Storyline: Bulls Front Office

156 rumors in this storyline

Arturas Karnisovas favorite to lead Bulls front office

Front office stability has been a gift and curse for the Chicago Bulls, a marquee franchise that’s finally beginning to act like it. Team President and COO Michael Reinsdorf, son of managing partner Jerry Reinsdorf, has taken more of a leading role in the last couple of seasons and is spearheading the search to hire a new top basketball executive. Multiple sources tell Yahoo Sports Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas is the leader in the clubhouse. Karnisovas has a strong draft record and is known to be good in player development, two of the bullet points the Bulls have earmarked for their next top basketball executive.

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The coincidence in the Bulls’ search for a new head of basketball operations isn’t as much that Zanik interviewed Monday and is considered a finalist for the job. It’s that Josh Paxson and Kevin O’Connor enjoy a respectful professional relationship, and the family ownership structures and philosophies of the Jazz and Bulls are similar. The Reinsdorfs, like the leaguewide perception of Jazz ownership, are known for running the business side and letting basketball operations do their jobs.

John Paxson isn’t just trying to play good soldier and say the right thing. The Bulls vice president of basketball operations isn’t wired that way. The Sun-Times was told by a source on Tuesday that not only is Paxson all for stepping aside from his position and acting more as an adviser to the Reinsdorf family when the front-office restructure is finalized, but would even completely step down from the organization if the Reinsdorfs and the new-look executive group deemed it better for the rebuild to continue.

With longtime tandem John Paxson and Gar Forman expected to be reassigned from their respective roles as executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager, the Bulls, led by president and COO Michael Reinsdorf, have zeroed in on four preliminary executives across the league. Sources tell The Athletic they are Toronto GM Bobby Webster, Denver GM Arturas Karnisovas, Indiana GM Chad Buchanan and Miami vice president of player personnel and assistant general manager Adam Simon.

More could be added to the mix, but the Bulls, sources say, will not pursue Toronto president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri or longtime Oklahoma City exec Sam Presti, marquee names some fans hoped the team’s frustrated ownership would present with a blank check. The team also will not look to high-powered player agents, an increasingly trendy approach and one that rules out Chicago-based Priority Sports founder Mark Bartelstein as a possible candidate.

But it was behind the scenes that Forman started to misplay his hand. He quickly gained the reputation as a guy that was paranoid, turning his focus to keeping his job rather than doing his job. That meant inserting “spies’’ throughout the entire organization, as the Sun-Times documented back in 2017 with then assistant GM/coach Randy Brown being identified as one of many. Brown denied the allegation to the paper, but former Bull Rip Hamilton came out days later and confirmed the suspicions around Brown.

But it was behind the scenes that Forman started to misplay his hand. He quickly gained the reputation as a guy that was paranoid, turning his focus to keeping his job rather than doing his job. That meant inserting “spies’’ throughout the entire organization, as the Sun-Times documented back in 2017 with then assistant GM/coach Randy Brown being identified as one of many. Brown denied the allegation to the paper, but former Bull Rip Hamilton came out days later and confirmed the suspicions around Brown.

And it also should be noted that the Bulls historically have not operated as a big-spending franchise when it comes to management. It would take upwards of $9 to $10 million to even get Presti to the negotiating table. The sniffing around I’ve done on this story leads me to believe that that’s not a route the Bulls plan to take. Things can change, and this process is a fluid one. But my educated guess is the Bulls will hire multiple people for a restructured front office and spend their money that way.

Buchanan is widely known for his embrace of analytics. If the Bulls ask for and receive permission to interview Buchanan, his longstanding working relationship with Pritchard would seemingly indicate an ability to mesh with Bulls executive vice president John Paxson. As previously reported, ownership still values Paxson’s leadership and vision for the direction of the franchise. Paxson long has publicly stated he’s willing to accept any role the franchise thinks is best for the Bulls.

Here’s a list of some potential problem-solvers for the Bulls to look at: • Mark Bartelstein: The former investment banker turned super agent founded Chicago-based Priority Sports and Entertainment, which represents 24 NBA first-round picks. Bartelstein has represented stars such as Bradley Beal, Gordon Hayward and Kyle Lowry. And with franchises such as the Lakers, Warriors and now the Knicks going the way of adding an agent to their front office, Bartelstein makes sense.

Gar Forman on the hot seat?

