Bulls: evaluation of the first season of Artūras Karnišovas as executive vice president

How to judge Arturas Karnišovas’ first season as executive vice president of basketball operations for the Chicago Bulls?

On the one hand, each of its significant movements has above all elicited praise in the court of public opinion. But on the court, the Bulls didn’t make it through the play-in tournament, which isn’t a small detail in an average Eastern conference.

The Bulls enter the offseason in an intriguing position. Internally, excitement, optimism and momentum are rampant. Externally, it remains necessary for achievements to exceed expectations.

“We will continue to be aggressive in our efforts to improve this team, whether through trades, free will or the draft. We will not be satisfied with mediocrity here ”, Karnišovas said following exit interviews with the players. “We have an important summer ahead. We will be evaluating this season and aligning our priorities for the offseason. “

If nothing else, Karnišovas proven that he and his staff are process-oriented workers who leap up quickly aggressively? when they see an opportunity. Just look at the timeline of Karnišovas“Short term.”

Fired Jim Boylen

After hiring general manager Marc Eversley, vice president of player personnel Pat Connelly and assistant general manager JJ Polk to form his inner circle, Karnišovas Boylen dismissed. Karnišovas explained his decision to take four months to make a largely speculated decision since he was hired.

Officially the last day of the regular season is today, ”he said in August 2020.“ So I thought the timing was right, to get into the lottery and the draft process and that’s a official offseason for us. We thought it was good timing.

Karnišovas settled the outside noise to take his time and build his case to present to the property, which endorsed the previous regime’s recommendation to expand Boylen. And he had a logical date to then act on his decision.

Hired Billy Donovan

Karnišovas interviewed more than 10 candidates, a pool that, in addition to former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, was largely made up of assistant coaches looking for their first opportunity. Sources at the time indicated that Denver Nuggets main assistant Wes Unseld Jr. was at least one of the main contenders.

But when Billy Donovan suddenly broke away from the planned rebuilding of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Karnišovas swiveled quickly.

The story is now well documented. Karnišovas called Donovan while driving from Oklahoma City to his Florida home and asked to visit him immediately. Donovan needed some time with his family but quickly connected with Karnišovas and Eversley on their first visit.

Those who played for Billy trust his strong coaching skills and, perhaps more importantly, trust him as a person ”. Karnišovas said when hiring Donovan. “In all of my conversations and personal encounters with Billy, two things stood out: First, he is a great communicator and values ​​his relationships with others. And second, it has the ability to inspire enthusiasm in others to strive for a common goal.

Players praised Donovan’s leadership and transparent communication throughout the season. The big money movement Donovan’s $ 6million salary overshadows what any new coach would have ordered present Karnišovas“Ability to change plans depending on the opportunity, which could come into play this offseason.

For example, let’s say hypothetically that Karnišovas is prioritizing restricted free agent Lonzo Ball to resolve the playmaker issue. But if Ball lands with the New York Knicks, which is a strong possibility based on gossip in some league circles, he’ll have to pivot .

Extended player development team

Karnišovas is building a department that he and Eversley have targeted as being too small. And, in the case of player development coordinators Henry Domercant, Ronnie Burrell, Ty Abbott and Max Rothschild, he added an intriguing element in doing so.

“When we’re in practice and maybe we can’t have 5v5 or a lot of contact, it’s invaluable that these player development guys go through the other team’s games or go through different things defensively. that we can really keep. It has been really helpful, ”Donovan said of the former players. “And these guys have developed a great relationship with the players because there’s a lot of sweaty equity where they invest a lot of time with them personally. When you can have someone to hit against consistently to really work on your game, that will only make you better.

Drafted Patrick Williams and Marko Simonović

Having worked for a Nuggets franchise that landed Nikola Jokić and Monte Morris in the second round of the draft, Karnišovas’ past creates an intrigue for Simonović. Karnišovas said the 6-foot-11 stretch four “is in our plans, of course”, but would not commit to doing so for next season.

As for Williams, a word was leaked late before the project Karnišovas had perfected himself on the physical wing of the state of Florida, even although Williams did not start but completed most of the games in his freshman year. Williams has shown both major potential and bouts of passivity during his mostly solid rookie season, which has seen him start and manage tough defensive assignments.

Both choices could be seen as unconventional. But they underline Karnišovas’ confidence in his screening process and that of his team. This obviously has to be followed by more draft hits than misses as Karnišovas begins to shape the franchise and roster into his philosophy.

Signed Garrett Temple

The move didn’t move the needle much and surprised those, including NBC Sports Chicago, who thought he would address the playmaker. But Temple has proven to be a solid defenseman and mostly reliable shooter. , who has shown leadership and tenacity.

Whether the Temple returns or not is less important than the point Karnišovas identify actors who meet specific needs. In Temple’s case, while not addressing the leader, he provided leadership and defensive courage that helped build the culture for a new regime.

Transaction deadline

This is the big one. He is the one that made the franchise from a young and developing team to a win-immediate mode. That the acquisitions of Nikola Vučević ‘, Daniel Theis, Troy Brown Jr., Al-Farouq Aminu and Javonte Green did not immediately produce a playoff berth is troubling, especially since Karnišovas sacrificed two first-round picks and Theis could be headed elsewhere in free will.

But the old managerial regime had been criticized for being too conservative. These moves, while certainly risky, provided a base of two All-Star players to build around.

And so now Karnišovas and its staff must make it work. They must approach the post of leader word in the league, for the second consecutive offseason, is that it is a priority and fill the background of the list with developing items, no dead weight. Historically, the property has frowned on buyouts, but now contracts like Cristiano Felício expire and give management ample opportunity to reshape the roster with several open spots.

There is still a lot of work to do. But the hope internally is that a revamped roster and a more normal season will produce a dynamic squad to live up to the franchise’s positive momentum.

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