Bulls’ voluntary minicamp bubble is done, but the work only gets harder
The NBA’s new normal is a minefield that all the front offices will have to maneuver through, and the next task is getting ready for the Nov. 18 draft. The Bulls hope they have the right pieces in place to do just that.
The Bulls’ new leadership team often has run into hurdles.
That situation won’t change much in the post-bubble NBA.
If anything, dealing with the new league normal the next few months is going to be even more trying for vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley.
They have to continue to monitor their players now that the voluntary minicamp ended this week, making sure they stay in shape, rehab injuries and embrace coach Billy Donovan’s concepts. Then they have to start looking for additional options with a roster that is basically locked.
The first assignment is preparing for the NBA Draft on Nov. 18, which will be no easy task.
“Obviously, working mostly virtual, a lot of our work has been done via Zoom calls and video work,’’ Eversley said of the challenges the coronavirus has presented.
“Obviously, there’s not going to be a live combine where we actually get to bring players into Chicago and work them out. Obviously, there aren’t going to be draft workouts where we get to bring them into the facility and work them out and get to talk to them and have our coaches work with them.
“So it’s been a challenge. But every team is going through the same thing.
‘‘We look forward to progressing toward the draft. Post-bubble, it will become one of the No. 1 things on our list. It’s a critical time on the calendar. And in terms of roster-building, it’s going to be something that we’re laser-focused on as we progress toward the draft.’’
The Bulls have the fourth overall pick, but nothing has been ruled out, including moving up or down or even packaging the pick to try to land a proven star.
As Karnisovas and Co. showed when they hunted down Donovan just days after he and the Thunder parted ways, they will be deliberate but aggressive.
And if there’s an offseason to move off the fourth overall pick, it’s this one.
Despite Karnisovas’ optimistic evaluation of the crop of players, the consensus is that this isn’t a strong draft class. And that’s without even factoring in the coronavirus limitations on scouting. The best player can be had at No. 16 as easily as he can be found at No. 1 or No. 3.
“So you lose the human and the personal touch when you don’t get to bring players into your market,’’ Eversley said. “Whether that’s over at the Advocate Center, watching them work out on the floor, or it’s interviewing them face-to-face, there’s a component of taking players to dinner or lunch and actually sitting with them and talking to them.
“Those types of things are potentially lost when you don’t get to spend time with them face-to-face. I put a lot of value in talking to people and spending time with people. It’s great to talk over Zoom, but I really think there’s a deeper connection when you get to spend time with somebody face-to-face.’’
The good news for the Bulls is that in building their new front office, they have intel on this draft class from multiple organizations. Then if you factor in Donovan’s influence, the Bulls could have an advantage that other organizations in the lottery don’t.
All NBA coaches have their college connections, but Donovan was on a path toward legendary status in his days at Florida. He left for the NBA in 2015, but his cell-phone contact list is vast.
“This is a challenging time,’’ Donovan said. “There’s no question about that.’’