Jerry Reinsdorf might be waking up — and not in the best of moods. According to several sources, the Bulls chairman is livid about the team’s 6-12 start this season and the continued sinking profile of the organization and is beginning to focus on general manager Gar Forman. The sources indicated this is not a recent change of heart for Reinsdorf, and that his unhappiness has been building after several questionable decisions.

John Paxson believes there is a path out of the basement, and even beyond mediocrity for this roster. The Bulls vice president of basketball operations made that crystal clear last week in his end-of-the-season address with the media at the Advocate Center. And while the line of skeptics is a long one, this is a front office that often tunes out doubt and criticism better than most organizations around the league. So when Paxson was asked just how this roster would be capable of that – especially void of a true superstar – that front office optimism was again on full display.

“The first part of that is through the draft and to get relevant again,’’ Paxson said, in explaining how the Bulls plan to build an elite roster. “I’m not ruling out Zach LaVine or Lauri Markkanen being significant players in this league. Zach just turned 24 and I thought Zach had a really good year, a really good year. He grew in a lot of ways where I think he’s going to get better. Lauri’s just still a young guy. As I’ve mentioned many times, the internal growth of our guys is a key part of that.’’

If that doesn’t happen, however, Paxson still sees a path. “I do believe when we establish winning again, that this city is a draw, that this organization is a draw,’’ Paxson said. “But that’s down the road. That’s why we made the deal at the trade deadline for Otto [Porter]. We felt that was a significant piece to becoming a much better basketball team. Over that stretch where we had him and we healthy, we were playing at a level that I could see us playing at in the future. So we’re trying to build toward what you’re talking about.’’

Michael Reinsdorf: I would say it does go back into basketball operations. We’re always spending money to improve what we do from the basketball side. It’s why we made the decision to build the Advocate Center across the street from the United Center. That was over a $30 million construction. It’s why we have full-time physical therapists on the staff, why we’ve added additional trainers, why we add full-time nutritionists. We added a sports performance coach. We added Doug Collins. It’s why we’ve added to our analytics department the last couple years.


When did you first learn of the trade to Washington and what was your initial reaction? Bobby Portis: “It’s been a crazy two weeks. On Sunday [before the trade deadline], I was seeing rumors and stuff on Twitter and Instagram so I called my agent. I asked him, “Am I in trade talks?” My agent immediately called Gar Forman, who is the GM of the Bulls. Gar Forman said, “No, it would have to be a blockbuster trade. If we were getting [a superstar like] LeBron James or Kevin Durant, then yeah, we’d trade Bobby. But [otherwise], no, we’re not trading Bobby.” So Tuesday comes around and I’m at a G-League game when my agent called me. He said he got a call from Gar and [Bulls VP of Basketball Operations] John Paxson and they were asking questions like, “Does Bobby really want to be here? Does Bobby love being a Bull? Is he fine with his role?” I’ve been having a good year and I guess they were trying to see if I still wanted to be in Chicago. And, obviously, my answer was yes. Who doesn’t want to play for the great city of Chicago? Who doesn’t want to play at United Center and be a Bull?”

Bobby Portis: “On Wednesday, [I’m thinking], “I know for sure that I’m going to be a Bull after the deadline.” We had a game that night, so I went through my pregame routine, got taped, put my jersey on and sat in the locker room. Twenty-three minutes before the game started, one of the coaches told me that our head coach, Jim Boylen, wanted to talk with me. I walked into his office and I see Gar, Pax and Coach Boylen. They told me that they had agreed in principle to trade me. I asked, “Where am I going?” Then, they were hesitant to say. They finally said the Wizards. My heart dropped. My stomach dropped. I didn’t know what to think. I went back to the locker room and I was just hugging everybody, shaking everyone’s hand. Everybody was in shock because nobody knew I was going to be traded. That wasn’t even a thought anyone had considered because they loved me there. It was a crazy feeling. Then, my phone started going haywire, so I guess that’s when the news dropped and everybody found out.”

