Arturas Karnisovas Sends Strong Message on Plans For Bulls’ Roster

Arturas Karnisovas, Chicago Bulls

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

Last offseason, Chicago Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas pushed a theme of continuity.

Following the team’s elimination from the Play-In Tournament by the Miami Heat on April 14 – a telling 102-91 loss on the road – Karnisovas faced the music of a wayward campaign that fell well below his stated expectations.

This year his word of choice was “inconsistency”.

“We’re a 40-42 team,” Karnisovas said via the Bulls’ official YouTube channel on April 15. “We have to find solutions and tweaks to do better… it starts with me, how I can help (players) do better, and goes to players and coaches as well. We’re accountable for this record, and we’re going to try to change that this offseason.”

But those hoping for sweeping changes might be disappointed by some of his other comments.

“To be honest, we’ve shown so much improvement here, and at any time I’m going to be open to pretty anything…to improve this roster,” Karnisovas said. “That’s been thrown around all this season, ‘blow it up’, ‘rebuild’. It’s not on our minds. The moment we changed our minds in 2021 season to focus on winning and try to build a sustainable program here, I think that’s where we’re focused now.”

That flies directly in the face of some pleas from outside the organization.

Karnisovas cited the Bulls’ finishing the season fifth in defensive rating but 24th in offense rating – first and 16th, respectively post All-Star break – as well as the Bulls’ 14-9 finish and improved performance against upper-tiered teams as reasons for optimism.

“I prefer this script versus last year when we were losing by huge margins to good teams,” he said.

Bulls Will Target 3 Point Shooting, Size

Karnisovas defended his inactivity at the trade deadline saying that there was nothing available that would have improved the team, perhaps a symptom of so many teams remaining in contention later in the season thanks to the Play-In Tournament.

But he did make several telling comments about what he plans on targeting in what figures to be a pivotal offseason.

“The way we finished the season, I think we’re on the right path,” he said. “And we’re going to have all this time in the postseason to sit down with the front office and the coaching staff to figure out what needs to be improving moving forward.

“It will be a priority for us to kind of change our shooting profile. Because it’s very difficult for us to go into every game with such a deficit…it’s almost like we go into every game [with an] eight-point deficit to make up for. So we’re going to look at it, first as in shot creation and then obviously have our personnel. … Just to bring shooters, that’s one thing. We have a couple of deficiencies from giving up second-chance points – you could look at a lot of things statistically and what we need to add.”

The Bulls ranked 30th in attempted and made threes and ranked 29th in three-point rate.

Bulls Singing The Same Song

Anyone who heard Karnisvoas after last season’s first-round playoff exit will notice the similarities in his comments after losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games. The difference is he explicitly said that he expected the team to go deeper into the postseason.

They not only regressed in the regular season standings, but they missed the playoffs entirely.

Karnisovas said that he wants to bring back unrestricted free agent big man Nikola Vucevic and restricted free agent guard Coby White back but remained nebulous on Lonzo Ball who is expected to miss most if not all of next season after missing all of his season and appearing in just 35 games last season.

Karnisovas also repeated his belief in his ability to get creative in improving the roster around Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, and Zach LaVine despite limited trade assets.