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Daniel Greenberg: The Chicago Bulls have hired Vanja Cernivec as an international scout, per source. Vanja played professional basketball in Slovenia. From 2015 to 2020, she worked at the NBA's office in Spain as the manager of basketball operations. Big hire by the Bulls.
Your larger question is a good one. My sense is that the new regime wants to figure out why this roster has underachieved and then reconstruct it in their own image moving forward. Think more athleticism. Think more two-way players. I think they use this season to gauge who fits and who doesn't and then work towards shaping the roster with those they determine worth keeping, plus additions through future drafts and free agency.
And in some sense, the fact the Bulls are drawing from executives who have varying backgrounds working for different franchises could help them. Each will bring different perspectives and predraft protocols to the table. The fact Karnišovas and Eversley are using holdovers like Brian Hagen and Steve Weinman also gives some of the previous regime's flavor. That regime had more draft hits than misses. I've heard Karnišovas has valued his relationship with senior adviser John Paxson, who ceded complete autonomy but is willing to assist the new regime whenever they ask him for any input.
As one Bulls player told the Sun-Times on Wednesday, however, the growing concern is no current player is really being listened to. LaVine, several veterans, a seemingly disgruntled rookie, no one. For a new-look front office that came out on Day 1 and said they would build a foundation on being “players first,’’ it’s now starting to feel like they’re not even in the top three.
It’s been expressed very publicly by the likes of Denzel Valentine and second-round pick Daniel Gafford, and it’s also been expressed privately with the Sun-Times reporting that several key players were very open with executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas in initial conversations that went on when Karnisovas was hired, painting a very mixed review of the job Boylen had been doing. Enough so that several NBA scouts familiar with Eversley and Karnisovas had heard that the two were zeroing in on going after Philadelphia assistant coach Ime Udoka to take over the head coaching seat.
Yet, it’s now almost August, Bulls players have been in and out of town for voluntary workouts at the Advocate Center, and the early buzz of all the changes that were being made throughout the organization have suddenly been replaced by crickets. Not only with the coaching staff, but the rest of the expected build out of the front office. According to one player, it instead feels like very little has changed.
I don't know Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley well enough to know exactly what all their future plans are. I will tell you in the conversations I have had with people that are in the know and just kind of the what's going on around the team... my sense is that they like the roster. Not I'm not saying anybody's untouchable, but they think that there's talent on the roster and they're more focused on why has that a talent underachieved as opposed to making major changes.
The fact that Karnisovas has full autonomy to reshape basketball operations is being called into question from some corners now that he’s been on the job for over three months and not fired coach Jim Boylen. Multiple outlets, including NBC Sports Chicago, have reported Karnisovas indeed owns the authority to recommend a coaching change to ownership, the standard leaguewide protocol for such decisions.
So Karnisovas has chosen the route to empower Boylen and his staff for now. As previously reported, Karnisovas has told Boylen to focus strictly on coaching. No more worrying about dealing with player agents. No more worrying about meet-and-greets with season-ticket holders.
Management has sought Boylen’s input on player development strategies, according to sources. There have been discussions regarding the draft and free agency. Boylen has watched voluntary workouts at the Advocate Center with Karnisovas and Eversley, and they’ve dined together as well.
The Bulls hired Eversley three weeks after vehement blowback from Black executives over not having any candidates for the open executive vice-president of basketball operations job. Former Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas got the top job, while Eversley was hired as the No. 2 man. Behind the scenes, there’s still skepticism about the Bulls. “I could just see people saying they hired him because they needed a Black face,” said one high-ranking African American team executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Another African American senior league executive, speaking anonymously, asked why Eversley didn’t get interviewed for the top job. “With all due respect, I am delighted that Marc Eversley is the GM of the Bulls,” the league executive said. “But why wasn’t Marc Eversley interviewed to be the president of basketball operations? Why was there no one of color interviewed for that position? You mean to tell me that there was nobody in the mind of the leadership of the Bulls qualified to take on that job as president? Or was it just that they don’t know anybody? “So the question I’m asking is what took them so long. Somebody needs to ask the question. That question needs to be asked more and more league-wide.”
As in any industry, connectivity is imperative, and often times cultural perspective can get ignored. But that perspective is pivotal in every aspect of NBA business, from scouting to coaching to negotiations. “It’s a relationship business,” the Western Conference exec said. “You’ve got to have relationships with the players and coaches. For all of us to be connected in some form or fashion it only bodes well. There should be no separation. Everyone should be working together to push the franchise forward and win.”
