4 biggest fleeces AKME have gotten away with for the Bulls

Arturas Karnisovas, Marc Eversley, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
Arturas Karnisovas, Marc Eversley, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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If you haven’t been paying attention, a pro sports franchise in Chicago has finally managed to put a competent front office in charge of things. So far, vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley (commonly nicknamed “AKME” by Bulls fans online) have been the ones to get the Chicago Bulls on the right track and finally looking like a respectable squad and perennial playoff contender for the first time in years.

This comes as a distinct change from former front office head honchos John Paxson and Gar Forman, who also received a nickname (“GarPax”) by the fanbase for far less pleasant reasons. Serving as either VP or GM from 2003 to 2020, Paxson oversaw some of the worst Bulls basketball in franchise history and squandered a championship-caliber core led by Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng.

For that reason, It’s easy to see why AKME has been nothing short of a breath of fresh air for Bulls fans. Other GMs, I reckon, likely aren’t as pleased with the number of savvy moves Chicago’s front office has pulled off since taking over in 2020.

Despite a relatively short tenure as the Chicago Bulls’ managerial duo, AKME have already fleeced other teams several times.

Coby White, Derrick Jones Jr., Chicago Bulls
Coby White, Derrick Jones Jr., Chicago Bulls (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

4. Lauri Markkanen for Derrick Jones Jr. and a pick

If you look at this exchange from a straight-up value perspective in a vacuum, it doesn’t look like that huge of a haul. But if you consider the context behind the scenes, the Bulls made out like bandits here.

Entering free agency, Lauri Markkanen could have signed with any team of his choosing. Insistent on his worth, he opted to pursue a bigger deal than Chicago (and later, San Antonio) was willing to offer. He could have easily signed a deal with any other team at any moment, which made extracting any value via trade here very difficult.

As a restricted free agent, the Bulls held the right to match any offer sheet. However, as we’ve recently witnessed during the Deandre Ayton fiasco, holding a player’s restricted rights doesn’t always mean that you also hold trade leverage.

Markkanen had a solid season with Cleveland following this trade, but it was nothing worth losing sleep over. Derrick Jones Jr., on the other hand, ended up being a fine role player for the Bulls. So much so, that they’ve opted to re-sign him for the 2022-23 season. When you factor in the first-round pick from Portland that the Bulls also received for Markkanen, this trade just ends up feeling like a steal.

Lauri will very likely go on to be a fine player, but AKME’s ability to get a good package in return instead of losing Markkanen outright for nothing speaks volumes about their competency as decision-makers.