Bulls have a lot riding on the ‘Chicago 8 Bubble’ becoming a reality

It starts with new vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, but there are others who need a bubble to show their worth. Better believe coach Jim Boylen is at the top of the list.

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The Bulls and coach Jim Boylen remain in a holding pattern.

The Bulls and coach Jim Boylen remain in a holding pattern.


The masks are plentiful.

The in-house barbers are in place.

Sixers big man Joel Embiid has his hazmat suit.

Heat center Meyers Leonard even posted a video of his gaming setup in the hotel room he’ll be occupying the next few months — system, camera, monitor to stream on Twitch, the whole shebang.

The Orlando “bubble’’ is up and running, and the entire NBA is hoping it holds.

Put new Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas near the front of that line.

Karnisovas and the Bulls aren’t involved in the 22-team restart “bubble’’ but will be directly affected by it.

If the Orlando “bubble’’ doesn’t burst by September, the left-out organizations could form the “Chicago 8,’’ giving the league a second working platform to salvage something meaningful from the 2019-20 season.

Will it give the Bulls more than the 22 wins they earned from the lost season? No.

But it will give Karnisovas more answers. Something he desperately needs.

A source reiterated Friday that coach Jim Boylen remains confident that he’ll keep his job heading into next season and was pleased with the relationship he already has built with Karnisovas and new general manager Marc Eversley.

The Chicago Sun-Times, however, reported last month that Karnisovas and the new-look front office were prepared to make a coaching change once they went through a “deliberate’’ process of getting to know Boylen personally.

Why wait?

First of all, ownership has empowered Karnisovas to make all basketball decisions, but it also wanted him to at least be fair with Boylen.

“It’s very hard,’’ Karnisovas said last month when asked about the difficulty in discerning if players’ criticisms of Boylen were legit or agenda-driven. “Like I said, I need to be there. I need to see it for myself. As much as I could talk to players and their experiences previously, I’m looking forward and they’re looking forward to changes and improvements.

“I think all of them were disappointed. None of them was expecting to win 22 games.’’

The other reason Karnisovas has taken his time is that while the Sun-Times has reported that 76ers assistant coach Ime Udoka is the leading candidate to replace Boylen, Udoka is still in the first year of a three-year deal, and the Bulls aren’t the only team interested in him.

The Knicks reportedly have been seeking permission to interview him, and don’t rule out Udoka staying with the 76ers and getting a promotion if coach Brett Brown is ousted.

Karnisovas has the most to gain with a “Chicago 8 Bubble,’’ but he’s not the only one in the organization with a lot riding on it:

Jim Boylen: Would being able to show his new bosses that he has strong relationships with players, as well as a developmental plan, help keep him in his chair? Unlikely, but never say never. Minds seemingly are made up, but Boylen would love the opportunity to win over the new regime and has a history of building bonds with the higher-ups.

Lauri Markkanen: The Bulls would love to sign Markkanen to an extension based on a down year for the 7-footer and an expected hit to the cap with all the money the league is hemorrhaging. Offer low and hope. The belief is Markkanen, however, won’t bite. Having a bubble to show he deserves more would be ideal for Markkanen, but would he even show up and play if it was voluntary?

Coby White: The rookie finally won the starting point-guard spot . . . for one game before the coronavirus shutdown. He needs the bubble to show the front office that it need not shop in the point-guard aisle at draft time.

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