When Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley took over the Bulls front office in May, their first offseason felt un-screw-up-able. The mere fact that their names did not start with Gar or Pax had fans on their side from day one, but the general praise from across the league – on the strength of their individually impressive resumes – sparked some very easily observable momentum.
Momentum that continued through each leader’s introductory press conference: Karnisovas told reporters “I was hired to effect change on the current situation” when asked about his decision to quickly fire Gar Forman. And Eversley said one of his mottos is “players-first” and labeled it as the new mentality for the Bulls front office. Those comments felt like a swig of yellow Gatorade after getting your ass whooped on the court in 98-degree heat. Refreshing.
Unfortunately, it looks like all the Gatorade bottle had left was that singular gulp. “Change” and “players-first” have taken a bit longer than expected to become the Bulls M.O. In fact, all we’ve seen thus far is more of the same. Staff turnover has come almost completely to a halt, and rumors of a Jim Boylen return are starting to stick. Not only is this concerning to every Bulls fan out there, but it’s also apparently a cause for concern with the players as well.
According to the Sun-Times, there is worry that player input is not holding as much weight as initially expected, which … sigh.
As one Bulls player told the Sun-Times on Wednesday, however, the growing concern is no current player is really being listened to. LaVine, several veterans, a seemingly disgruntled rookie, no one.
For a new-look front office that came out on Day 1 and said they would build a foundation on being “players first,’’ it’s now starting to feel like they’re not even in the top three.
Why can’t we just have nice things?
For the players to potentially not feel listened to this early is a horrible look for this new regime – especially considering Eversley’s strong player-first declaration and the importance of free agency in the modern NBA. Of course, this is only coming from one player, but considering the lack of initiative we’ve seen recently, I don’t think it’s crazy to believe a good chunk of the roster feels similarly. After all, (I probably don’t have to remind you) multiple key players reportedly ripped Boylen earlier this offseason.
We’ve learned recently the majority of the roster has been at the Advocate Center for voluntary workouts. And think about how awkward it must be for several of these players to walk past Boylen and a number of GarPax leftovers after openly voicing their displeasure with the direction of the franchise. Chances are, they expected plenty of change by now, and the more they’re around the training facility, the more worried they become that this change isn’t coming this offseason.
Maybe I’m just projecting, but the disappointment is palpable.
So, I have to ask, what the hell are we doing? If this report is true, Karnisovas and Eversley are pretty much doing the opposite of what they were brought in to do. The goal was to ease tension and get this organization back on the right track. We can continue to talk about all this time the front office has left this offseason, but building a new culture and reputation takes time. In other words, the Bulls shouldn’t take their time because they have the time (which I wrote more about the other day).
(Michael: Allow me to add that not only are these changes needed within the organization for the obvious, fundamental improvements to be had, but also for appearances. Eli touched on it above, but we really need to hammer it home: The Bulls MUST appear to all outside sources that they are a franchise renewed – from the actual personnel, to the way they go about their business. Being a player-first organization isn’t only about listening to players because they have good ideas (which they often do), it’s ALSO to show other players around the league that their voices will be heard. The Bulls must make Chicago a desirable location to play, and so far they have only begun to work on that. Finish the job.)