if their record hasn’t improved.

The team’s stars are hoping that won’t happen, Johnson adds, but they know the only way to keep the current roster together is to start winning.

“We all get along,” LaVine said. “Nobody wants to be 5-13 or lose multiple games in a row. It doesn’t feel good. It didn’t feel like we’d be at this point now. But that’s our reality. So we have to figure out how to get out of that hole. Try to get a win. That’s all we try to worry about.”

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Donovan, Drummond, Karnisovas

After reports over the weekend indicated that the Bulls weren’t thrilled by Zach LaVine blowing off a post-game media interview on Saturday, head coach Billy Donovan addressed the issue on Monday, telling reporters that it has been handled internally, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. According to Johnson, LaVine apologized to and spoke at length to the PR employee he ignored after Saturday’s win.

“Me being here for the time that I’ve been here, I really think we have good quality people,” Donovan said. “That goes from players to medical to PR people. They’re really great people to work with. My thing is I want everybody to treat everybody with class and respect and help each other do their job. We all have jobs to do. And they’re difficult and demanding and there are emotions in that. My wish would be that everybody helps each other in doing their job to the best of their ability.”

As Johnson writes, LaVine has been accommodating to the media and represented the franchise professionally during his six-plus years in Chicago, so Saturday’s incident was an anomaly and drew greater scrutiny because the guard has been the subject of trade rumors as of late. However, Donovan said he likes what he’s seen from LaVine on the court recently and hasn’t noticed any changes in the 28-year-old’s demeanor behind the scenes.

“I did not see anything different from him in that locker room when I walked in (on Saturday),” Donovan said. “I didn’t get a guy who wasn’t in the locker room or in a different room or upset or pouting or turned around. I talked to him after the game. He talked to players after the game. I saw a normal Zach in there.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • For a second straight season, Andre Drummond is playing a limited role off the bench in Chicago. The two-time All-Star is averaging just 13.8 minutes per night, but has been productive in those minutes, putting up 6.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per night. As Johnson writes for NBC Sports Chicago, Drummond still believes he’s a starting-caliber center, but he has no complaints about coming off the bench for the Bulls. “I got a lot left in the tank, man. Still very healthy. Still very young,” he said on Monday. “I still have a lot left to give. I know my role for this team and what I have to give. So I try to do it to the best of my ability.”
  • Coming into this season, the Bulls had vowed to play faster, but that plan hasn’t panned out, notes Jamal Collier of ESPN.com. The club currently ranks 29th in the NBA in pace and 27th in offensive rating, and Donovan has acknowledged that Chicago isn’t going to be a “racehorse” team. “That’s fine, you can still be effective and productive,” Donovan said. “You have to play to your personnel and what you have.”
  • President of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas bears the brunt of the responsibility for the Bulls’ struggles this season, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, who writes that the front office’s bet on continuity looks like a failed one, with little reason to believe things will turn around anytime soon. The only question is how much longer Karnisovas will give the current group, says Mayberry.
  • In case you missed it, Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams are said to be the Bulls players generating the most intrigue among potential trade partners, as we relayed on Monday.

Bulls Reportedly Trying To Deal For Damian Lillard

The Bulls are trying to get involved in the bidding for Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports said on a podcast on Wednesday.

Neubeck hears that Chicago has been exploring the possibility of moving Zach LaVine in a multi-team deal to see if can get a combination of players and picks in return that would interest Portland. He notes that there were trade rumors circulating around LaVine earlier this summer, but the Bulls have publicly denied that he’s being made available.

Neubeck also admits that Lillard might not be happy on a team like Chicago, where his best teammates would be Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan. He adds that the Bulls may be the Eastern Conference mystery team in the Lillard race that ESPN’s Marc Spears alluded to earlier this week.

Derek Bodner confirms on the podcast that he has heard the Bulls mentioned in conversations with other reporters, but he calls it a “borderline crazy gamble.” Bodner believes there are teams that should call Lillard’s bluff about not wanting to play anywhere but Miami, such as the Sixers, who could become legitimate title contenders by pairing Lillard with Joel Embiid. However, he’s not convinced that Chicago would have that type of leverage if acquires Lillard.

