Rival Exec Gets Honest About Arturas Karnisovas’ Plans for Bulls

Arturas Karnisovas, Chicago Bulls

Getty Arturas Karnisovas, executive vice president of basketball operations for the Chicago Bulls.

Fans hoping for the Chicago Bulls to find help in free agency or the trade market this offseason may come away disappointed.

“They are not going to make a move for a point guard, that has not been in the pipeline for them at all,” an Eastern Conference general manager told Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney. “They have pretty much put everything into the idea that Lonzo [Ball] is coming back and if he doesn’t, then maybe [executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas] and the front office can take cover in the fact that, ‘Hey we signed a guy who got injured and that’s that’.

Karnisovas spoke of needing to change the team’s shot profile next season after they finished the campaign ranked 30th in three-pointers taken and made, though they did check in at 16th in efficiency. He noted that they could go about that via the types of looks they generate or personnel and it sounds like he’s leaning toward the former.

“The big concern is probably that no one really grabbed the job in Lonzo’s absence,” the GM told Deveney. “That makes it more difficult. But they have Lonzo signed for this year coming up and a player option for the year after so there’s pretty much no way out of that.

“They need Ayo [Dosunmu] to be better. They need to get Dalen Terry into the mix—can he be a point guard or is he a strictly an NBA wing? They’d like to see one of those guys really establish himself as an NBA starter-level type point guard. They have good players but they do not do well at organizing themselves offensively. That’s where Lonzo is so badly missed.”

Dosunmu – a Chicago native and former second-round pick – opened the season as the starting point guard but lost the role twice first to Alex Caruso and then to Patrick Beverley.

Terry was selected 18th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft but was unable to earn a role this season.

Ball is going into the third year of a four-year, $80 million deal. He is owed $41.8 million over the next two seasons including a $21.4 million player option in 2024-25. After undergoing a third surgery in March to address a knee injury suffered in January of 2022, Ball is expected to miss most if not all of next season, though Karnisovas remained non-committal to any timelines for the 26-year-old point guard.

“End of the day, Pat Bev is probably the answer,” the GM told Deveney. “They played well with him and they probably will bring him back at a hometown discount.”

The Bulls are said to be “all in” on retaining restricted free agent Coby White this summer, and head coach Billy Donovan hinted at a possible shot White gets a shot to take the reins next season.

But that can’t be their only move and they might not be able to count on the “hometown” angle.

Don’t Count on the Hometown Kids

Beverly, also a Chicago native, has already set his expectations for a new deal between $13 million and $15 million after helping guide the Bulls to a 14-9 record to close the season that Karnisovas was very proud of during his end-of-season presser, though it is hard to see the finances working unless Beverley agrees to that amount across a couple of seasons.

Dosummu is also a restricted free agent and there is some thought that it is unlikely the Bulls keep both him and White next season while the Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons have been mentioned as potential suitors, per Sam Amico of Hoops Wire.

There is also the sentimental potential option but another East exec doubts that as well.

“I am sure there is a lot of sentiment for Derrick Rose if the Knicks let him go but they already have a crowd at that position, especially if they sign Coby White, and I think they will,” the exec said. “A minimum deal? OK, maybe you go there but if he wants to play, that might not happen to Chicago. I am not sure anyone knows, really, that Derrick still wants to play, though.”

Rose has a $15.6 million club option for the 2023-24 season and, after he fell out of Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation this season, it would seem unlikely the team picks it up. But Rose has also not made much of a fuss about being out of the rotation.

“If we were losing, probably,” Rose said of requesting a trade, per Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “But I like winning. I’m a winner. I like being around a locker room where the vibrations are just winning. And they got [Miles McBride] playing ahead of me. I can’t hate on that young man.”

The Bulls do not guarantee that for the 34-year-old Rose at this point, even if there are still strong ties to the city and organization.

The One Outside Option

“If they could get Mike Conley in there…that would be a guy who could start or come off the bench and can play with Lonzo if Lonzo gets healthy,” the exec told Deveney. “That would be the one guy they could target who would make a lot of sense and could fit with Zach [LaVine] and DeMar [DeRozan] and still be very useful if Lonzo plays.”

Conley is battling it out for the Minnesota Timberwolves against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Playoffs. But he is entering the final year of his three-year, $68 million contract and only $14.3 million of the $24.5 million he is set to be owed is guaranteed.

The Bulls have been linked to him in the past but a deal would likely require assets they might not have to acquire him.

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