According to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson, Bulls’ director of player development Shawn Respert will not be retained after his contract expires at the end of the 2019-20 season. With Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley now at the helm of the organization, a revamped played development department has been placed at the top of the to-do list.
Shawn Respert will not return as Bulls' director of player development | NBC Sports Chicago https://t.co/Eu4CmbrE4n
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 14, 2020
Eversley, specifically, has made this a clear goal from Day 1, and during his introductory press conference told reporters he was “surprised” to see the organization employed only one mind on player development. He reiterated this point to radio broadcaster Chuck Swirsky in a 1-on-1 interview, calling the situation “not ideal” and stressing the need to beef up this department (for more on the Bulls newfound focus on player development, make sure check this out).
So, ultimately, to see the Bulls start completely from scratch in this department isn’t too surprising. On the other hand, the person who apparently made the decision not to retain Respert is VERY surprising.
Check out what Johnson wrote in his report:
In a sign that executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas is leaving coaching staff decisions to Jim Boylen for now, this was Boylen’s call. Boylen, who coached Respert at Michigan State, appreciated Respert’s commitment to player development but has five assistant coaches on staff.
Wait, why was this Boylen’s call?
The fact that Boylen has literally any say in the coaching staff is moderately surprising, especially with the overwhelming expectation that he’ll be fired. I suppose I can imagine a scenario in which Karnisovas and Eversley planned to move on from Respert anyway, so when Boylen came to them with the idea they said “sure, why not.” But still. It’s odd.
And to that end, was this a move on Boylen’s part to create a better image for himself? Certainly he’s heard his new bosses distaste for the current player development infrastructure in Chicago, so perhaps he went ahead and suggested moving on from Respert to try to bolster his own footing. I mean, after his awkward press release after Karnisovas was hired, I wouldn’t put it past him. Though we’re obviously just speculating. I find it interesting. And unfortunately, it only gets more confusing from there.
At the same time, Johnson does report that Respert’s “future focus is advancing as a coach.” At when you consider that angle, it does seem plausible that this entire decision was actually in the hands of Respert.
Go ahead and read the quote Johnson shared:
“I want to grow. The Bulls gave me an opportunity, and I feel I outgrew it. I hope I left the organization in a better place. That’s all I tried to do.”
Well, now. That certainly seems like it was at least mutual, right? If not something Respert actively sought out.
To muddy this up further, Johnson ALSO says Karnisovas and Respert have a “strong relationship” from their past together in the league office and with the Houston Rockets. So if Respert wanted to shift into a different role within the organization, it doesn’t seem crazy to believe he could have actually been one of the current staff members retained through the overhaul.
Honestly, who made the decision probably doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it was made, but it should be a priority for this organization to be as transparent as possible during this transition. Bulls fans are already constantly on edge, so the clearer Karnisovas and Eversley can be, the better.