Toronto's Masai Ujiri's Can Give the Chicago Bulls a Lesson in Accountability

Social Navigation

Toronto’s Masai Ujiri Can Give the Bulls a Lesson in Accountability

Chicago Bulls

I got to admit, this post is mainly driven by pettiness and jealousy.

The more I think about the offseason that rests ahead for the Chicago Bulls, the more frustrated I get about the situation they have put themselves in. Barely cracking the 10 seed in the Eastern Conference before falling in the Play-In Tournament wasn’t supposed to be the outcome of this season. This is particularly true when we consider the sheer number of assets and future flexibility the franchise gave up to build the core of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Unfortunately, when vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas addressed the media after the season, he wasn’t able to do much to lift spirits. While he didn’t necessarily shy away from taking any accountability, he did spend an uncomfortable amount of time praising the Bulls’ second-half effort and production. It left me concerned about whether or not the team’s true issues would be fully addressed this summer.

Now, I know that saying and doing are two completely different things. As long as Karnisovas does proceed to take action in a meaningful way, it doesn’t matter what words he uttered in front of cameras. But it’s hard for me not to think about how little he did over the past two transaction periods.

In 2022-23 free agency, he merely signed Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond on small deals. At the trade deadline, he sat things out and waited to sign Patrick Beverley out of the buyout market. So when we consider those rather inconsequential moves (and I recognize Beverley played well, but it didn’t make a significant difference in the grand scheme of things), it couldn’t hurt him to at least talk the talk a little. You know, like the Raptors Masai Ujiri did.

The Toronto Raptors’ front office leader addressed reporters on Friday morning after the organization fired head coach Nick Nurse. For any Bulls fan, listening to what he had to say stung.

While the Raptors finished the year at .500, they had a very similar up-and-down campaign to the Bulls. Expectations were set far higher than what they achieved, and Ujiri didn’t hesitate to address just how unacceptable their performance was.

“We win two and all of a sudden it goes another way. You seem like you’re gaining and it goes another way. It’s not one person or one finger to point. And there is no pointing a finger at Nick,” Ujiri said. “I have to take responsibility for this, too. As a leader of this organization, I will always do that. But it wasn’t us. This year wasn’t us. I think everybody saw that.”

Repeatedly Ujiri stressed that the on-and-off court product for Toronto this season wasn’t representative of the organization they had worked so hard to build. He alluded to player development being stunted, stated that “complacency” entering the fold, and said the franchise “lacked” all the things their culture stood for.

All in all, it was a roughly hour-long conversation stuffed with buzzwords that Bulls observers were dying for.

“I almost think that sometimes we have to validate the championship we won. That’s how much we have to win here. And I believe that we’re going to win again in Toronto. And I feel strong about that. But to watch us play this year was not us. I didn’t enjoy watching this team play. And I think that spoke loud and clear to everything that I think went on this year. It bothered all of us.”

Again, actions will always speak louder than words. But saying the right thing never hurts! Taking proper accountability for a consistently sub-par product is something the Bulls have struggled to do repeatedly over the past decade. The new front office was supposed to change that permanently. Might they still do that? Absolutely. But they sure haven’t proven it yet.

Anyway, you can join me in my anger and watch Masai Ujiri’s full press conference here:

Author: Elias Schuster

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