I saw some of your tweets after the deal and I could tell you were upset with how this played out. Did the fact that the front office said you wouldn’t be dealt make it hurt more? Bobby Portis: “Yeah, it really hurts. They told me how much they valued me – that I was part of our core and that I was in the long-term plans. They told me how much they loved my energy, my heart, how hard I worked, how much I loved playing for the Bulls. Them telling me that I’m going to be there [through the deadline] and telling me that they want to work things out this summer [in restricted free agency]. We weren’t able to agree to a contract extension [before the Oct. 15 deadline], but they said they wanted to agree to something this summer before free agency hits. I think back on everything they told me. All this stuff was said and then I don’t even get notified when I’m getting traded? (pause) It’s just a crazy feeling. I guess I’m getting my first taste of the business. Business is business, I guess. I just don’t think it was done the right way.”

Payne never made excuses for his erratic play. But he felt the fans’ love for Gibson, coupled with their subsequent disappointment in watching him be traded away, played a sizable role in how he was perceived from the start. “It was huge just because that was their guys,” Payne said of Gibson and McDermott. “Those were the fans’ guys. The fact that I come in and nobody knows me because I haven’t really played. And the way Gar and them portrayed me to be just the next greatest thing — you know. I mean, I’m a young guy. I haven’t played that many games. I’ve got to play to get comfortable also. So I feel like that’s all it was. And I came in on a playoff team. So it was also tough there. It’s just a tough situation.”

“We were all on board with (signing Parker),” said Paxson. “That’s all in the past. We’re not even going to worry about that. With the situation the way it is, we’ll look and see if Jabari gets an opportunity. This thing will be fluid. We have a month until the trade deadline. A lot can happen. We feel really good about getting something done a month early. It’s all in building a team. Given where we were at and where we are at today, trying to roll the dice on a young talent (like Parker) is not a bad thing. A lot of teams have had success doing that. The one thing that we continue to do and we think we’re on the right track with is if something doesn’t work, it’s not going to be a long-term issue for us. We’ll continue to operate that way.”

“You make decisions and hope for the best,” Paxson said about releasing Cameron Payne. “The reality is both Arch (Ryan Arcidiacono) and Shaq (Harrison) have outplayed him. They fit what we want to do. Cam had some struggles with his foot and trying to get him back. “What it does is it gives Chandler an opportunity to play. He’ll play some significant minutes I would think,” said Paxson. “He has to live up to the standards that Jim wants and we want. But he’ll get opportunity. We still have some decisions to make with our roster. But our young guys will play. We’re going to be starting a really young team. Looking long term and big picture, this is about the future. We think a year and a half into the big move we made (trading Jimmy Butler), we have to focus on that. It’s hard to lose. You walk into the locker room and guys are competing, coaches are preparing, so that’s hard. But from my seat, Gar’s (Forman) seat, ownership’s seat, we have to keep the big picture in mind. And that’s what we’re doing.

The Bulls have been burned this season, but it is part of the plan. “We’re throwing them into the fire. We knew we were going to get younger,” Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson told reporters before Friday’s game with Indiana. “We knew there would be struggles. We need to see what our young guys can do. Hopefully they’ll respond in a competitive way. I keep telling Jim (Boylen, coach), ‘This league is always about wins and losses, we always want to win. But right now we have to focus on other things.’ We’ve said that all year long.”

It’s truly the first step forward after several steps back to try to get the franchise going in the right direction again. “We need to see growth,” Paxson said about the young core. “We need to see how they play. We’re a month into Jim’s tenure now and I think they understand what’s expected. So we’re going to go out on the road here after these next two games (five starting in Portland Wednesday). That’s a good time for a young team to get together. They’re going to be hard games. We just need to see development. That’s going to be a big key.”
1 year ago via ESPN

In the second meeting on Sunday, the idea of forming a leadership committee was discussed, multiple sources told ESPN. The idea is that in the future, those appointed to the committee would be able to act as a liaison between the players and coaches. It has been made clear that Boylen has been empowered and encouraged by Bulls management to use a firm hand in changing the Bulls’ culture. The way Boylen handled Sunday’s meetings has reinforced management’s belief in the new coach, sources said. They are fully on-board with Boylen’s tough-love leadership style.

“My job is to try to push our guys to a place they can’t take themselves,” Boylen said. “That’s pushing them outside their comfort zone. That’s what the Reinsdorfs are paying me for.” The fact Boylen cited ownership is telling. Phil Jackson praised Boylen to Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf after Boylen met with the Hall of Fame coach last summer. And according to team and league sources, executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman raved to ownership about Boylen’s message during Sunday’s meeting, which Paxson and Forman attended.

