Chicago Bulls fans won’t have to wait to reap the benefits of their impressive front office overhaul despite the roster being all but set for next season.
Chicago Bulls fans have been having a rather enjoyable quarantine (as much as a situation like this allows). Not only have they been blessed by the Four Letters with the Last Dance Documentary (only the greatest doc of all time, objectively speaking) showcasing the 90’s teams’ dominance. But they also had their prayers for sweeping changes up top answered.
John Paxson and Gar Forman (unaffectionately known as GarPax) are out of the posts they’ve held for the better part of the past two decades. In their places are Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley, respectively.
Karnisovas’ hiring got things started and his addition sent a clear message that the Bulls were trying to go in a completely different direction. Poaching Eversley from the Philadelphia 76ers gives the Bulls a pair of top executives that have been a part of building some of the better rosters in the NBA. And what’s even better is their backgrounds are so vastly different.
Denver (where Karnisovas arrives from) has a roster full of younger players featuring stars Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, and the uber-talented Michael Porter Jr. Those three, in particular, stand out as draft picks the club developed, and in Porter’s case, was willing to take a chance on.
Eversley’s background includes a ten-year stint at Nike and time with the Toronto Raptors. Speaking to the media on Friday, Eversley talked about the deficiencies in the front office and creating a culture that is player-oriented. That leads one to believe a lack of activity isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Karnisovas and Eversley seem to take this job seriously but also personally. Karnisovas said he got emotional watching The Last Dance this past Sunday and called Eversley to hire him then instead of the following morning. Eversley talked about the importance of his role as a black man in his role in Chicago.
The biggest takeaway from both of these statements, and the difference between them and the previous regime, is, despite John Paxson’s playing career, there never seemed to be a personal connection to the city. That’ll happen after 17 years and scant success.
Another major takeaway (and the real point of this article) was comparing what the duo says they want and what was in place at their previous stops, the Bulls players actually have the skill sets to match. And judging from Eversley’s comments about finding out there was only one player development coach, it sounds like he may possibly agree.
If so, that’s good because the Bulls won’t have ready access to cap space until 2021. Between another year of Cristiano Felicio and Otto Porter’s now awful looking deal combined with Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young having deals better suited for contenders, it’ll be tricky to change much barring a trade.
Trading Satoranky and Young could end up as part of the plan. It sounds like leadership thinks the players were let down so the younger guys could get another shot to prove their worth. A player like Zach LaVine is interesting if this is the line of thinking.
LaVine is the Bulls best player but he is also the oldest among the “core” guys. So while there is undoubtedly more to be unlocked from his game, he is also your best trade chip.
Coby White, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter are even less likely to be move than before and it was a longshot then. But, again, that isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. Who doesn’t want White’s passing to improve? Who would turn down Markkanen playing more assertively with consistency? Want Wendell to expand that range, right? Thought so.
Add in the potential of Daniel Gafford, Chandler Hutchison (if he can stay healthy), and contributions from (potential trade candidates) Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn and all the excitement from last preseason returns.
There is still the tiny (see: major) issue of head coach, a position still helmed by Jim Boylen. A lot of what went wrong for the players falls at his feet. Letting him remain, outside of the current season resuming, would be a nod to the past, and that is not a good thing. The Bulls have done a solid job beginning the process of revamping their image around the league.
That should be what Bulls fans are most concerned about; Boylen returning, not the roster. His voicing confidence in the idea he could be back should be taken with a grain of salt. He also said he didn’t think a lack of wins would hurt him in an evaluation.
But the players, they just got what should be their one wish: a fresh start. And if that makes them happy (it should), then they should be ecstatic about who is now making the decisions.
Many had faith in the Bulls before the season and it seems Eversley and Karnisovas did, and do, too.