Rich Hofman says the Bulls are in a desperate position, so a big swing on a Lillard-type deal might be understandable. He adds that team president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley may have to start worrying soon about their job security, but he doubts Chicago could make a run at a title even with Lillard on the team.

The three writers also considered the possibility of the Sixers making an offer for LaVine, but they agreed that it’s unlikely because of his contract. He’s entering the second season of a five-year, $215MM extension, and his salary will rise from $40MM to $48.9MM over the next four years.

Bulls Notes: Luxury Tax, Rotation, Williams, Dosunmu

The Bulls will likely be close to the luxury tax threshold all season, but K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago doesn’t expect them to be willing to end the year in tax territory. Executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas said on draft night that he would lobby ownership to pay the tax for a contender, but Johnson states that it’s hard to see him getting approval for a team that finished 10th in the East last season.

Johnson estimates that the Bulls are about $2.4MM away from tax territory with two open roster spots. He expects the team to unload point guard Carlik Jones, whose non-guaranteed $1.9MM salary is roughly the same as a veteran’s minimum contract, and try to get frontcourt help instead.

Johnson adds that filling both roster openings with minimum contracts would put Chicago slightly over the tax line. He expects management to keep one spot open heading into the season and see what opportunities become available to add players. The Bulls have about half of their $12.4MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception remaining, along with a $4.5MM bi-annual exception and a $10.2MM disabled player exception that was granted for Lonzo Ball‘s injury.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Billy Donovan‘s 10-man rotation appears set with training camp two months away, and the biggest questions seem to be who will start at point guard and power forward, Johnson adds in the same piece. If Donovan continues his emphasis on defense, Johnson expects newly acquired Torrey Craig to get the nod at power forward, with either Alex Caruso or free agent addition Jevon Carter running the point. The return of Derrick Jones Jr. or a free agent signing such as Rudy Gay could upend the current rotation, Johnson adds, possibly pushing out Andre Drummond.
  • Bulls officials want Patrick Williams to become more aggressive as he enters his fourth NBA season, according to Johnson. Williams returned from an injury to play all 82 games last season, and Johnson believes the organization should be patient with a player who won’t turn 22 until next month.
  • The Bulls may have slightly overpaid for Ayo Dosunmu, but keeping him on the roster was still a good move, contends Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The restricted free agent received $21MM over three years and now has to make a case for consistent playing time in a crowded backcourt.

Bulls Notes: Karnisovas, Williams, Beverley, DeRozan

The Bulls recently signed executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas to an extension without any public fanfare, a source told Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Although Chicago is coming off a 40-42 season and a play-in tournament exit, Mayberry points out that Karnisovas still has a strong relationship with chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf.

Despite the extension, there’s reason to believe the organization’s faith in Karnisovas may be declining, Mayberry adds. He notes that Karnisovas has let the last three windows for improvement — the past two trade deadlines and the 2022 offseason — pass without a significant roster upgrade, leaving Chicago stuck as roughly a .500 team with no obvious way to improve.

There’s still confidence within the organization that things are headed in the right direction, according to Mayberry. Insiders cite a cultural change since the new regime took over and point out that the Bulls had a top-five defense this season. However, until those improvements result in more wins, there’s a chance that a change will be eventually made at the top.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The success that Lauri Markkanen had in Utah should make the Bulls more reluctant to consider trading Patrick Williams this summer, Mayberry adds. He notes that Williams showed steady improvement after injuries limited him to 17 games last season and states that Chicago could use more players with Williams’ size and versatility.
  • Patrick Beverley quickly became a leader when he joined the Bulls in February, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The team went 14-9 after signing Beverley following a buyout, as he provided toughness along with a defensive presence. Johnson notes that Beverley recently said on his podcast that he wants a new contract starting at $15MM a year, but the Bulls only have his Non-Bird rights and are limited to a $3.8MM offer unless they use their mid-level exception.
  • The Bulls also face a decision on DeMar DeRozan, who will become eligible this summer for an extension worth up to $179MM over four years, Johnson states in a mailbag column. DeRozan has been an All-Star in both of his seasons with Chicago, but Johnson doesn’t believe the Bulls will rush into a decision — either by extending or trying to trade him.