Sounds Like Change is FINALLY Coming for the Chicago Bulls

Less than 24 hours after the Chicago Bulls’ season ended unceremoniously, Arturas Karnisovas showed face.

The organization’s head of basketball operations sat down at the podium with a sigh and unfolded a highlighted piece of paper. What came next – to my surprise – wasn’t a word vomit about competitiveness, continuity, or injuries. Instead, Karnisovas read a declarative statement about the unacceptable nature of the season and the need for change.

The executive proceeded to take questions about the direction of the franchise, and his tone remained the same. As frustrated as I am about where this organization stands and the job this front office has done, I try to be as sensible as possible. I can’t help but admit that Karnisovas, for the first time in what feels like a long time, said the right thing.

I also can’t help but admit that actions always speak louder than words. This is only the first step of many the Chicago Bulls must take to reinvent the franchise.

Nonetheless, let’s review some of Karnisovas’ most important remarks from Saturday’s presser. Here are the top 5 quotes that stood out to me.

Arturas Karnisovas of the Chicago Bulls
via Chicago Bulls YouTube (All-Access: Training Camp)

Arutras Karnisovas Thinks Bulls Need Change

Quote 1

“It goes without saying the conclusion of the season fell short of expectations regardless of injury status. Any season that we don’t end deep into the postseason requires close examination, which has already begun. I can talk about all of our players through a positive lens, but in totality as a team we didn’t meet expectations. 

We aren’t here for the Play-In. It’s a team game, and we have to make changes to fix things. I take full responsibility for where we are right now.”

The above quote was a part of Karnisovas’ opening statement, and I think it set the table well for the next 18 minutes. He didn’t waste any time laboring on the team’s injury trouble or their slew of clutch victories. This notion of “competitiveness” that dominated the front office’s mid-season narrative was nowhere to be found.

Not to mention, this was the first of many times that Karniosvas stated he takes “full responsibility” for the franchise’s failures.

Quote 2

“I take full responsibility, however, and recognize when changes need to be made, and I believe that time is now.”

The Bulls executive ended his closing statement with this poignant remark. All things considered, this is the first time he’s specifically stated that this roster must undergo meaningful change. The past has centered around consistency and giving this core more time to gel. There was none of that talk this time around. Karnisovas admitted that what the franchise has attempted over the past three seasons hasn’t worked.

Quote 3

“You spend three times a day with Billy, he’s obviously a great leader, great coach, and I have to do a better job to help him – to find a group. We put emphasis on cohesion this year, and I think this group kind of bonded. In totality, it didn’t work, and I have to find these answers.”

Karnisovas remained loyal to his head coach despite a second-straight losing season. It’s clear that he expects Billy Donovan to be the leader of whatever iteration comes next. On the one hand, I think everybody deserves blame for the way this group has become stuck in mediocrity. On the other hand, I agree that Karnisovas needs to do a way better job setting the Bulls’ head coach up for success. I truly believe the guy is a good coach, and I think his ability to avoid letting the wheels fall off completely this year is representative of that.

Still, if the Chicago Bulls do choose to take a step back and prioritize more long-term success, I wonder if Donovan is the right man for the job. He’s a win-now leader, and let’s not forget he left OKC because of their choice to pursue a rebuild.

Quote 4

“This group, something doesn’t work. I’ve got to find ways to find a group that is going to make improvements. We’ve done that for a couple years now and it hasn’t worked.”

What makes this quote stand out is the question that precedes it. Long-time Chicago Bulls reporter Sam Smith asked Karnisovas whether or not he sees the “Big 3” of Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and DeMar DeRozan still working, and whether or not it would be worth keeping that unit around. This was his answer.

I think this could prove to be the most telling comment of the day. Again, Karnisovas has remained committed to his vision and his core in the past. Everything has always been about setting those three up for success. Not anymore. This might as well mark the unofficial end of this core as we know it. Does it suck that it took this long for him to realize this? Absolutely. But the fact he didn’t necessarily leave the door open for all three to return gives me real optimism for legitimate change.

At the same time, I should note that Karnisovas still alluded to a desire to have DeMar DeRozan back, so does this mean moving Zach LaVine is his hope? Or are his comments about DeRozan merely out of respect and professionalism? Only time will tell.

Quote 5

“My approach looking at the luxury tax is if you can prove your team will be in the top 4, you’ll go in the luxury tax … As long as I can put a team together that can be competing in the top 4 [of the East] that’s when you’re going to start looking at retaining guys, going into the luxury tax, that would be my approach.”

This is probably the most specific Karnisovas has been in regards to paying the luxury tax, which the Bulls have done once in franchise history. Nevertheless, I don’t love the response. While I understand it’s foolish to pay the tax for a mediocre team, it’s pretty hard to become a top 4 team right now without initially paying the tax. The best way to do it is to get yourself a young star or two, so could this imply that building through the draft will become a great priority moving forward?

You can catch Arturas Karnisovas’ full Chicago Bulls end-of-season press conference here:

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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