The Bulls seem to have had a bad image in terms of perception by free agents for years, what kind of work do you think the new front office will have to do to rehabilitate that image? @Patrick H. A lot of it is relationships. If they carry the pre-existing relationships people I have talked to insist they do, the job could be easy. I've heard from more than a few people who have been extremely impressed with the direction of the franchise.
Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley already have had detailed discussions with players and retained personnel from the previous regime and were getting enough mixed reviews that they were leaning toward starting with a new coach. Ownership and former vice president of basketball operations John Paxson have supported Boylen, but a source reiterated that Bulls president Michael Reins-dorf was by no means trying to influence the front office’s decision and would allow Boylen’s dismissal if Karnisovas wanted to go that route. No questions asked.
The Sun-Times has reported that Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley have already had detailed discussions with players and retained personnel, and were getting enough mixed feedback of what’s gone on the last year that they were leaning toward starting with a new coach of their choosing. Ownership and former VP of basketball operations John Paxson have given support for Boylen, but a source reiterated that COO Michael Reinsdorf was by no means influencing the front office’s decision on the coach and would allow Boylen’s dismissal if Karnisovas wants to go that way. No questions asked.
Joe Cowley: According to a source, a decision had to be made on Tanaka for contract reasons. From my seat, Tanaka was very good at his job, but an even better person. Put up with a lot of strange decisions over the years, and remained the loyal soldier.
Marc Eversley, the first black man to become general manager of the Chicago Bulls, will certainly be noticed in the Windy City, standing 6 feet, 8 inches tall. But in his quest to help rebuild the Bulls, he also hopes to be visible among Chicago’s black youth and use his story to inspire others. “I am a black man who has a leadership position in a city with so many black youth,” Eversley told The Undefeated. “I see this as an opportunity. Being visible is important. My position with the Bulls provides resources to help drive change. We all can do better and I intend to do more.”
During seven years with the Raptors, Eversley would be promoted to vice president of scouting and assistant general manager. At one point, Eversley and Masai Ujiri both worked under Colangelo as assistant general managers. “You’re working for your hometown team, the game you love, you got a pretty good position with a growing organization, you’ve got a boss who’s giving you autonomy to grow and he’s giving you a platform to grow,” said Eversley, who lists being part of the drafting of DeMar DeRozan as his greatest accomplishment in Toronto. “It was perfect, it was tailor-made. At the time, we had a little bit of brand building to do with the franchise in the organization. Trying to put Toronto on the NBA map. … “I worked with Chris Bosh, who was an emerging star, he was about to become an All-Star, developed a great relationship and friendship with him, which I still have today. I just learned a bunch of different things.”
“I love his experience at Nike,” Reinsdorf said. “It shows his ability to connect, not only with players but also with their families and support teams. When it comes to working in the NBA, he hasn’t skipped any steps. He methodically worked his way through different organizations gaining tremendous experience.” Karnisovas called Eversley on the night of April 26 to offer him the position. “As he’s saying that, my jaw is dropping and I’m like, ‘This is really freaking happening,’ ” Eversley said. “After eight or nine days of not sleeping, studying, it just became real in that moment. You try and contain your emotions and try to stay cool in the moment.”
The Chicago Bulls have hired Marc Eversley to be the team's General Manager. In this role, Eversley will report directly to Executive Vice President — Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas and primarily be responsible for overseeing the implementation of all elements of the basketball operations process. "I set out to find a General Manager who complemented my vision and values, and who could help implement them at the Bulls in a fresh way. Marc's background and skills do exactly that," said Karnisovas. "He has a history of building strong relationships across the board, identifying talent at organizations that have had success during his time there, and the necessary insight for building a network that will be an asset to our program. He's ready for this next step in his career, and I'm looking forward to working with him to build the Bulls back into a perennial contender."
The Bulls recently hired Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley to run their front office. Are you familiar with Arturas or Marc, and have you had a chance to talk to either of them yet? Zach LaVine: Yeah, I’ve talked to them both and I’m extremely excited to get to working with them. It’s something that I think we needed – a switch-up so that the Bulls fans can see that we’re looking in the right direction and getting better. Obviously, we all love the work that Gar [Forman] and Pax (John Paxson) have done for us and the city of Chicago. I think the fans sometimes give them a hard time because they want the results here and now, but it’s hard to do that in sports. It really is. They had a really good run at it, and they’re still beloved. Obviously, I’m just excited to get this started and get right into it.
