The Bulls have spent decades failing in the player-relationship business. Late Sunday, they found another bandage that might change that.
A source Monday confirmed an ESPN report that Marc Eversley will be named the Bulls’ general manager as the team continues to reshape and build out a front office that had fallen behind the times.
Eversley, who will be working alongside new head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, will be the first black GM in franchise history.
It’s Eversley’s road less traveled, however, that might start changing the perception of a Bulls front office that has had a bad reputation among players, agents and even coaches around the NBA.
Before putting impressive destinations on his NBA resume, Eversley spent 10 years working at Nike. A source who knows Eversley spoke about the grind the job with Nike entailed, especially when it came to establishing relationships with players around the league.
It was a job that demanded building a relationship with a player, his agent, his family, his friends and anyone else in his camp. Eversley excelled at it and stood out enough that former Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo added him to the team’s mix in 2006.
Eversley eventually worked his way to the Wizards as their vice president of scouting, then landed with the 76ers, joining a front office that finally was seeing the benefits of its ‘‘process.’’
So what can Eversley do for the Bulls? Considering where their reputation had sunk to leaguewide, a lot.
Players talk, and the talk about the Bulls wasn’t good. Even before Jimmy Butler’s former trainer, Travelle Gaines, tweeted that he had ‘‘met drug dealers with better morals than [the Bulls’] GM’’ when referring to Gar Forman trading Butler to the Timberwolves in 2017, the Bulls’ front office had a reputation of not being very trustworthy.
And that wasn’t just Forman, either. As the ESPN documentary ‘‘The Last Dance’’ is reminding many, before Forman came Jerry Krause, whose player-relationship skills left much to be desired. Forman was a Krause disciple, so it stands to reason he was lacking in such skills, too.
But with chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf going outside the organization to hire Karnisovas, that has opened a door that long seemed locked.
The Bulls are in the midst of a rebuild that was in its third season before the NBA shut down because of the coronavirus outbreak. And while there seemed to be a foundation of young players acquired in the trade for Butler and in the draft, the rebuild didn’t seem to be headed anywhere under the former regime.
Former vice president of basketball operations John Paxson knew the Bulls eventually had to add a superstar to return to championship-caliber, but he never offered a clear explanation about how that would happen, considering all the free-agent snubs they had endured through the years. The additions of Karnisovas and Eversley, however, might be game-changers.
So what comes next? Karnisovas now has his GM, his cap specialist (J.J. Polk) and his player-personnel guru (Pat Connelly). The departments will continue to be built as the NBA decides what it will do with the rest of the season.
Then the new regime likely will decide whether coach Jim Boylen and his staff will stay or go.