Why does ownership have such long-term faith in management’s ability to rebuild this roster to open another championship window? Michael Reinsdorf: I have a lot of confidence in John Paxson and Gar Forman. I think they’ve done a great job. We made the decision to rebuild. And they secured the best possible deal. I was really happy with that trade. We took the 30th pick in Jimmy Butler and turned it into Zach, Kris and Lauri. That is pretty impressive. I think if you look at their history of our drafts over the years and you compare to other teams in the league, we’re near the top. At the same time, clearly you’re going to have failures when you’re picking players in the draft. Not everyone works out. Jerry West was one of the greatest general managers of all time. If you look at his draft record, you’ll see some players he probably regrets having drafted. You have to be foolish if you didn’t look at some of the really good picks that we’ve had. Jimmy Butler was a really good pick. We drafted Taj Gibson at 26. Bobby Portis was 22nd and look at who was drafted after him. You’re going to make some mistakes. But you also have to recognize the successes.

But clearly you’re aware that there’s a vocal segment of the fan base that has strong enmity towards management. The Fire GarPax billboard would be one example. Does that concern you? Michael Reinsford: You have to tune it out. I recognize our fans are passionate. They want the same thing we want — to win. Fans don’t always have all the information we have. Sometimes, you have to have a long-term perspective. When we made the trade for Jimmy Butler, there were a lot of people who didn’t like that trade. If you watched different commentators, it was not well received. I think now, if you go back and look at that trade today, most people would say that was a great trade for the Bulls. Depending on how Zach, Kris and Lauri develop, that could go from being a good trade to being an incredible trade. Time will tell.

Armstrong represents Derrick Rose, Denzel Valentine, Draymond Green and Suns promising rookie Josh Jackson, among many others. He negotiated Rose’s monster, $185 million lifetime deal with Adidas. And ne now gets to do a different kind of business with Reinsdorf and Paxson, his former backcourt competitor on the Bulls’ first three-peat team. “It hasn’t been awkward at all. Actually, it’s been quite pleasant,” Armstrong said of negotiating with the Bulls. “I consider Jerry (Reinsdorf) a mentor. And I consider John a friend. I’ve known John for almost 30 years.”

