The fans deserve an answer. Even if that answer is not the one they want to hear – and at this point, it seems clear it would not be – they should hear it from the proverbial horse’s mouth. In the Chicago Bulls‘ (11-18) case, the “horse” is vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas.
Charged with taking over a team that had just one playoff appearance in the previous five seasons.
He got them back into the postseason with a flurry of changes, moving all but two players.
Chicago’s quick ascension has been followed by an even quicker, steeper descent into a team others are waiting to pounce on in trades. To this point, the Bulls have been rumored to be hesitant to go the full “tank” route but are open to making some tweaks to the roster – at least that is what we have been told they think.
AKME in Hiding?
“I know that the media as a whole has asked to speak with management, and that has been declined” former Bulls big man Will Perdue said during ‘Bulls Postgame Live‘ on NBC Sports Chicago. “But at some point, I feel like that they have to respond to what’s going on.”
Perdue began his point by reciting comments Karnisovas made on media day about heightened expectations for this season relative to last year.
Karnisovas made it clear that he expected a step forward.
The Bulls have now lost four straight games and seven of their last nine outings. They have just two wins in the telling month of December. But Karnisovas has not spoken publicly since an October 4 appearance during a 129-125 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, something Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times points out goes against the Bulls boss’ stated ethos.
“My professional philosophy is knowing players,” Karnisovas said when he was hired reminds Cowley, “constant communication, roster balance, and deal-making creativity.”
Cowley went on to point out that general manager Marc Eversley has spoken even less.
Fans and media wanting to hear from the front office is one thing, though not getting it is not ideal regardless. And if they actively declined an invitation to give their take, that is a missed opportunity that would also be very on-brand.
Donovan’s Surprise Extension
The Bulls made the surprising decision to announce a “multi-year” extension for head coach Billy Donovan who still had the 2024 season on his current deal. This would figure to tie him to Karnisovas. But, with no details given on the exact length, we don’t know how long that is or how recent events have changed ownership’s outlook if at all.
This was also a missed opportunity since the extension came before the season but was not announced until right before a 132-113 loss to the Phonix Suns on November 30 as the team was in a foreboding 3-6 stretch.
They could have used the good publicity after a quiet offseason left some forecasting the exact outcome that is playing out.
Their slide has left Donovan with few answers outside of demanding greater effort.
Donovan has backed the decision to run it back with a roster that won just eight games after the All-Star break last season.
“I don’t personally feel that way,” Donovan said when asked if the Bulls made a mistake in running it back this past offseason following a 114-91 loss at home to the New York Knicks, per 670 The Score‘s Cody Westerlund. “I think the character in that locker room is really, really good.”
That is not necessarily a ringing endorsement of his players’ ability.
Walk The Talk
The players are still saying all of the right things even if they are not always executing them up to their best ability. But, as Donovan noted after his team gave up their most points to an opponent this season, they have to back it up at some point which should go double for Eversley and Karnisovas.
“And, if it does continue to crack and break,” Cowley asks rhetorically. “One of the architects will surely address it soon. They have to, don’t they?”
We will soon find out.