Arturas Karnisovas is the tortoise … we’re the hare.
From the moment the Chicago Bulls hired Karnisovas, we hoped he’d throw a metaphorical molotov cocktail right through the front office window and start from scratch. In reality, he hasn’t come within throwing distance. Thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Karnisovas has been stuck outside of the Chicagoland area as he’s tried to reinvent this front office from afar.
He did manage to fire general manager Gar Forman and replace him with respected 76ers executive Marc Eversley. He added cap specialist JJ Polk as an assistant general manager and named expert scout Pat Connelly to the vice president of player personnel role. We also saw the firing of head athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka and the departure of player development coach Shawn Respert.
So, yes, changes have been made, but Karnisovas is prepared to take his time moving forward.
Working under unprecedented circumstances with what looks to be a nine-month offseason, Karnisovas will improve this organization at his own pace (as unsatisfying as that may be to us). On Saturday morning, the new vice president of basketball operations spoke with the media and affirmed this sentiment: we’re all going to have to be patient.
“I know that you are anxious for me to comment definitively on our future of the Chicago Bulls,” Karnisovas said. “I understand that anticipation. That said, I take pride in being deliberate and thoughtful in my decision-making and take the weight of my decisions seriously. I’m not inclined to make evaluations prematurely to satisfy our excitement to move this team forward.”
Wishful thinking led us to believe the moment the Bulls season officially ended, Jim Boylen would be drop-kicked out of the Advocate Center. And while it still feels safe to believe Karnisovas will put on those cleats eventually, he’s going to practice what he preaches.
Here’s his full quote on the head coach’s future (h/t KC Johnson):
“Coaching in the league is very difficult. To make a decision about coaching is really hard. It’s probably the hardest thing for executives. So I look at a lot of aspects. I’ve had numerous conversations. That said, I’d like to be in a building, to be in practices, to be around the coaching staff in meetings. We’re looking forward to getting in the video room together, analyze the games, to watch games together. They defintiely underperformed. Watching games, I’m excited to watch because there’s a lot of talent on this team. In order for me to keep players and coaches accountable, I have to have personal relationships with them. That’s what I need to cultivate. That’s my objective this offseason.”
I think we can read this quote in two ways, both of which result in a Boylen firing:
(1) “I have a system, and I want to run things the right way. I need face-to-face interaction to truly evaluate and assess the situation. I will follow the protocol I want this organization to have in place moving forward, even if that means prolonging a decision that seems inevitable.”
(2) “Firing someone you’ve never met in person is hard, and even if he’s the most hated man in Chicago, I need to set an example moving forward.”
All recent reports have indicated that Boylen will be out of the picture come the start of the 2020-21 season. I’m frustrated it hasn’t happened yet, but I understand the reasoning, and I respect the transparency (something this organization aggressively lacked over many years).
In addition to the unclear Boylen timeline, Karnisovas also told us we shouldn’t expect any more massive change (for now).
Initiate full-blown tortoise mode.
Arturas Karnisovas doesn’t envision any more immediate changes in the #Bulls front office.
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) June 6, 2020
I’ll be interested to see how long he sticks to those words. We’ve not only heard in the past that this new front office would have multiple assistant general managers, but that bolstering the player development department was a must. My theory is he’s waiting for the NBA to re-enter some level of normalcy to hire any new folks. Most teams will begin to reconvene at the end of this month, and 22 will be headed to the Orlando bubble at the beginning of July. Ripping hires away from other organizations isn’t going to be the most practical right now (nor the most respectful).
In a lot of ways, I think this also plays into the coaching situation. If guys like Adrian Griffin (Raptors assistant) and Ime Udoka (76ers assistant) are truly on the table for the Bulls head coaching job, we need to remember both are with teams that will be extremely busy over the next couple of months.
None of this means he isn’t prepared to confront the in-house problems though. As he said during the interview, there will be no more excuses.
Arturas Karnisovas on #Bulls: “I will cultivate a selfless attitude with the players. There will not be any excuses … This group is too talented not to perform better.”
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) June 6, 2020
At the end of the day, I know all of this may not be exactly what we want to hear, but don’t jump the gun and begin to question this new leadership. Karnisovas and Eversley have taken over the organization in a complicated and (literally) never-before-seen time.
We might be ready to break out into a full-on sprint, but there’s a long road ahead of us, and Karniosvas knows that.
Slow and steady wins the race.