We are about a month into the reign of Arturas Karnisovas, the new Vice-President of Basketball Operations for the Chicago Bulls, and he has wasted little time in putting together what appears to be a knowledgeable and diverse staff to help him rule Bulls Nation. The Bulls have officially hired J.J. Polk, former executive director of basketball administration for the New Orleans Pelicans, to be Chicago’s new “Cap Guy.” As an assistant general manager, Polk will be in charge of keeping the teams finances in order, navigating the NBA salary cap, and generally making sure the Bulls are getting the best bang for their buck.
Last week, just days after ushering Gar Forman out of the organization, Karnisovas introduced Marc Eversley as the new General Manager of the Chicago Bulls. Eversley has worked with the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, and most recently, the Philadelphia ‘76ers in various front office roles. He also worked for Nike as a sort of liaison between the company and the stars who endorse their shoes, and it’s given him a reputation as a likable guy, someone with connections to NBA star power. This is his first crack at being a general manager, but he seems well suited for the job. Eversley is being billed as a “player relations” guru, with the hope that he can entice high caliber free agents into signing with the Bulls.
The third hire that Karnisovas is rumored to have made is the acquisition of Pat Connelly, a scout for the Denver Nuggets and brother to their President of Basketball Operations, Tim Connelly. Pat Connelly is supposed to be a very good evaluator of talent, and, if the rumors are true, will be another assistant general manager devoted to fleshing out the Bulls scouting department.
Karnisovas has made it clear that he wants to be surrounded by many intelligent and diverse voices. Much like the fabled King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, he wants his front office to have a multitude of opinions and no fear of voicing them. And I like it. It’s easy to get stuck in the same mental ruts when the fish bowl is small, but when there is a sea of voices to swim in, it’s hard not to expand the boundaries of your mental capacities. Arturas isn’t afraid of contrasting opinions, he welcomes the discussions they inspire. He also seems willing to continue bringing in new voices to his front office, with more rumors suggesting that at least one more assistant general manager might be hired (former Bull Nazr Mohammed’s name has been bandied about).
Growth seems to be the order of the day for the Bulls, for no sooner than he was hired, new GM, Marc Eversley has been talking about expanding the teams player development department. Instead of just one coach handling the development of every player on the roster, Eversley envisions a system of player development that focuses not only on building up a players skills, but also their physical development, and “mental enhancement.” “We’re going to do a pretty diligent job in terms of looking for the proper staff to bring in here to work with our young guys. But player development is going to be a tremendous focus for this organization moving forward.” Eversley said in one of his introductory interviews.
This is a new era for Bulls Basketball, and for all the good will this front office is currently receiving (and deservedly so), it will be interesting to see how long fans stay optimistic after Arturas and his knights start making player personnel decisions. Already, there has been disgruntled muttering in the wings after both Karnisovas and Eversley talked about giving Coach Jim Boylen a chance to prove himself. Many fans, myself included, think that ship has sailed, and it would be better to start fresh, without “hold-overs” from the previous Front Office; Let us cleanse ourselves from the stink of the GarPax. But Arturas, a much more enlightened basketball mind than myself, is taking his time evaluating both the players and the coaching staff, and that’s important in and of itself.
There’s an old saying in basketball, “Coaches are hired to be fired.” Jim Boylen, like nearly every other coach in the history of coaching, is the perfect fall guy. Team not living up to the hype? Let’s bring in a new coach and motivate the roster. The truth is, it’s always easier and quicker to fire the coach than it is to reshape the roster. Both need to happen for a franchise to become successful and sustain that success, but coaches salaries don’t count against the cap, and it’s easier to hire a new coach than it is trade a player. So, maybe we fans have to endure another season of Jim Boylen running the show, or maybe he gets canned when the season is officially over. Either way, eventually his tenure will be up, and we can finally start putting the GarPax era in our rear-view mirrors, Arturas and his front office certainly have.
Until that happens, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!
P.S. Thanks for bearing with me and my long absences between posts. My wife gave birth to our first child at the beginning of April and it has been an adjustment living with a newborn. As I get more accustomed to the new rhythm of my life, I hope to get back to two posts a week, just don’t hold your breath.