Bulls head athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka is the most recent casualty of the Arturas Karnisovas led organizational overhaul.
Here’s the latest:
Arturas Karnisovas has chosen not to pick up the option on head athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka’s contract, per the Bulls. Director of Sports Performance Chip Schaefer will remain in his role. @JCowleyHoops 1st with news.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 20, 2020
Tanaka first arrived in Chicago back in 2008, after spending ten seasons with the San Francisco 49ers as an assistant athletic trainer. He began his time with the Bulls organization in a similar capacity, before seeing a promotion to the top job in 2014.
Over the last several seasons, however, the Bulls medical staff has been caught under fire. While Tanaka seems to be highly respected around league circles, the team’s overall health has too regularly been suspect. And while it’s true that too much blame can often be placed at the feet of the athletic trainers for injuries that are ultimately out of their control, that doesn’t mean there aren’t improvements to be made. Indeed, when we see guys struggle to stay on the court as frequently as we do in Chicago, it certainly makes you begin to question the practices going on behind the scenes.
Not only on injury evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment, but also, perhaps even more importantly, injury prevention:
Bottom 4/5 last year as well. Denver near the top of the league in games missed due to injurypic.twitter.com/duquJqKwdY
— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) May 20, 2020
In recent history, we’ve seen guys like Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter, and Kris Dunn miss a significant amount of time with lingering injury trouble. Again, it’s hard to put that on any one person, but perhaps Karnisovas just saw this as an area where a fresh set of eyes and ideas was necessary.
Tanka now joins former general manager Gar Forman and former director of player development Shawn Respert as members of the previous front office to be let go. Karnisovas is slowly but surely fixing this infrastructure, and I’d expect plenty of more names to be removed/added over the coming weeks. Keep an eye out!