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Bulls Hiring JJ Polk, Reportedly as One of MULTIPLE Assistant GMs

Chicago Bulls

Just over a day after Arturas Karnisovas agreed to be the Chicago Bulls new executive vice president of basketball operations, it appears he’s already hard at work.

According to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson, the Bulls are planning to hire multiple assistant general managers, and Karnisovas has made his first decision:

J.J. Polk is the director of basketball administration for the New Orleans Pelicans. Prior to his time in New Orleans, he was an associate lawyer for six years at a Real Estate and Banking Practice Group (and he earned his law degree from the University of Illinois … so here is my obligatory I-L-L!), and before that, he played professional basketball overseas. Overall, the guy has had a pretty interesting career path, and today he’s considered to be quite the NBA cap specialist.

Once Polk officially joins the fray, I suppose it’s possible he’ll work alongside current assistant GM Steve Weinman. Johnson reported that – with his own salary cap knowledge – Weinman is likely to be among the front office faces that survive the overhaul. However, thanks to a story by The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry earlier this season, we learned Weinman is also considered the team’s “analytics guy.” So … perhaps he’ll move into a new-look analytics department? We’ll find out soon enough.

In any case, coming from two very modern front-office environments in Houston and Denver, I’m sure Karnisovas wants to make quick work of turning the Bulls into a more diverse and deep organization. As several recent reports have pointed out, the Bulls have historically held one of the smallest front offices in the NBA, which … just be happy things are changing. Adding multiple assistant GMs, then, could allow for executives to hyper-focus in specific areas, while also providing a stronger voice when it comes to the team’s inner-workings.

It hasn’t taken very long to recognize Karnisovas’ preference for collaboration, which is more or less necessary in today’s rapidly growing league. Freelancer Stephen Noh recently penned a great post about Karnisovas’ background, and inside he shared this quote from an interview Karnisovas had with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix:

“Inclusivity for me is a huge thing. Hiring intelligent, passionate people. Being fair with people and put them in a position to do their jobs, not to micromanage them. I think with personnel and surrounding yourself with people is the [same] way you deal with players. You project what they’re going to be in two or three years. Hopefully you select personnel that have potential to be GMs in the future. You’re going to help them to get there and be proud when they accomplish that.”

Ah, the multiple assistant GM hires makes even more sense now.

If the Bulls wanted to greatly expand their front office, they seem to have found the right guy for the job. I just love thinking about Karnisovas signing the paperwork, and then getting his first real look at the Bulls small front office. I can’t help but think it’s like when an elite athlete in a movie has to join the underdog team full of nerds and scrawny wimps.

He knows it’s time to get to work!



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is a writer for Bleacher Nation and a human being. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.