Artūras Karnišovas used to work in the league office.
Perhaps that’s why the Bulls’ executive vice president never lost confidence that the NBA would negotiate with the players association for some sort of formal offseason activities for the eight teams not part of the Orlando restart.
And he was right. Tuesday night, the league and players association announced an agreement on a program that will allow each of the "Delete 8" teams to conduct voluntary group workouts in their respective markets.
Which Bulls will benefit the most from that plan? For such a young team, any group activities can be beneficial. But these three individuals stand out.
A Bulls coach
Will it be a new hire? If that timeline is too fast for Karnišovas and general manager Marc Eversley to nail the critical appointment, then assistant coach Chris Fleming will get another opportunity to make his mark.
During a conference call with reporters following his decision to fire coach Jim Boylen, Karnišovas didn't bite on a question about the status of the staff moving forward, and whether or not he'd ask whomever he hires to keep on some holdovers. In May, Karnišovas picked up the option of assistant coach Nate Loenser, who is well-liked by players and known for his player development skills.
Fleming just finished the first of a three-year deal and owns international head coaching experience. He also worked with Karnišovas in Denver. If a new coach isn't in place, these formal group activities would place Fleming at the forefront again.
If a new coach is in place, it will obviously give him or her the opportunity to begin getting to know the roster and implementing his or her philosophies. Even before his decision to fire Boylen, Karnišovas and Eversley had held meetings with the staff about tweaking the offense for next season.
The fact that both Karnišovas and Eversley publicly zeroed in on Markkanen’s regression speaks to his importance. Markkanen, who this October is eligible for an extension of his rookie-scale contract, understands this too. Instead of following his typical offseason routine of working out in Finland, he returned to Chicago for voluntary offseason workouts.
Markkanen stands to benefit most from tweaks to his offensive usage, which have been discussed between Boylen and his staff and the new regime. Physically, Markkanen hasn’t experienced any lingering discomfort from the pelvic issues that plagued him last season.
These activities offer Markkanen an opportunity to build confidence and make a positive impression on the new regime. When Karnišovas, upon his hiring, described his preferred offensive style, it sounded like Markkanen would fit.
“I like high pace, moving the ball,” Karnišovas said in April. “I like multi-positional players. I like guys with high basketball IQ that play off each other.”
The Bulls are undefeated when the rookie guard starts.
That’s a light-hearted way to address their 1-0 mark — a victory over the lowly Cavaliers, to boot — with White on the floor at tipoff. But the point is: Few players were as hot as White when COVID-19 paused the NBA.
In the 10 games following the All-Star break, White averaged 24.7 points and 4.3 assists in close to 34 minutes per game, shooting 40.7 percent from beyond the arc.
White plays with confidence even when his shot isn’t falling. But these activities can further develop the growth he had shown at the defensive end and in his offensive decision-making. He certainly looks like a player poised to become a full-time starter.