The Chicago Bulls are set to take on the Toronto Raptors in the second of two Eastern Conference play-in games on April 12. It’s win or go home for the Bulls, who finished with a 40-42 mark this season.
After making the playoffs last year for the first time in five seasons and losing in the first round to the Milwaukee Bucks, Bulls’ Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, Artūras Karnišovas, made it known that he expected his team to go even further this year. If that doesn’t happen, and Chicago winds up getting booted in the play-in or shortly after, one top insider covering the team says the blame will fall on the players and not the folks in the front office.
According to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, “failure against the Raptors undoubtedly will mean major changes in the locker room.” Cowley also reported that the Bulls already extended multiple key members of their front office in 2022 without making any of those extensions public.
Bulls May Need Strong Playoff Push to Keep Big 3 Intact
“Last year, the result, you know, we were not surprised we made the playoffs. A lot of people were surprised. Nor should we be surprised to make the playoffs this year. But what we want to see is obviously improvement,” Karnišovas told the media in September 2022, via NBC Sports.
“Once you get to the playoffs and you have healthy bodies I think a lot of things can happen,” Karnišovas added. “So I think we have to do better than last year. When you get to the playoffs, as always, things happen, certain teams missing one or two key players, and you can get by a round. Those are the expectations.”
The Raptors won the regular season series against the Bulls, 2-1, and if Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and company get bested yet again, don’t be surprised if either LaVine or DeRozan gets traded later this year. Vooch is a free agent at season’s end, so his future remains a question mark, although Karnišovas has said he’d like to re-sign the veteran big man.
Considering Karnišovas laid down his expectations at the start of the season and the team has not met them, Chicago’s roster is likely going to be filled with new faces next season.
“If the Bulls fail to reach expectations — at least the second round of the playoffs, according to executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas — the players will be the ones held accountable despite the flawed roster.”
Billy Donovan & Key Front Office Personnel Aren’t Going Anywhere, According to Cowley
The Bulls extended head coach Billy Donovan before the 2022-23 season began, and Cowley says Donovan wasn’t the only one.
“Donovan and his staff received contract extensions during fall camp,” Cowley reported. “The Sun-Times learned that most of the major players in the front office also have received extensions. The Bulls rarely detail front-office contracts; there was no announcement or leak.”
While Cowley did not name names of those in Chicago’s front office who may have been extended, some options include GM Marc Eversley, assistant general manager Pat Connelly and COO Ram Padmanabhan.
Now, all eyes are on Chicago and what it can do with its play-in opportunity.