From the moment the Bulls announced Arturas Karnisovas as their new VP of basketball operations, we’ve been reminded of his deliberately methodical evaluation process. And indeed, after a handful of quick moves right out of the gate (like firing Gar Forman and Jeff Tanaka before hiring J.J. Polk, Pat Connelly, and Marc Eversley) that’s exactly what we’ve seen – particularly from some notable GarPax leftovers, who’ve continued on business as usual.
For example, head coach Jim Boylen has so far been “empowered” by the new front office, while guys like Jim (not John) Paxson and Brian Hagan have both also done draft research, generally continuing to operate normally. All things considered, that doesn’t really sound like the dramatic overhaul we were sold when Karnisovas was brought aboard. And yes, there are still roughly five months before the Bulls are scheduled to play another game – so a lot can/will happen in the meantime – but the prospect of several new hires, including a new head coach, just doesn’t sound particularly likely. Not yet, at least.
If you recall, Karnisovas told reporters that he didn’t anticipate any more immediate changes to the front office during his press conference in June. And his evaluation process with respect to Boylen is expected to take until at least September (when the hope is the non-restart teams will be allowed to participate in more formal group activities).
Sure, we can say the timetable isn’t too important and all that matters is the restructuring continues in good faith sometime this offseason. But I’m not sure it’s actually the best option for Karnisovas/Eversley/the Bulls to use all this time just because they can.
The Athletic’s John Hollinger recently discussed as much, when addressing the ongoing coaching situation in Chicago:
Moreover, time is more crucial here than some may think. From my experience on the front office side, this is definitely the type of thing you want to deal with right now, while the clock is stopped. Trying to interview coaches in September and October, when the draft and free agency quickly take over your life, will just pile on craziness for a new group that already has several important decisions ahead of it.
Uh, that’s a good point, right?
The Bulls may not be the most flexible team this offseason, but Karnisovas and Eversley will surely add a couple of new faces to this roster. As the 2020-21 NBA season nears, all of the focus should be on developing players and building a better team. Why try to cram in a coaching search during that time when you can do it now? After all, these two new front office leaders are supposedly gym junkies. Once formal group activities start, the more time they spend interviewing coaches, the less time they have to evaluate talent.
Not to mention, if they feel like a new head coach is the way to go, why wouldn’t they want that person in the gym come September? In my opinion, a team that hires a new coach right now could set themselves up for more success at the start of the season – for any number of reasons. Think about it, the new coach would have a good amount of time to develop a relationship with his players and implement whatever system he/she wants to run, to say nothing of building a rapport with the front office, with whom they’ll have to coordinate on any number of personnel and strategic decisions.
Even though the front office has more time than normal to evaluate their organizational pieces, they also have more time than normal to implement a new culture with new personnel. The latter seems like it has its fair share of advantages, and I hope they keep that in mind.