Owners of a 23-26 record through 49 games this season, things are not exactly going well for the Chicago Bulls. In a league that's consistently improving by the year with more promising young talent than ever, the Bulls have instead opted to continue treading water and maintaining their position as a mediocre team in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago's poor performance this year is just an unfortunate continuation of their last two disappointing seasons. Somewhat ironically, the Bulls also achieved a 23-26 record through their first 49 games last season, as well as a 20-29 record through their final 49 games in 2021-22. The Bulls have continued to try the same things year after year with only small changes at the margins, so I'm not particularly shocked that there have been no radical internal improvements from this team so far.
Unfortunately, if recent reports are to be believed, it doesn't seem as though there's a light waiting at the end of the tunnel for Bulls fans. That's because Chicago's chief executive Arturas Karnisovas likely intends to hold the team's current course, even though it has proven to be a fruitless strategy thus far.
Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic reports on Karnisovas' decision to remain steadfast in his philosophy of continuity, "With a week remaining before the NBA’s trade deadline, few within or around the Chicago Bulls organization anticipate the franchise making a major move. If the Bulls swing a deal before the Feb. 8 deadline, most will be surprised. It’s not that the Bulls can’t make a trade, but there’s a prevailing belief that the front office won’t commit to something substantial.”
To hear Mayberry state the Bulls are perfectly capable of making moves, but Karnisovas is blatantly declining to do his job perfectly highlights just how much of a disappointment this new regime's tenure has been.
Arturas Karnisovas is dragging the Bulls down with his consistently poor decision-making.
Zach LaVine was expected to be a major player to watch ahead of this year's trade deadline. Instead, he will now be forced to reincorporate himself into a roster that has been better without him and is clearly itching to be free of his massive cap hit and offensive usage. Chicago's young talent of Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, and to a lesser degree Patrick Williams have all shown flashes of being high-level contributors worth building around.
Since overhauling the roster in the summer of 2021, Arturas has refused to make moves, and the ones he has made have been complete disasters. Let's take a brief moment to recount all the blunders he's made in that time:
- Traded Lauri Markkanen for Derrick Jones Jr. and a first-round pick that will likely never convey.
- Signed Zach LaVine to a five-year, $215 million contract that no other team in the league wants to deal with.
- Drafted Dalen Terry with the 18th overall pick in 2022.
- Signed an aging and declining Nikola Vucevic to a three-year, $60 million contract.
- Brought in Jevon Carter as Chicago's biggest free agent signing or trade in the last two years.
Not only has Karnisovas been a massive disappointment, but he's been arguably even worse than the infamous front office duo 'GarPax' — John Paxson and Gar Forman.
The Bulls will now continue to trot out the same tired roster that has proven itself incapable of qualifying for the playoffs, let alone contending for a championship. I can forgive the front office for putting together a team that underperformed, but I simply cannot forgive them for refusing to make changes even after they've had more than two years of poor results to re-evaluate their plans.
If the front office's blatant negligence won't cost them their jobs outright, it is inevitably going to impact Jerry Reinsdorf's bottom line. While Karnisovas continues to pocket his annual seven-digit salary on a freshly minted contract extension, Bulls fans are going to stop showing up to games and buying merchandise.
This franchise has not put a product worth rooting for out on the court for a very long time, so Karnisovas shouldn't be shocked when the wheels fall off and "continuity" proves to not be such an infallible strategy after all.