Arturas Karnisovas Flew to Florida to Sell Billy Donovan on the Head Coach Job

Social Navigation

Arturas Karnisovas Flew to Florida to Sell Billy Donovan on the Head Coach Job

Chicago Bulls

What Arturas Karnisovas wants … Arturas Karnisovas gets.

The Chicago Bulls new executive vice president of basketball operations wasn’t shy about his interest in recent head coach hire Billy Donovan. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Karnisovas had monitored the Donovan situation closely, and immediately after Donovan decided not to re-sign with the Thunder, Karnisovas made plans to meet with him.

“When Billy Donovan walked away from the OKC job, Arturas Karnisovas  – the new executive VP in Chicago – wanted to meet with him right away,” Woj said on the Keshawn, JWill, & Zubin Podcast on ESPN. “They were waiting to see if he would pry loose from the Thunder. Karnisovas flew down to Florida, to Billy Donovan’s home, and met with him a few days after that and really started to sell him on the idea, get to know him. They didn’t know each other very well, two former Big East guys but from a little different eras. Chicago had interviewed a number of guys, but, for the Bulls, I think a big part of this for Chicago was to have a guy that had done this before.”

How awesome is Karnisovas? I have no doubt the fact he immediately went out of his way to speak with Donovan face-to-face left quite the impression. And if this happens to be an indication of the effort Karnisovas puts in and the results he can get, the Bulls are in excellent hands.

Many expected Karnisovas to go with someone he knew – Wes Unseld Jr. became the speculated front-runner for this reason. Instead, he did the exact opposite. Karnisovas and Donovan have rarely, if ever, crossed paths, and that’s another reason why this whole thing feels so damn impressive. Karnisovas was able to click almost instantly with the top head coach candidate on the market. Even better, he managed to sell him on a comfortable and bright future, which is something this organization has failed to do time and again.

“I think Billy Donovan felt a connection with the people there and felt like it was a place he wanted to go to work every day,” Woj said on the Woj Pod.

When the hell is the last time a quote like that would’ve ever been said about the Chicago Bulls?

For years, this organization had been know in the NBA community for having a rather toxic work environment. We watched free agents head elsewhere as complaints about the front office loomed and listened to analysts constantly refer to Chicago as an unattractive destination. While plenty of ground still needs to be done, the Bulls further distanced themselves from this perception the moment Donovan agreed to come aboard. The next step will now be to demonstrate similar strides on the court, which – for what it’s worth – is something Wojnarowski and fellow ESPN insider Bobby Marks believe the Bulls can do in 2020-21.

Only time will tell how much longer this positive momentum will snowball, but I love everything I’m hearing about what’s happening in the Windy City.

For more on what Billy Donovan hire means for the organization, check out our post from earlier.

Author: Elias Schuster

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