J.J. Polk

Bulls Officially Hire Pat Connelly, J.J. Polk

The Bulls have officially finalized two long-awaited hires, announcing today in a press release that Pat Connelly has come aboard as the team’s vice president of player personnel, while J.J. Polk will hold the title of assistant general manager.

The additions of both Connelly and Polk were reported last month even before the club had officially announced the hiring of new executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas or decided on Marc Eversley as its new general manager. The Bulls continue to revamp their front office after parting ways with longtime GM Gar Forman and reassigning executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson to an advisory role.

Connelly, like Karnisovas, is joining the Bulls after spending time in Denver, where he was the Nuggets’ director of pro personnel. The brother of Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, Pat will oversee the structure and processes of Chicago’s scouting department, according to today’s announcement.

As for Polk, he arrives in Chicago after serving as the Pelicans’ executive director of basketball administration. The Bulls announced today that he’ll primarily be responsible for “strategic planning and salary cap management,” in addition to providing input on player personnel decisions.

“Pat and J.J. both bring valuable experience that will enhance our basketball operations department,” Karnisovas said in a statement. “I know that the skills these two possess will be an asset in building out our program. J.J.’s expertise with cap management and negotiations will help us be creative in our deals and contracts, while Pat’s great eye for talent, global contacts and networking capabilities will organize our scouting department in a productive way. Combined, these two basketball minds will help increase functionality and implement our vision of moving this program forward.”

Bulls To Hire Sixers’ Marc Eversley As GM

Two weeks after formally hiring Arturas Karnisovas as their new executive VP of basketball operations, the Bulls have chosen a general manager who will work with Karnisovas in their new-look front office. The club is hiring Sixers senior VP of player personnel Marc Eversley to fill that GM role, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Eversley was one of several candidates to interview for the general manager position following Chicago’s hiring of Karnisovas and the team’s dismissal of longtime GM Gar Forman. Matt Lloyd (Magic), Mark Hughes (Clippers), and Michael Finley (Mavericks) were among the other executives known to have spoken to the Bulls about the job.

Before reaching a deal late on Sunday night to join the Bulls, Eversley worked in the 76ers’ front office since 2016, when he was hired by the club’s former head of basketball operations, Bryan Colangelo. Eversley, a Canadian, also previous worked under Colangelo in the Raptors’ front office, with a stint as a Wizards exec in between. Prior to his time in NBA team front offices, he spent a decade working at Nike, per Wojnarowski.

This was at least the second time Eversley had interviewed for a GM job, having lost out to Mitch Kupchak on the Hornets’ position in 2018. He was also believed to be a candidate to replace Colangelo as Philadelphia’s head of basketball operations that year, but Elton Brand ultimately took over GM duties.

As Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer details, Eversley was largely responsible for the Sixers zeroing in on Matisse Thybulle in last year’s draft and was also the first to recognize DeMar DeRozan‘s talent during his time in Toronto’s scouting department.

After the Bulls faced some criticism for a lack of diversity in their search for a head of basketball operations, Eversley will become the first black GM in team history, as Wojnarowski notes.

While Karnisovas and Eversley figure to run the show in Chicago’s revamped front office, the team is making additional changes. As previously reported, J.J. Polk and Pat Connelly are coming aboard in key roles — Woj suggests they’ll hold the titles of assistant GM and VP of player personnel, respectively. Meanwhile, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago says that more hires are likely coming, singling out Nazr Mohammed as one executive who interviewed for an “unspecified role.”

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).

Bulls To Hire J.J. Polk As Assistant GM

Although the Bulls have yet to officially announce the hiring of Arturas Karnisovas, it appears that the team’s new head of basketball operations has already lined up the first new addition to his management group. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter), Chicago is hiring Pelicans executive J.J. Polk as an assistant general manager.

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter links) first identified Polk as a candidate to join the Bulls and noted that he would likely be made an assistant GM.

Polk, known for his salary cap expertise, held the title of executive director of basketball administration in New Orleans. He has a connection to the Chicago area, having earned his law degree at the University of Illinois.

Karnisovas and the Bulls figure to continue filling out the front office in the coming days and weeks and are expected to hire at least one more assistant GM in addition to Polk, according to Johnson (Twitter link).