Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas might be at a crossroads
The Bulls are still searching for a consistent identity with trade decisions starting to take shape in the next month.
Thirty-plus games are in the books, the NBA’s Christmas Day extravaganza has come and gone and January is staring front offices across the league in the face.
It’s the time of the season when most teams have a good idea of what they are and what they need to do by the trade deadline Feb. 9.
Then there’s the Bulls.
They’re the ultimate Jekyll-and-Hyde team, constructed by executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas on ‘‘continuity’’ and hope.
That’s not always a great foundation.
The continuity has proved to be bad cement, and the hope is wet wood that still hasn’t dried out and might not this season.
Beat the Celtics twice and shock the Bucks in their own backyard? That’s great, but that same résumé also features embarrassing losses to the Magic, Spurs, Thunder, Timberwolves and a 133-118 stinker Monday to the Rockets.
No wonder coach Billy Donovan recently said the most consistent trait his roster has shown this season is being inconsistent.
‘‘Maybe when we play against the teams with better records, we have that sense of urgency,’’ veteran forward DeMar DeRozan said of the loss to the Rockets. ‘‘I don’t know.
‘‘We can’t just expect to win just because it’s the Rockets and it’s a bunch of young guys over there. Everybody in this league can beat anybody. We’ve gotta be conscious of that. Every single game has that much importance for us, and we’ve gotta have that sense of urgency.’’
Center Nikola Vucevic took it a step further. He knows front offices will start making decisions in the coming weeks, so in his opinion, ‘‘We’ve got to start taking every game as a must-win.’’
The Bulls aren’t in the best part of their schedule to be facing that kind of pressure.
In the next two-plus weeks, the 14-19 Bulls will host the Bucks, Cavaliers, Nets, Jazz and Warriors and visit the Cavaliers, 76ers and Celtics.
It’s anyone’s guess as to how the Bulls will fare. And how this stretch plays out might influence what Karnisovas decides to do.
While outsiders are quick to yell, ‘‘Blow it up!’’ it’s easier said than done. There’s the Lonzo Ball factor to consider, with the Bulls waiting to see whether the rehab on his surgically repaired left knee will start moving in a positive direction.
If the Bulls want to move one of their ‘‘Big Three,’’ DeRozan is the best asset, but what’s the return? Ideally, Karnisovas would like to get a draft pick in whatever package he could acquire for him, but DeRozan is the type of player a contender would look to grab. Unless that contending team has another team’s lottery pick to send back in return, it wouldn’t be a huge help.
And maybe the biggest obstacle in ‘‘blowing it up’’ is that Karnisovas would have to admit he was wrong in how he constructed this roster. Maybe he’s the type of executive who can put his ego aside and admit that, but the fact that he has refused media requests to discuss the season so far doesn’t exactly indicate accountability.
However this plays out, the Bulls soon might find themselves at a crossroads. And how Karnisovas handles that could start to build or tear down his legacy.
NOTE: Guard Alex Caruso (concussion/shoulder) and forward Javonte Green (right knee) participated in a light scrimmage after practice Tuesday.