The dream of a new front office in Chicago is on the cusp of reality.
Last night we got a better idea of whom the Bulls new executive vice president of basketball operations might be, and according to Yahoo Sports, Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas is the front runner to land the gig. Fine by me! After the report surfaced, NBC Sports Chicago and ESPN 1000’s David Kaplan had plenty to say on Twitter, and he continued that conversation on ESPN 1000’s Kap & Company this morning.
Kaplan said he believed Karnisovas virtual interview would happen at some point today, but also made it sound like the Bulls had already prepared to offer him the all-mighty seat:
Arturas Karnisovas is the guy. This is the guy, it’s his job if he wants it. Now, could he say he doesn’t want it? I guess. But I talked to a very close friend of his last night and he told me Arturas is telling him ‘I’m taking that job.'”
Kaplan went on to mention that he would not be shocked to see a deal done within the next four or five days, which tracks with K.C. Johnson’s report mentioning a resolution either this or next week.
And if you ask me, let’s sign the paperwork and get this show on the road. Karnisovas may not engender the same level of prestige as someone like Masai Ujiri or Sam Presti, but he holds his own in the upper-tier of front office executives. Respected across league circles for the work he’s done internationally as well as in the NBA (specifically with respect to the Nuggets organization), his presence should immediately lift the Bulls to new heights and hopefully turn the page.
And, remember: The sooner the Bulls make this official, the sooner this new hire can begin working on the rest of the front office. Kaplan reiterated that the Bulls plan is to make sweeping changes to their scouting department, player development, and coaching staff.
I already know what you’re thinking, and, yes, you’re going to like the answer.
According to Kaplan, there is “no chance” Jim Boylen will be coaching this team next season. So … REJOICE! When word first broke that the Bulls would officially move forward with a new front office leader, I assumed Boylen would soon be shown the door. Of course, that was an assumption in the face of the Reinsdorfs’ reported intentions to keep him around. However, reports have also since indicated that whomever is hired to lead the organization will have complete control over the coaching staff. And frankly, I have no idea who’d come into Chicago to lead and decide to keep Boylen around.
(Michael: Even if you kinda liked the guy, it would be a sure-fire way to get off to a terrible start with the rest of us).
As for John Paxson, the rollercoaster continues. Kaplan says Paxson is not on his way out of the organization, despite the Sun-Times report regarding his willingness to leave the franchise. Now, Kaplan did confirm that report (i.e. Paxson is willing to leave), but it seems the plan remains for him to move into some sort of small advisory role for now. Still, Kaplan repeated hammered home that Paxson will have absolutely “zero say” in basketball operations … but there’s a little catch. Although the Karnisovas interview hasn’t even happened yet – making it tough to say for sure what this real means – Kaplan did mention that Karnisovas told a friend of his “I have no problem with Pax being around, I like the guy.” Believe that all you want, it’s all a little fuzzy and second-hand right now.
As for that Gar Forman guy, he’s reportedly out the door, which has kind of been the feeling since the beginning of the season.
Anyway, with all the worry about candidates interest in this Chicago job, Kaplan added that he spoke earlier this morning with an NBA head coach who had high remarks for a job in this organization:
“Is it a good job? Dude! That’s one of the best jobs in the league. I’m amazed that there are people out there who think that’s a bad job.” He said, “You’ve got amazing fans, amazing city, amazing facilities, an owner that’ll be as loyal as they come.” He said, “Guys are lining up like planes at O’hare to get that job.”
Either Kaplan put a little extra flare on that one or this “head coach” is John Paxson in a mustache. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been an advocate for Chicago being an intriguing opening from the start (and even Woj called it an “elite” opportunity), but I also think there are plenty of topics that would need to be fleshed out in the interview room. While the Bulls do have a very solid list of candidates, if this quote were exactly right, Masai Ujiri would be signing his contract right now.
Alas, let’s not dwell on that. The Bulls are on the verge of finally making their first big front office change in nearly 20 years. I’ll take that as a win.