Pressing the reset button on a franchise can be just as tricky as dealing with a faulty vending machine. Sometimes, the items get stuck in the dispenser, the machine doesn’t respond or the wrong button gets pressed and an unwanted item lands in the bin. When the Bulls decided last summer that it was time to move Jimmy Butler and begin their rebuild in earnest by acquiring LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn in a draft-night deal, they understood the risks and accepted a pending struggle. But they didn’t want to be down for long and bank on a string of lottery picks to elevate them back to relevance. They wanted to stockpile some talent to make the losing more tolerable and the rebuild more manageable — but they might’ve stumbled upon a core. “I think the thing for us now is, we’re not starting from rock bottom,” Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. “We’ve got these three young talents and you can throw Bobby Portis in, he fits the direction that we’re headed in. We feel we’re headed in the right direction. But we don’t want to oversell anything. We know to win at the highest level in this league you need the great players, and, hopefully, we’ve got one or two of them, somewhere on our roster, that we can grow with and hopefully make the decisions going forward to add to that.”
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April 8, 2020 | 11:18 am EDT Update
The National Basketball Players Association stressed during Tuesday’s conference call with NBA agents that no decision has been made about resuming the season, a league source confirmed. The agents were also informed that there hasn’t been a consensus on a cutoff date to make a decision. However, the NBPA did reiterate how owners could withhold 25% of players’ remaining salary if the season is canceled. Predraft guidelines along with the uncertainties with this season’s revenue sharing and next season’s salary cap were among other topics.
Storyline: Coronavirus
The agents were told the NBA has yet to do an audit for this season due to the uncertainty involving the remainder of the campaign. As a result, the dollar amount of players’ portion from the league’s revenue sharing has yet to be determined, agents were told. Agents were also informed that next season’s salary cap won’t be determined until after the audit.
Karl-Anthony Towns is in the throes of the crisis with his mother, who has been hospitalized and on a ventilator since being diagnosed with COVID-19 weeks ago. The bond between Saunders and Towns was forged years ago, and it has never been more important. “I’ll just say that his strength and the strength that he’s shown for his teammates and just for him being able to share is not just admirable, but it’s something that he should be commended for, the way he was able to bring attention … to safe practices and social distancing and doing the right things right now and being ultimately part of a solution,” Saunders said.
Storyline: Coronavirus
Yet despite all these credentials and then some, Toni Kukoc has yet to be named a Hall of Famer. This year was the third in a row that the Croatian great wasn’t inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame after being among the nominees. “Honestly, it means a lot more to me that I played alongside Michael Jordan and won NBA titles,” Kukoc said in an interview with Croatian website tportal. “I have no influence in my induction into the Hall of Fame. People are asked to decide and I’d really like to know who these people are. It’s allegedly unknown who they are because they haven’t been presented publicly. I really don’t know whether or not I’ll ever enter the Hall of Fame. Would I like it? Of course, I would! Well, another year has passed but nothing happened.”
The former three-time champion with the Chicago Bulls said that he prefers to shift his attention to a passion that shares with former teammate Michael Jordan: Golfing. “After all, what am I going to say about myself? But if my former coaches, former teammates, and basketball experts say I am one of the top 3-4 European players of all time, what are we talking about? Maybe they all don’t know what they’re talking about? It doesn’t make sense to talk about that any more… You know, I would rather spend that energy playing an 18-hole golf course.”
Josh Okogie almost missed the text. It was 10 days after the NBA season was suspended, and the Minnesota Timberwolves wing was sleeping in. But he woke up to a message that the team had organized a conference call with world-renowned motivational speaker Eric Thomas — also known as “ET The Hip-Hop Preacher.” “I wasn’t even going to join it but when I saw it was ET, I had to hear him. I joined the call and he was talking about how the ball is still bouncing,” Okogie said. “He was talking about how the season is suspended and the physical ball isn’t still bouncing, but just because the ball stops bouncing on the court, it doesn’t mean the ball stops bouncing in life. “And all the coaches were like, ‘Wow.’ Even I was like, ‘Wow.'”
“ET is just a ball of light,” Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond told ESPN earlier this season. “His energy, his inspiration, the way he views life and the way he can inspire so many people just by his words is huge. Sometimes I listen to his stuff whenever I’m feeling off or I need a certain message. He has messages for all different types of things.” Thomas has shared his messages directly with NBA veterans such as Drummond, Paul and Kyrie Irving. He has connected with rookies, including Zion Williamson, as part of the NBA’s annual rookie symposium. Players point to his rise from his humble beginnings and his raw, powerful delivery of his messages as sources of inspiration.
A communication from the league office was sent to all teams during the week of the NBA suspension about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic might have on mental and emotional well-being. The memo included customized documents with tips, resources and information from mental health and wellness partners, providers and consultants, to help players, team staff and their families maintain mental wellness. That’s why the Timberwolves took on the initiative to collaborate with Thomas. “We pride ourselves in being player-centric, and as we face this incredibly difficult time, we are looking for ways to thoroughly support our players,” Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas told ESPN. “Eric Thomas has a powerful voice with a strong message and we believe his perspective will encourage our players to stay connected and to motivate them to get through the current challenges we are all facing.”
Since the news of the NBA’s hiatus nearly four weeks ago, the Sixers’ staff has been committed to helping the team’s players through all facets of this crisis. “From Day 1, we were ready to take care of our players,” said Lorena Torres, the team’s Performance Director, who was creating individualized workout plans the night the NBA announced its suspension. “We were prepared … and we are a team that believes in individualization, covering individualized needs,” Torres said. “But it’s more than just physical plans, it’s also about the mental and nutritional side of it.”
Torres worked closely with JaeHee Cho, the Sixers’ Executive Chef. “It was actually really incredible to see all the different talented people, and people at the top of their field, all working for the Sixers,” Cho said, “and all of a sudden the goal wasn’t how do we win basketball games anymore, it was how do we keep everyone healthy and fed properly during a pandemic? What does that actually mean? “It was an incredible amount of information being exchanged, and from a professional development point of view, it was pretty cool to see how fast we could mobilize actions and get things done.”
April 8, 2020 | 7:24 am EDT Update

