Don’t worry NBA executives, we don’t have a read on Arturas Karnisovas either.
The Bulls new vice president of basketball operations is not one to spill the beans. He’s an infamously methodical evaluator at this point – a guy who not only takes time to make decisions but keeps those decisions under wraps until … BAM … he hires Billy Donovan.
According to The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie, this approach has left many around the league scratching their head. To use his words exactly, “sources around the league are unclear on if he’ll decide to ride with this core through the early part of the season or decide to start reshaping it in this offseason with some moves.”
While that may read as deceivingly frustrating, this report only continues a long stretch of good Bulls news. In the NBA, you want to control your own narrative. The more Karnisovas has his fellow front-office workers on their toes, the better chance he has at pulling off the moves he wants to make. And, as far as we know, Karnisovas has plenty of interest in making moves.
Over the last several weeks, we’ve only been given more reasons to believe the Bulls will become one of the most active teams in the NBA over the next year or so. Vecenie pushed this storyline in a piece he wrote about Chicago a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve also heard Marc Eversley recently refer to the Bulls future as a “retool” and not a “rebuild.” I kind of feel like a broken record bringing up these comments again, but I can’t ignore that this premise continues to gain traction, which is pretty darn exciting.
Now, I should note that I still think the “make a big move” scale tips strongly toward “unlikely” this offseason. I’m glad to see that people around the league think the door is wide open, but I just don’t see this as the most advantageous decision for the Bulls new front office. While I think it’s inevitable that this young core is shaken-up, the front office and new coaching staff should have some time to evaluate the pieces in place. Moving on from Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr.. or Coby White in the first offseason would be quite the surprising move, especially considering all are still believed to have some solid upside.
To that point, what I also find interesting about Vecenie’s comment is that people around the league are just trying to decide whether the Bulls will make moves now or in the “early part of the season.” What this tells us is that – regardless – the assumption is that Karnisovas will mix things up sooner rather than later. Even if he does opt to take the approach above (wait to evaluate some of the players until this season), the goal might be to decide on each player’s future with the team relatively quickly. So, does that mean a crazy trade deadline for the Bulls? I wouldn’t put it past AK.
The good news is the Bulls have a lot of options, and whatever they decide to do, Bulls fans will probably feel on board. I certainly don’t hate the idea of this team moving fast to improve the roster, but I’m also willing to wait it out at least another season. Remember, the team has great financial flexibility in 2021, so they don’t want to trade for anyone that risks their spending power for only a minimal competitive return. At the same time, though, if a couple of trades can add pieces to this roster that makes the franchise a more attractive superstar destination, then go right ahead.