Bulls bubble is building trust even with guard Kris Dunn going MIA

While the level of basketball has been inconsistent with months off, new general manager Marc Eversley said the last week has been about evaluating what’s on the court. And, more important, it has been about building organizational trust off the court.

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Bulls executives Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley are evaluating what direction the team should take.

Bulls executives Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley are evaluating what direction the team should take.


It hasn’t been the best basketball played within the Bulls bubble, but that’s not what the new front office was going to dwell on.

This was about getting basic questions answered.

This was about building relationships.

This was about just getting back on the floor as a team and embracing the business of basketball after months of uncertainty.

“These guys have not played basketball since spring,’’ general manager Marc Eversley said Wednesday, when asked about the quality of hoops on display through the first week. “And the little basketball that they were able to do was really just one-on-zero with one coach or one coach rebounding, so for them to go from not being able to play basketball this spring to now we’re in [late] September, clearly they were not in basketball shape. A lot of them, their stamina was not there and then when you get tired, your efficiency goes down.

“I think over the first week of the bubble, the level of play has increased just from reps standpoint, just from being able to get their wind.’’

So there’s the hall pass.

What Eversley and Co. won’t overlook, however, is the importance of this group coming together both on and off the court, as most of this roster is now dealing with a third coaching change over the last three seasons.

That’s why there’s been the team golf outings, and that’s why there’s been the high-intensity ping-pong games.

Executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and Eversley have months to make roster decisions, but organizational trust has to be built immediately.

“I believe in getting to know people away from their environment,’’ Eversley said. “For our players, the environment is the basketball court. I think if you invest in people away from the court, I think you get a better opportunity to know them better. I think you show a different level of care and trust. I want our players to understand that it’s not just about basketball. It’s about life. Especially in these times, I think it’s really important to invest in your people away from the court.

“That’s always worked for me every step of the way. I just think it’s a really, really important thing to do. And I think it shows a different level of care. Ultimately, gaining people’s trust is what you want. And I think that’s how I’ve handled building relationships during my career.’’

The one black eye in this bubble, if a possible free agent’s absence could even be considered a black eye, has been Kris Dunn opting out of the voluntary camp.

The Bulls have to make a decision on Dunn or let him test the free-agent market this offseason, and while the belief has been that the often-injured point guard sat out to make sure he’s healthy to maximize his free agency, Eversley said that Dunn was still recovering.

While the GM wouldn’t say what he was recovering from, Dunn did suffer a season-ending right knee injury in February.

“He’s on the road rehabbing by himself, which we fully support,’’ Eversley said. “Whether he’s going to be with us going forward is a decision we’ll make when we get together post-bubble and start talking roster construction.’’

Until then there was a ton more evaluating to do, and ping-pong losses to be avenged.

“Well, I touched a golf club for the first time in my life so that was pretty exciting,’’ forward Lauri Markkanen said of his first week. “It went better than I thought it would go.

“I can’t wait to play Arturas again in ping-pong. I need to get him back. He got one from me, so I need to get a rematch on that.’’

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