KAT's mother remains in hospital

Two weeks ago, former Kentucky star Karl-Anthony Towns announced his mother, Jacqueline Cruz, was not only diagnosed with COVID-19, but had since been placed in a medically induced coma. In our first public update since that announcement, UK head coach John Calipari told fans “Ms. Jackie” was still fighting for her life in the hospital.
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There was no word of an update on how Towns’ mom, Jacqueline Cruz, had been doing since then until Monday, when John Calipari, Towns’ college coach at Kentucky, said she is still in the hospital. Calipari held a Facebook Live chat and said he has been getting updates from Towns’ father, Karl Sr., on Cruz’s condition in a New Jersey hospital. “She’s fighting. She’s there …” Calipari said. “Keep praying for her. Send her unbelievably positive thoughts, and I just can’t wait until she gets out of that hospital.”
“Ms. Jackie, Karl-Anthony Towns’ mother, is still in that hospital fighting. She’s there,” Calipari said in a Facebook Live video stream Monday evening. “We get updates, every single day we get an update from Karl Sr. about how she’s doing from the nurses at the ICU.” Most importantly, Calipari asked fans to continue to pray for her and send positive thoughts her way during this difficult time. “Keep praying for her, send her unbelievably positive thoughts,” the Kentucky head coach said. “I can’t wait until she gets out of that hospital. It’s been a tough road.”
The Mavericks are set to Dirk Nowitzki’s jersey at the start of next season. During the ceremony, taking place during the team’s second game, the hope was to also unveil the model a Nowitzki statue—no doubt in his signature one-legged jumper pose—that will eventually stand outside the American Airlines Center. Now, that might not happen. “You know, this obviously slowed it down,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told me in a recent interview. “The hope was to have a model ready to show the second game of this coming season when we retire his jersey. We’ll have to see how everything plays out.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
The longest-tenured Knick will enter the final year of his rookie contract, making a hefty $6.2 million in 2020-21. Knicks fans either love or hate their 2017 lottery pick it seems. “Knicks fans, they love the team,’’ Ntilikina said. “They really want the team to be successful. They really have that drive with basketball. Also that’s what makes it really special to be able to play at the Garden.’’
The writings were on the wall and FIBA Europe confirmed today the obvious. No basketball tournaments will be held this summer and the fate of Eurobasket 2021 will be decided on Thursday. Per the press release: The FIBA Europe Board convened on Tuesday to discuss and take decisions about upcoming events. The meeting, which took place via video conference, was chaired by FIBA Europe President Turgay Demirel, with FIBA President Hamane Niang, FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis and FIBA Executive Director Europe Kamil Novak also in attendance.
Fisher, 45, a retired pro after 18 years in the NBA, former New York Knicks head coach and currently head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks, reflected on his time with the one-time MVP and 18-time All-Star Bryant, via ESPN’s First Take. “It’s been up and down. There [have] been days and moments where I feel inspired and motivated and energetic to keep moving on, keep working on … to be great.”
Fisher also referenced Bryant’s commitment to women’s athletics and women’s basketball as the departed Lakers legend remained steadfast in providing an opportunity for 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who also perished along with seven others in the Calabasas, California, helicopter crash in late January. “There are other days where it is a struggle … obviously they have been showing old games of ours, every time you look up there’s something Kobe-related that sometimes makes it tough to accept the fact that he’s not here, makes me feel like I can hit him up when I see him … “I know he would want us all to keep pushing on and channel our inner toughness and keep being who we are, try to be the best version of ourselves.”
April 7, 2020 | 9:30 pm EDT Update
The repayments will hit hardest for players who receive their paychecks on a six-month cycle, who receive more money per pay cycle but don’t get checks during the off-season. (Agents usually prefer 12-month payment plans to protect players from over-spending, and to keep them from struggling once the season ends and paychecks stop rolling in.) It will also hit hard for some players who received advance payments on their contracts. Teams often use advances to lure free agent players to sign deals sooner, at times offering full or partial payment of contracts upfront.
April 7, 2020 | 8:31 pm EDT Update

