CHIGAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Bulls have found their new front office leader. After less than a week of interviews, the Bulls are reportedly set to hire Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas to be the team’s new executive vice president of basketball operations. Terms of the deal are still being worked out.
The Chicago Bulls are finalizing a deal with Denver Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas to become the franchise’s new Executive VP of Basketball Operations, sources tell ESPN. Karnisovas will be tasked with hiring a new GM and reshaping the front office.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 9, 2020
With the NBA shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bulls have been busy interviewing candidates for the lead front office role. Interviewees have also included current and former NBA executives like Bryan Colangelo, Wes Wilcox and current Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik. But Karnisovas quickly emerged as the frontrunner.
Karnisovas, who has been with the Nuggets organization since 2013 and their GM since 2017, reportedly impressed in his interviews. Under his and president of basketball operations Tim Connelly’s direction, the Nuggets have gone from afterthought to Western Conference powerhouse. Karnisovas had a say in drafting foundational players like Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Michael Porter Jr.
Karnisovas has recently been considered for the top job with other NBA teams, including the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. If Tim Connelly had accepted the Washington Wizards’ job offer last year, Karnisovas likely would have taken over the top position in Denver.
The Bulls new executive vice president of basketball operations will select his own general manager. So GarPax, for all intents and purposes, has reached its conclusion. Gar Forman and John Paxson’s futures remain uncertain, though both could retain symbolic and/or advisory roles with the team.
The Bulls haven’t reached 30 wins the past three seasons. (Tom Thibodeau’s exit in 2015 probably has something to do with it.) And their success under Forman and Paxson pales in comparison to their glory days. A wholesale rebuild, such as the one the Bulls have been mired in for three seasons, requires patience. But reports also suggest that patience has grown thin in Chicago. Lauri Markkanen, seen as a cornerstone, wants out if things don’t change and soon.
The hiring of Karnisovas, given his track record out west, certainly qualifies as positive change, and should provide hope to a Bulls organization not willing to settle for losing.