Bulls executive Arturas Karnisovas explains the deadline inactivity

The Bulls were one of only two teams in the NBA — the Cavs were the other — not to make a move leading up to or at the NBA trade deadline Thursday.

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Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley.

Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley.

NEW YORK — Even with nothing to celebrate, Arturas Karnisovas did his best to win his news conference Thursday evening, explaining the Bulls’ inactivity as the trade deadline came and went earlier in the day.

The Bulls’ executive vice president of basketball operations hit the talking points that mattered most — several times in some cases — and now will sit back and watch the rest of the regular season play out, living to wheel-and-deal another day.

“I can start by saying we were pretty active at the trade deadline,” Karnisovas said, referring to phone calls made and received. “It just didn’t seem like there were deals for us to make to improve this group. After a busy couple of days, we came to the conclusion that this was the best group for us to give us the best chance to win.”

Winning is still the goal this season, as tough as the lack of action was to see. Karnisovas still feels the Bulls should not only win games but make the playoffs. Depending on whether that happens and how far a playoff run ends up going, he’ll address roster changes this summer, knowing what the market was asking for over the last few days.

“This trade deadline showed us that we have a lot of good players that have a lot of value around the league, and I think there’s [other] ways to [improve the team],” he said. “I think we turned the roster around the last couple of years. We’ve done deals in the summertime that a lot of people said we couldn’t do.”

Karnisovas said it’s a buyer’s market, and the Bulls went in looking to add, not subtract. Without getting into the specifics of how many teams he spoke with and which players were most sought, he did say the Bulls were open to discussing almost everyone on the team, especially with a record under .500. Earlier, the Sun-Times reported some talk with the Knicks about guard Zach LaVine, but those talks never got past which other players might be involved in a trade.

Addressing the rumors, LaVine said if the Bulls were performing better, it wouldn’t have been an issue.

“Those speculations don’t come out with winning teams,” he said. “Didn’t happen last year, so I think being one of the leaders of the team and understanding your positioning and the position of the team, your name is going to get thrown in stuff like that.”

The gut punch for fans wasn’t only what the Bulls didn’t do, but what the rest of the league did. The Bulls and Cavaliers were the only teams completely inactive. Karnisovas, however, noted that he felt the Eastern Conference “shifted” with other trade activity and that the Bulls could take advantage.

The action started early Thursday morning when the Nets sent two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant to the Suns, getting back a package that included forward Mikal Bridges. Earlier in the week, the Nets had sent Kyrie Irving to the Mavericks, ending the dream they once had of a title run led by James Harden, Irving and Durant.

After the Durant news broke, other dominoes started falling quickly. Among other big trades, the Lakers shipped Russell Westbrook to Utah in a three-team deal with the Jazz and Timberwolves, the Bucks acquired Jae Crowder after the Suns sent him to Brooklyn, and the Raptors landed Jakob Poeltl from the Spurs.

By the time the smoke cleared, the Western Conference had gotten interesting from the Lakers all the way up, while the top two teams in the East, the Celtics and Bucks, distanced themselves from the rest of the conference with their additions.

The Bulls? Crickets.

“Mediocrity and average is not OK with us,” Karnisovas said. “But the next step is what’s going to happen for the rest of the season, and then, how we can address — during the draft and free agency — our shortcomings.”

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