KC Johnson: In talking to people around league about Marc Eversley, one consistent theme is his strong relationships with players. Had good rapport with DeMar DeRozan in Toronto and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sixers assistant GM Marc Eversley has agreed to a deal to become the Chicago Bulls new general manager, league sources tell ESPN. Eversley will join EVP of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas to lead a reshaped front office.
KC Johnson: Can confirm Bulls have reached agreement with 76ers assistant GM Marc Eversley to be Arturas Karnisovas’ GM. @Adrian Wojnarowski 1st with news.
A source said that Karnisovas was still drawing opinions on who stays and who goes, as well as collecting information on what he has to work with from a personnel standpoint. All the while, he is still going through the interview process to find a general manager, a process that could carry through at least next week.
Does Karnisovas privately see a front-runner? Only Karnisovas knows that for sure, as the former Denver GM has reportedly spoken to Marc Eversley (Philadelphia 76ers), Mark Hughes (Los Angeles Clippers), Matt Lloyd (Orlando Magic) and Michael Finley (Dallas Mavericks). The source did say Finley made a great impression on Karnisovas, but there was no indication of a leader for that job heading into the weekend.
Joe Cowley: Saw the @Sportando tweet on A.Brown. Looks like it has now been deleted. Heard this morning the process was still on-going for a GM. That's all I can go on.
Mavericks vice president of basketball operations Michael Finley has ties to Dallas as an NBA player. And to Chicago — where he grew up and recently auditioned for a promotion. A league source said Finley interviewed for the Bulls’ general manager job that opened last week after the organization's front-office upheaval. ESPN was first to report the news.
Mavericks vice president of basketball operations Michael Finley has ties to Dallas as an NBA player. And to Chicago — where he grew up and recently auditioned for a promotion. A league source said Finley interviewed for the Bulls’ general manager job that opened last week after the organization's front-office upheaval. ESPN was first to report the news.
Tim MacMahon: Sources: Mavericks vice president of basketball operations Michael Finley interviewed for the Bulls' general manager job. Finley, a Chicago native who was twice an All-Star in his 15-year career, has spent the last seven seasons in the Dallas front office.
There are candidates on Karnisovas’ list beyond the previously reported names of Matt Lloyd (Magic), Mark Hughes (Clippers) and Marc Eversley (76ers.) In fact, in another sign this is a new era in Bulls basketball, sources said Karnisovas hasn’t ruled out interviewing select player agents. Jerry Reinsdorf historically frowned upon dealing with agents, a stance changed when Michael Reinsdorf interviewed Jazz general manager Justin Zanik, who started as an agent, for the executive vice president of basketball operations role. This is one of Karnisovas’ most critical hires, and there is speculation around the league that he has preferred candidates. You don’t spend time hoping to lead a franchise one day without formulating ideas about how to execute a leadership plan.
According to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel, the Bulls have not requested permission to contact Battier, who has spent the past three years with the Miami Heat as the team's vice president of basketball development and analytics.
Will Gar Forman be hired by another team? The early talk around the league is yes. Forman, for all his issues involving trust with some agents and other executives, is also known as an extremely strong talent evaluator. He has two years left on his contract with the Bulls, which will be paid to him in some fashion, a source said. But he’s likely to land a scouting job with another team.
Scottie Pippen says he got FIRED from his role with the Chicago Bulls ... but don't feel bad for the guy, 'cause he's pretty glad to be away from that mess!! The 6-time champ revealed the move on the Thuzio Live & Unfiltered podcast (which was recorded during All-Star Weekend but released Wednesday) ... explaining he couldn't come to an agreement with the Bulls front office prior to the 2019 season, so they canned him. "I got fired this year. I didn't really want it to be in the public, but I'm no longer employed by the Bulls," Pippen said in the interview.
Here's what went down ... the Bulls reportedly met with Pippen before the season and asked him to make several commitments that would mess up his gig with ESPN's "The Jump" ... but wouldn't budge on compensation, so they let him go. So ... how is Pippen taking it?? Let's say pretty well. "It's probably a good thing, right? ... I like to associate myself with winning."
Despite speculated interest, the Chicago Bulls have not requested permission from the Miami Heat to contact Vice President of Basketball Development and Analytics Shane Battier, an NBA source confirmed to the Sun Sentinel. Battier's name had been floated as a possible option for the Bulls' vacancy at general manager on the staff being formulated by Arturas Karnisovas, who was hired away from the Denver Nuggets last week as Chicago's executive vice president of basketball operations.
