Rival GM Drops Truth Bomb on Bulls Front Office, Nikola Vucevic Plans

Nikola Vucevic Day'Ron Sharpe Bulls-Nets

Getty Nikola Vucevic is defended by Day'Ron Sharpe during a bout between the Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets.

While Patrick Beverley has clearly been a positive addition for the Chicago Bulls — his net rating of 15.1 leads the squad by a significant margin — the fact that the team didn’t make big moves (or any moves) at the NBA trade deadline continues to be a head-scratcher.

In particular, the decision not to deal Nikola Vucevic, a soon-to-be unrestricted free agent who has been an awkward fit, struck pundits and armchair GMs as odd. And additional eyebrows were raised in the wake of the team’s sleepy deadline when Bulls VP Arturas Karnisovas sounded off about re-signing the former All-Star.

“He’s having an unbelievable year,” Karnisovas said on February 9, via NBC Sports Chicago. “And you know we want him to be here.”

As a rival GM sees it, though, Chicago’s chief decision-maker is simply fighting for his own job (whether he actually needs to or not).

East GM: Bulls VP Arturas Karnisovas Doesn’t Want to Concede a Mistake

Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney spoke with an Eastern Conference GM about the Vucevic-Karnisovas dynamic and, as the exec sees it, there’s a clear method to the perceived madness.

“Arturas is pretty defensive about Vucevic, and he has to be. That’s why they feel like they will do an extension, because if they don’t, they will have to admit trading for him was a mistake,” the GM told Deveney.

“Wendell Carter has been a really good center when he is healthy, and Franz Wagner, who the Magic got with the Bulls’ pick, is a really great, young No. 2 option. And the Bulls still owe Orlando a pick there. So the Magic not only won that deal but it was a landslide.”

Perhaps more than any move, the Vooch trade has hindered the Bulls’ ability to pivot toward some kind of reboot, hence the club’s current playoff push. That particular deal is just the cherry on top of the cake, however.

Karnisovas Is Keeping the Pressure on Himself, GM Says

As much as things are popping off in Orlando, Lauri Markkanen’s star turn in Salt Lake City may be just as big of an indictment on the current regime in Chicago.

“Put that into the context of what happened with Lauri who not only is showing up nicely but is a damned All-Star and what is going on with Lonzo Ball and you can see why Arturas feels a little bit under siege, you know? Nothing has worked out how he expected there. If he lets Vucevic walk, it is just another arrow against him,” the GM said.

“It’s the same with Patrick Williams, right? They won’t even discuss him in trades. Why? Because that would be an arrow against them, that maybe they made the wrong pick there.”

In any case, the GM believes Karnisovas is probably his own worst critic.

“Not that that is coming from ownership. The Bulls’ ownership, to their credit, the Reinsdorfs are really great about hiring their people and letting them do their jobs. But they’re getting that pressure from the media and fans and, really, Arturas is probably putting it on himself.”

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