The most important acquisition the Bulls made this offseason? Sanity
With the dumpster fire that was the old regime finally put out, the Bulls find themselves a normal, functioning organization. And the first big exam, now that the coach is in place, is coming in a few weeks with the 2020 NBA Draft.
There is now structure.
An approving nod from the Chairman, Jerry Reinsdorf, a professional hands-off approach from COO Michael Reinsdorf, executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas making sure all basketball decisions start and end on his desk, and then a general manager in Marc Eversley who is looking to be an extension of Karnisovas.
A real functioning NBA organization.
It sounds so simple, but for the Bulls it’s been a chore for almost two decades.
The chaos in just the last five years has been well documented: Former GM Gar Forman sabotaging former coach Tom Thibodeau, trying to pit players against coach, all the while undermining former VP John Paxson by staying intertwined with the Reinsdorfs.
Paxson becoming numb to all the dysfunction, seemingly checking out at times and allowing the same power-hungry culprits room to try and devour each other.
And coaching staffs that had very little trust in one another post-Thibodeau, first with then-assistant Jim Boylen playing Judas to Fred Hoiberg, and then once he took Hoiberg’s chair, Boylen seeing a crack in Forman’s GM job when he was finally weakened, privately declaring himself with a “Coach/GM’’ title last season.
Sure, there’s still a few rats hiding in the bowels of the Advocate Center, but for the most part the swamp has been completely drained.
Now with new coach Billy Donovan on board, the Bulls are promising that the old ways of doing business died with the old front office regime exiting stage left.
That’s why the biggest offseason move this Bulls organization made was acquiring sanity.
“This was just a situation starting over for me that I was really excited about and looking forward to, and really what it comes down to is my relationship that we developed Arturas and I, and Marc being together in knowing that we were going to be working closely hand and hand with one another,’’ Donovan said last month, when asked about the power structure he was joining. “I think I share a lot of the same philosophies and thoughts, all the way around as far as basketball is concerned.
“Arturas and I … The word he kept using to me, which was powerful to me, is I want a partnership. I want to be partnered with somebody and I want to work and build together and have good dialogue and good communication and work very, very closely together and be involved with each other at every possible level of the organization, and I really appreciated that, that’s really what it came down to for me.’’
Not just coach-speak from Donovan, either.
The current Bulls players have commented on how well organized the structure now feels, and it will likely only improve once everyone gets to be around each other on a daily basis whenever the NBA decides to get the 2020-21 season underway.
“It’s a good question,’’ Eversley said of his role in the equation. “It’s something that we’re still working through on a daily basis. The buck does stop with [Karnisovas] in terms of decision-making. As a member of the front office, it’s my job to put him in a position to make great decisions for this organization going forward. With respect to specifics, I look at something like the coaching search, I was with him together when we went to Florida to meet with Billy, we collaborate on a daily basis, but ultimately he makes the decisions. So, it’s been great. I anticipate that it will continue to be great.’’
Eversley better hope so because it’s already time for this group to take its first major exam. Karnisovas and Co. have been cramming for the Nov. 18 NBA Draft, with the Bulls holding the keys on the No. 4 overall pick.
Do they keep it and snag a player like forward Deni Avdija? Do they try and move up or down? Or do they swing for the fences and send that pick in a package that could bring back a proven star in return?
As Karnisovas showed in his pursuit of Donovan, aggressiveness is always in play if it means the betterment of this franchise. There’s a time to be plodding and deliberate, and then a time to rip open the weapons crate and pull out the flame thrower.
That’s why there is finally sparks of hope building momentum with this organization.
A much better sight than the sparks coming from the dumpster fire that had been wheeled up and down Madison Street for years.