Heat Vice President of Basketball Operations Adam Simon had been among the candidates pursued by the Bulls for the job that went to Karnisovas, with the Heat last week issuing a statement about retaining Simon, "He loves it here and we love having him." Battier is in the midst of his third season with the Heat under his present title, joining Pat Riley's Heat front office on Feb. 16, 2017, following a career that saw him share in Heat championships in 2012 and '13.
Joe Cowley: Source said that Miami up-and-comer assistant GM Shane Battier won't be interviewing for the Bulls GM job. Call it a mutual knowledge that the Heat covet Battier and won't be letting him venture out.
Karnisovas, who was the only candidate to have multiple interviews the last few days — including a final conversation with Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf — will replace John Paxson. A source said Paxson, who will move into an advisory role, has been kept on as a sounding board for Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf. Paxson would only offer opinions on basketball matters if Karnisovas asks. This is completely Karnisovas’ show now.
Reinsdorf leaned on a variety of people to shape his perspective. He picked the brains of rival owners and general managers, agents, former players, the league office and media members. He wanted names of good candidates. But most important was learning how other franchises operated.
Karnisovas, who was the only candidate to have multiple interviews the last few days — including a final conversation with Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf — will replace John Paxson. A source said Paxson, who will move into an advisory role, has been kept on as a sounding board for Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf. Paxson would only offer opinions on basketball matters if Karnisovas asks. This is completely Karnisovas’ show now.
Reinsdorf leaned on a variety of people to shape his perspective. He picked the brains of rival owners and general managers, agents, former players, the league office and media members. He wanted names of good candidates. But most important was learning how other franchises operated.
Arturas Karnisovas: Let's be clear: our ultimate goal is to bring an NBA championship to the city of Chicago. This is what every team in the NBA strives for, day in and day out. In the end, only one team wins each season, and there are countless factors out of one's control that allow for this goal to be realized. What IS in our control, is our approach and processes behind each decision we make. We will adopt a habit of excellence and as a team, we will expect and demand a lot from each other, in order to rise to the expectations of our fans.
Arturas Karnisovas: My role with the Bulls is an unparalleled professional opportunity; the height of a dream for me. I grew up watching the Chicago Bulls – that team represented American basketball and the NBA to a kid from Lithuania. Like many around the world, I have always held a love for this franchise, which is why it is such an immense privilege to play a role in the revival of this legendary team. Though there will be challenges, these are challenges I feel well prepared for.
Emiliano Carchia: Nuggets Basketball Operations Associate Martynas Pocius may join Arturas Karnisovas to the Chicago Bulls, a source told @Emiliano Carchia
During his interview process, Karnisovas conveyed to ownership that he viewed Paxson as a resource, not a roadblock, sources said — though Paxson only will be used as a sounding board. Karnisovas has full authority on all basketball decisions and already has begun building out the organizational infrastructure with the hire of at least one assistant general manager. Karnisovas also has been compiling a list of general manager candidates and plans to begin the interview process — including requesting permission for candidates currently under contract with other teams — in the near future, sources said.
Gar Forman is expected to pursue scouting opportunities with other teams. Sources said the Bulls planned to offer some form of settlement on the two remaining years on Forman’s contract. Though Forman sometimes rankled some agents and executives with his secretive ways, he has developed a leaguewide reputation as an elite talent evaluator. Drafting Jimmy Butler at No. 30 and Taj Gibson at No. 26 are concrete examples of this.
KC Johnson: Arturas on using Paxson: "I think right from the start during this hiring process, they were hiring No. 1 decision maker. John has a great reputation around the league and can be an asset. I appreciate his candor. he could be a huge help while I'm making this transition."
Joe Cowley: Michael Reinsdorf confirms Sun-Times story that John Paxson was willing to step down if asked.
Shams Charania: After 22 years in the Chicago Bulls organization, GM Gar Forman has been fired.
KC Johnson: Gar Forman in statement: "It has been an honor and a privilege to work for the Chicago Bulls for more than two decades. There is no better ownership group in professional sports than the Reinsdorfs, and I want to thank Jerry and Michael for their support during my tenure."
KC Johnson: More Paxson: "I’ve always tried to do what was best for our organization and put our team in position to succeed, and ultimately compete. I know Arturas will do the same. He brings the kind of talent, experience and commitment to collaboration that will allow him to succeed."
Michael Singer: Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly on departure of AK to Chicago: “It’s a bittersweet moment as we are losing a trusted colleague and a best friend, but we are so unbelievably proud of Arturas. He’s going to be an absolute home run hire for the Bulls.”
Darnell Mayberry: The Bulls make the Arturas Karnisovas hire official, announcing him as executive vice president of basketball operations in a press release. A formal press conference will be held at a later date.
