The League Is Looking at the Bulls Head Coaching Position as a Status Check on Karnisovas' Autonomy

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The League Is Looking at the Bulls Head Coaching Position as a Status Check on Karnisovas’ Autonomy

Chicago Bulls

When we learned that the organization finally decided to turnover the front office, it felt like having Michael Jordan throw you the assist on a game-winning 3-pointer … only to then run down the court and shrug in unison with the GOAT (a.k.a. a dream come true).

For the first time in a long time, Bulls fans got exactly what they wanted after years of disappointment and angst. Gar Forman was almost immediately shown the door, while John Paxson has been reassigned to a do-nothing position. Arturas Karnisovas took over as VP of basketball operations, hiring cap specialist J.J. Polk and expert scout Pat Connelly. He also found himself an exciting No. 2 in former 76ers executive Marc Eversley.

Notably, each of these hires came from outside the organization, bucking a Reinsdorfian trend that left the franchise far behind the rest of the league. Indeed, by hiring Karnisovas and Eversley, the Bulls finally opened the door for legitimate, foundational change. But then we must still proceed cautiously. After all, the last thing we want is to go full-on Wile E. Coyote – sprint right at this beautiful door only to end up pancaked on the side of a boulder. Idiot.

The Bulls have said all the right things thus far, but as Jim Boylen remains at the helm of this young roster, it’s hard for those words to carry much weight. In fact, according to NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh, people around the league have been impressed with the Bulls’ new hires, but the lack of immediate action has created a hesitation to believe things have actually changed for the better.

“If Arturas or Marc believe that they need a new voice running the team and they are met with some reservations from either ownership or from elsewhere, do they have the autonomy to make that decision? Or is it going to be a situation where, ‘Hey, we don’t want to pay another head coach, we already have this deal with Jim Boylen, we don’t want to have to pay another coach to be in here.’ I think that’s going to be an indicator of how things are going to be running going forward.

People around the league are very, very impressed (with the hires) that they’ve made. But I do think they want to see how much autonomy, in reality. They can say all they want now in press conferences, but we’ll see when push comes to shove whether they’re going to have full autonomy making decisions about not just the head coach but just everything in the organization” (via the Bulls Talk Podcast).

From the beginning, these new positions were reportedly pitched as fully autonomous. And while there were never any direct reports about candidates steering clear of an interview due to hierarchal concerns, I don’t think it’s crazy to believe it has at least been a topic of conversation among league executives. The fact we haven’t seen a coaching search yet is also legitimization those concerns, to an extent (though we don’t fully/technically know the reason for that delay).

Is Boylen still around because of Reinsdorf likes the guy? Or because he doesn’t want to pay two coaches? Does Karnisovas truly believe Boylen is a misunderstood head coach, who just needs a little motivation? Or does he fully intend on beginning a coaching search, but will do so on his own terms and timeline? And what about the pandemic? Are the ever-changing financial projects simply delaying (not postponing) that decision? Is the bubble affecting the ability to interview desirable candidates? Etc. Some of those theories are more likely than others, but the point remains there are a lot of unknowns.

For what it’s worth, Haberstroh went on to say that all signs point to full power for Karnisovas thus far. But yet again, the rest of the NBA is waiting patiently in a “we’ll believe it when we see it” manner.

“All indications are that they’re going to have that full autonomy. But I think from around the league that is the big question mark, and they’re watching the head coaching position.”

I mean, it’s basically like this organization has a boatload of newfound momentum ready to dock at Navy Pier, but they refuse to tie it up. Why risk letting it float away? What are the Bulls gaining from this?

A completely fresh start is needed in Chicago, and that includes a new head coach. Letting Boylen go not only improves the team, but it sure sounds like it’ll further improve the organization’s reputation. This is pretty much the last piece of the overhaul puzzle, so let’s put it in place already.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.