Chicago Bulls President Michael Reinsdorf commends Executive Vice President Arturas Karnisovas for helping make the team relevant again
After years of chaos in the front office and in coaching, Michael Reinsdorf, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Chicago Bulls, hired Arturas Karnisovas to redesign his basketball operations and restore playoff competition. So far the results are remarkable. Years of organizational missteps and mistrust quickly faded and were replaced by a fully functional first-place franchise.
“When we hired Arturas, I was confident that he would help change things, but I can’t say that I thought it would be that quick,” Reinsdorf told ESPN. “There are no problems. There is no drama. Just everyone wants to reach the next level. It’s a good feeling.”
When the Bulls (27-12) host the Golden State Warriors on Friday (7.30pm ET, ESPN), Reinsdorf makes it clear that he is not reporting a great performance on the way of the season anytime soon, but admits: “It is exciting for the Chicago cops to be relevant again. “
The Bulls have missed the playoffs in six of the last seven years, but that’s set to change this spring. Reinsdorf believes the decision to hire Karnisovas while the league closes in April 2020 has given him the opportunity to accelerate organizational rebuilding.
“We hired Arturas at the beginning of COVID when many teams were on hold,” Reinsdorf told ESPN. “Often people come and clean. He took the time to get to know people in our organization.”
The Bulls did not qualify for the Orlando restart and eventually Karnisova’s ex-trainer Jim Boylen fired. Everything changed when Billy Donovan left the Oklahoma City Thunder, which prompted Karnisovas to inform Reinsdorf that he was immediately flying to Florida to meet with him.
“The moment Billy Donovan announced that he would not be returning to Oklahoma City, Arturas was ready to camp at his house,” Reinsdorf told ESPN. “Billy’s hiring was a critical step for the Chicago Bulls.”
Karnisovas and Donovan are among the front runners in the Executive and Coach of the Year awards. Together, Reinsdorf observed something among the cops that was missing for years: building trust and relationships. Donovan has long been considered unparalleled in his ability to connect with players, and that has grown into an immense part of the development of All-Star Guard Zach LaVine in Chicago.
“Arturas and Billy really took the time to get to know Zach LaVine and knew he wanted to win,” Reinsdorf told ESPN. “Zach has been on some bad teams, and just as it wasn’t Devin Booker’s fault in Phoenix these years, it wasn’t Zach’s fault here either. We had to get him help. Billy, Arturas and (General Manager) Marc Eversley spend a lot of time with our players. These are not assets, these are people. But especially with Zach, they took the time to understand what he was about. For the outsider, it was easy to say, “Oh, he’s just a goalscorer and he doesn’t care.” But they knew better about Zach because they hang out and go beyond basketball with him. “
“It’s exciting for the Chicago Bulls to be relevant again.” Michael Reinsdorf,
Bulls President and COO
Reinsdorf recalls starting the freelance agency in August when Karnisovas dispatched Eversley to hit the franchise’s number 1 target: DeMar DeRozan. Eversley and DeRozan shared a history all the way back to the Toronto Raptors.
“Arturas’ ego is not that he has to be the man in every deal,” Reinsdorf told ESPN. “He was aggressive in trading for (Nikola Vucevic) last year and showed everyone here that the status quo wasn’t good enough. It was smart and it was the start of a chain of events that got us where we are today are.
“As we were building our squad, we also focused on defense. Alex Caruso was instrumental in that. Lonzo Ball was a great addition who increased the pace for us. He is the perfect match. Ayo Dosunmu (38th overall) in the second round we had him higher on our draft board.
“Look, this is not a winning round, but it’s nice to be relevant and mixed up in games that are intense and important. We have a lot to do, but we’re happy where we are so far.” . “