As of Saturday, Karnisovas had no definite plans to meet with current coach Jim Boylen, said a source, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The front office build-out is priority No. 1, but the NBA can announce a shutdown of the regular season at any point, and it would only be fair to let Boylen and his staff know if they need to start looking elsewhere or would be returning.
The whispers, rumors, and speculation concerning the newly-hired Bulls head executive slowed down on Saturday, with one source saying Karnisovas was still talking to potential general-manager candidates, getting permission about possible interviews, and scheduling times.
Mike McGraw: One name I’ve heard for potential #Bulls GM is Dell Demps, former Pelicans GM. Lot of ties with JJ Polk and Tim Connnelly, who hired Karnisovas in Denver. Former DePaul forward David Booth also has ties to that crew.
Storyline: Bulls Front Office
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October 19, 2020 | 11:01 am EDT Update

Timberwolves interested in Obi Toppin

Not every NBA evaluator loves LaMelo Ball, whose shooting and professionalism have been questioned by some around the league, even if they still have him at or near the top of their board. And not everyone trusts Anthony Edwards’ style and impact or sees James Wiseman’s upside or value in today’s NBA. Sources tell B/R the Minnesota Timberwolves are high on Toppin. The question is whether they’d be willing to take him first overall or if they’d only draft the big man out of Dayton in a trade-down scenario.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 441 more rumors
Multiple NBA front office members told B/R they feel they can mask Toppin’s defensive weaknesses by playing him at center, where he won’t guard as much around the perimeter and can still use his athleticism for shot-blocking at the rim. Toppin’s age (22) has also rarely come up as a deterrent. Teams sound persuaded by his offense, which is something the Timberwolves (No. 24 in offensive rating), Hawks (No. 25), Cavaliers (No. 26), Hornets (No. 28) and Bulls (No. 29) could obviously use.
Multiple sources have emphatically said Milwaukee will not look to trade Antetokounmpo if he passes on the extension. Instead, the Bucks will try to improve their roster and use the next year to show Antetokounmpo why he should stay. Waiting would give Antetokounmpo maximum leverage over Milwaukee over the next 12 months. If the Bucks are willing to add to their payroll to improve the team — something ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported they are — Milwaukee could chase a significant upgrade in trades (despite being short on prime assets).
The Indiana Pacers can offer an extension beginning at 120% of Oladipo’s salary for the 2020-21 season — a deal that would start around $26 million, a few million per year below what he could sign on a max contract next offseason as an unrestricted free agent. Oladipo, who suffered a torn quadriceps tendon in January 2019 and then struggled upon returning this year, could want to come back next season and try to prove he’s still the All-NBA player he was in 2018.
Storyline: Victor Oladipo Free Agency
The Raptors have two primary goals this offseason: re-sign guard Fred VanVleet, and do so without eating too much into their max cap space for 2021. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, any VanVleet deal around four years and $80 million should keep Toronto in the superstar race next offseason. But things get dicey if the Raptors start competing with bigger offers for one of their most important players.
October 19, 2020 | 8:44 am EDT Update

Bulls to trade up to No. 1 or 2 in draft?

Speaking on the latest Bulls Talk Podcast with K.C. Johnson, Tom Haberstroh said he’s expecting Karnišovas to pursue a move up in his first draft as executive vice president of basketball operations. “I think [Karnišovas] might move up, because I think No. 1 with Minnesota and No. 2 (with Golden State) is going to be readily available,” Haberstroh said. “I would be surprised if you didn’t see Charlotte (at No. 3) or Chicago move up in the draft.”
For now, there is a leaguewide moratorium on transactions while the NBA and NBPA hammer out modifications to the CBA in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic-affected 2019-20 season. But come draft night, Haberstroh thinks the floodgates could open. “I also just think people are going to be more trigger-happy, make some deals because they’ve been so far away, so far removed from real NBA stuff that I do think there’s going to be a circus on draft night with the No. 1 pick,” he said on the podcast. “Top five I just think it’s just going to be all hands on deck.”
It will be the market, likely even more than heartstrings for the Heat, that will decide whether the Heat have to punt on 2021 cap space or punt on those players. For example, if retaining Crowder becomes an issue, there are viable Plan Bs out there. One, for example, could be Paul Millsap, if the 35-year-old veteran gets squeezed out by the Nuggets going all-in with Jerami Grant’s free agency and the preference to develop Michal Porter Jr.
Storyline: Jae Crowder Free Agency
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