Arturas Karnisovas Pushed to ‘Act Accordingly’ Amid Bulls Surge

Arturas Karnisovas, Chicago Bulls

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

The Chicago Bulls are 10-6 since the All-Star break but could be careening towards an offseason of change.

“They have to recognize that the current roster isn’t built to do more than stay mired in the league’s dreaded middle…and should act accordingly,” writes Grant Hughes for Bleacher Report. “That means accepting the possibility that Nikola Vučević is not a retention priority in free agency, and that high-priced veterans still under contract like Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan should be on the trade block the second the season ends. Even Alex Caruso could bring back a first-round pick in trade due to his coveted defensive ability and paltry $9.5 million salary for 2023-24.

“This is a full tear-down directive.”

As rash as that directive may seem considering their recent play, the Bulls were teetering on the brink going into the All-Star break, losers of five straight and sitting in the 11-seed of a jumbled-up Eastern Conference.

They are said to have had talks about trading LaVine with the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks, though his recent return to All-Star form may have altered that approach.

Hughes points to the nebulous status of Lonzo Ball, 26, following the guard’s third knee surgery in just over a year and his availability for next season in serious jeopardy. He also notes that LaVine, 28, has his own significant injury history and is owed over $178 million over the next four seasons.

Factor in that both DeRozan and Vucevic – who will be a free agent after this season – are in their 30s and the logic behind the decision becomes a bit clearer.

But there’s more to it than just the personnel which is putting up quite a fight down the stretch

“Part of the reason Chicago should consider a wholesale restart has to do with the standings,” Hughes argues. “This group’s play-in spot is probably safe, but the best-case scenario for this season is a quick first-round elimination, followed by the pain of watching its first-round pick convey to the Orlando Magic. Bright side: once that pick changes hands, the Bulls’ only outgoing obligation is a 2025 protected first-rounder owed to the San Antonio Spurs, which will be offset by an incoming top-14 protected first-rounder from the Portland Trail Blazers that should convey at some point between 2023 and 2028.”

They are not nearly ready to concede, though.

DeMar DeRozan Issues Rallying Cry

“We need every single game down the stretch,” said DeMar DeRozan in a video shared to Twitter by Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “We got seven left. Going back home, play the Lakers again. So we got to start a rhythm from there.”

The Bulls are three full games up on the Washington Wizards and 3.5 games ahead of the Indiana Pacers for the 10-seed and final slot in the Play-In Tournament. Executive vice president of basketball operations Arutras Karnisovas stated that the goal coming into the season.

While their current predicament could be viewed as a letdown on the whole, the reality is they can point to their turnaround in the absence of Ball as promising going forward.

LaVine is under contract for the next several seasons, as is head coach Billy Donovan. Whatever happens around them is unclear but Karnisovas has shown zero willingness to go back to the tanking route after giving up a lot to put this group together.

Bulls Came Close to Missing Out Patrick Beverley

Chicago picked up Patrick Beverley at the start of this run after he was waived by the Orlando Magic who got him in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers for big man Mo Bamba.

But this magic ride for the Chicago native almost didn’t happen.

“Give credit to Pat for coming here and giving us a jump of life, vocal leader, energy, and give us credit for understanding the situation and going out there and playing desperate,’’ LaVine said, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.