Arturas Karnisovas favorite to lead Bulls front office

Front office stability has been a gift and curse for the Chicago Bulls, a marquee franchise that’s finally beginning to act like it. Team President and COO Michael Reinsdorf, son of managing partner Jerry Reinsdorf, has taken more of a leading role in the last couple of seasons and is spearheading the search to hire a new top basketball executive. Multiple sources tell Yahoo Sports Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas is the leader in the clubhouse. Karnisovas has a strong draft record and is known to be good in player development, two of the bullet points the Bulls have earmarked for their next top basketball executive.
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Paxson has been involved in the implementation of the search and restructuring of the organization. He’s a favorite of Jerry Reinsdorf, having been a player on championship teams, a broadcaster and now, as executive vice-president. Sources say he’ll be as involved or uninvolved as the new head of basketball operations wants him to be, and it hasn’t been a deterrent in the search, given the awkward nature on its face.
The team now comes together every Friday virtually through Zoom. It’s the new reality NBA teams face with the season suspended, but coach Taylor Jenkins has made sure the meetings are less formal and more fun. “We do some trivia games, try to keep it lighthearted and see as many smiles and some playful banter back and forth as if guys were in the locker room,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins was hopeful the season would resume but also placed basketball in a bigger context “This is a global pandemic, and we realize that basketball pales in comparison to what’s happening in just life in general,” Jenkins said. “We do realize that basketball is a big portion of people’s daily lives and happiness and outlets, just like sports in general. But we all do realize that doesn’t come without making sure there’s a safe world that we’re living in.”
April 7, 2020 | 7:31 pm EDT Update

Joe Harris hoping to remain a Net for life

Harris not only loves basketball, but being in Brooklyn. In February, the pending unrestricted free agent said he hopes to re-sign with the Nets this summer, and Monday he told YES Network’s Ian Eagle he would love to remain a Net for life. “In [an] ideal world, I’d play my whole career in Brooklyn,” Harris said. “I came in with [GM] Sean [Marks] even the ownership. It’s just one of those things where you have a close connection with a lot of people that are within the organization. You kind of all came in together.
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With the coronavirus pandemic gripping much of society and four Nets having tested positive for COVID-19, Joe Harris reassured fans he is healthy — albeit stuck in quarantine and having to find creative ways to do what he’s best known for: shoot the rock. “Yeah, everybody is good health-wise thankfully,” Harris said Monday in an Instagram Live session on the NBA account. “Obviously crazy times for everybody, but definitely fortunate on my side of things that everything is going well.”
“I have some basketballs around, I have enough space in my apartment where I can tinker around with some different basketball training apps like HomeCourt, do some different dribbling drills,” Harris said. “Then just little form shooting, if you’re sitting on the couch just watching Netflix hanging out I can just sit there shooting like you would back in the day when you were a kid, just laying there thinking about different scenarios, shooting the ball in your hands.”
Garnett said he will not call for his induction to be a ’08 Celtics reunion, but everybody is invited. “That’s not important,” he said Monday. “I wouldn’t dare ask those guys to do that. I’m not a guy to do that. If someone wants to do something on their own, fine. That ’08 team, I have connections with everybody on that team. We will forever be brothers. Nothing more, nothing less.”
“I’ve been very vocal on my distaste for what Ray did, that was real for everybody that was involved,” Garnett said. “That’s real life. We was in real beef with Miami at the time and very similar to if someone was to go from the Lakers to the Celtics and vice versa. No one will speak on the underlyings of it, but that was a real thing. Miami and Boston. That was a real thing. Yeah, Ray made a decision; I wouldn’t expect Ray to be at anything of mine. And vice versa. If I see him, I’ll speak. I’ll say hello to his family like always and keep it pushing. He knows that decision altered and made us all feel different.”
April 7, 2020 | 5:28 pm EDT Update
The Lakers plan to ask top-level executives to voluntarily defer 20% of their pay as the team navigates its finances during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to people familiar with the situation. The requests have not been made, but will be done in hopes of avoiding cuts that impact lower level staff members. Once the deferments begin, they will last until the first regular season game of the 2020-21 season or mid-December, whichever comes sooner.
Storyline: Salary Reductions
“I feel like they need our help right now,” Bogdanovic told The Athletic. “It doesn’t matter where you donate, where you’re trying to help, I feel like the whole world needs some kind help. So it’s good to be there (to help), especially in this tough time. I’m just following the example of others I saw and I hope I will be an example for someone else.” According to the U.S. Embassy in Serbia, there are 2,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 58 deaths as of Monday. Commercial flights in and out of Serbia have been suspended indefinitely.
Storyline: Coronavirus
Bogdanovic plans to continue to monitor the happenings around the world and how he might be able to help. He also believes players can begin to look at their lives from a bigger perspective and what they might want to pursue after basketball. “I feel like everyone should see what is going on and what it might be like when you’re retired,” Bogdanovic said. “That’s what you can learn from this situation, and follow the rules that the government is giving us, the World Health Organization as well, for this pandemic to go away as quickly as it can.”
April 7, 2020 | 4:32 pm EDT Update