The Chicago Bulls are operating through action instead of empty press conferences.
Let’s all pause and travel back in time to March.
The Chicago Bulls finally grew a couple of brain cells and started their lottery pick point guard Coby White for the first time against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They won the contest, with White showing promise as a future backcourt mate of Zach LaVine.
John Paxson and Gar Forman were still in charge. Jim Boylen was still the head coach. The rebuild process seemed to be going about as well as one could expect with such a cast of clowns leading the way.
Cue the pandemic and the massive overhaul that no one could have seen coming, regardless of rumors circulating around the all-star break of “change” coming to the Bulls front office.
When the hire of new executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas was announced, Bulls Nation didn’t know much about him more than the fact that he was knowledgeable and respected around the basketball world.
His actions would soon say a whole heck of a lot, as Karnisovas came out of the gates firing.
In the blink of an eye, old figureheads were forming a line out of AK’s office to be handed their walking papers.
Forman was gone, athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka was promptly told to hit the bricks, and Paxson was shoved into an advisory role. Karnisovas quickly hired his own staff to fill voids left by his bold moves, including a new general manager in Marc Eversley.
Just as quickly as he had made moves, AK seemed to vanish, leaving just one key member of the previous front office intact: Jim Boylen, who most thought should have been the first to go, after amassing a disgusting 39-84 record with the Bulls (2nd worst win rate in franchise history).
Chicago fans, of course, lost their freaking minds.
“This is the same thing as last time!” they all cried on social media.
“The Reinsdorfs won’t give up control! Arturas should quit right now if he isn’t allowed to fire Boylen!”
Ah, good times.
Karnisovas did end up firing Boylen in August, waiting until the official end of the regular season to do it instead of doing something like, I don’t know, firing Boylen on Christmas Eve or something.
After that, the Bulls front office was once again on airplane mode as the coaching search began. There were rumors of a few assistant coaches getting an opportunity, we knew there were interviews going on, but nothing flashy was made public.
Then, once again, BOOM! The Chicago Bulls hire Billy Donovan as their next head coach!
This hire was the one that made it real for me: Arturas and the Bulls are working towards being the face of the NBA once more.
Listening to the introductory press conference gave an insight into the recruiting philosophy of Karnisovas. Much like the Clippers making their pitch to Kawhi Leonard in the summer of 2019, nothing was made public until the deal was official and holy smokes, did the news come out of nowhere.
Karnisovas apparently recruited Billy soon after he was let go from Oklahoma City, with Donovan responding that he needed the weekend to think about it.
Guess who called Donovan first thing Monday morning.
This entire process I believe gives us insight on just how different the AK/Eversley regime will be from GarPax.
The new guys will not speak unless there is something to talk about like hiring a new coach or moving up in the draft lottery. Much different than John Paxson making an appearance on local radio shows to complain about how much pressure he is under.
Paxson back in February 2019 during a radio interview on 670 the Score:
On @McNeil_Parkins, #Bulls executive John Paxson discussed the state of the franchise in the second year of its rebuild and defended the team’s perception throughout the league.
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) February 8, 2019
That was the second year of the rebuild that Paxson assured that he was doing right. The differences between hearing Pax and AK talk are night and day, and it is so welcomed.
Bulls fans have to be patient, however, as the recovery from the nearly 20 years of GarPax is going to take a lot of time. As Big Dave Watson of BAWL! Sports and NBC Sports Chicago says all the time “let the man cook”.
Karnisovas and Eversley should also keep in the back of their mind that coming into Bulls culture at this point is like adopting a 17-year-old kid who has been abused for a big chunk of their life.
(Yes, being subjected to GarPax was basketball abuse.)
Fans of Chicago basketball have been subjected to mediocrity and front office ineptitude surrounding a three-and-a-half-year window where it looked like Derrick Rose might pull the Bulls out of 90s nostalgia and bring us into the now.
Obviously, that didn’t happen.
Now, after a trade that sent our previously best player in Jimmy Butler away (who just came out of his first NBA Finals), we’re all ready to jump the ship at first notice.
It’s time to sit back and watch actual professionals in this business do their jobs. Enjoy the silence out of the Bulls, because something awesome is soon to come once they speak. This is a new era of Bulls basketball.