Arturas Karnisovas knew questions about Jim Boylen’s future were coming.
So the Bulls’ new executive vice president of basketball operations tackled them in his opening statement during a Saturday conference call with reporters.
“We want to spend time internally to assure that we are thorough in our appraisals. Our intention was to return to play at some point and have the opportunity to make informed decisions. There are several unprecedented circumstances beyond our control. We have been limited in certain obvious ways. So our objective is to use this time in innovative ways to create opportunities for our players and coaches to encourage development,” Karnisovas said. “I know that you are anxious for me to comment definitively on our future of the Chicago Bulls. I understand that anticipation. That said, I take pride in being deliberate and thoughtful in my decision-making and take the weight of my decisions seriously. I’m not inclined to make evaluations prematurely to satisfy our excitement to move this team forward. I deeply respect and value the role of media, and I look forward to getting to know you all, as I believe we share a passion to see success of Chicago sports franchises.”
Translated: Prepare to wait.
An unprecedented offseason only adds another layer to Karnisovas’ decision on Boylen and Boylen’s staff, especially given Karnisovas’ reputation as one who believes in building genuine relationships.
“Coaching in the league is very difficult. To make a decision about coaching is really hard. It’s probably the hardest thing for executives,” Karnisovas said. “So I look at a lot of aspects. I’ve had numerous conversations. That said, I’d like to be in a building, to be in practices, to be around the coaching staff in meetings. We’re looking forward to getting in the video room together, analyze the games, to watch games together.
“Talking to players and coaches, obviously everyone is disappointed with the results last year. They (the Bulls) definitely underperformed. Watching games, I’m excited to watch because there’s a lot of talent on this team. In order for me to keep players and coaches accountable, I have to have personal relationships with them. That’s what I need to cultivate. That’s my objective this offseason.”
And indeed, it will be a long offseason. There is not yet a definitive start date for the 2020-21 season, though it will almost certainly be in December. That gives time for Karnisovas, who said he’s “on the way” to Chicago soon, to form relationships.
After hiring general manager Marc Eversley, vice president of player personnel Pat Connelly and assistant general manager J.J. Polk, Karnisovas said he plans no further additions or changes to the front-office staff. That means holdovers like associate general manager Brian Hagen, assistant general manager Steve Weinman and director of pro personnel Jim Paxson are safe for now.
“I really take pride in my relationships that I cultivate with coaching staffs and my basketball operations staffs. I haven’t seen them. I’m looking forward to it,” Karnisovas said. “I think after we found out that we were left out of the bubble in Orlando, we’ll have all the time in the world to (get to know everyone). So I’m looking forward to that.
“As much as we talk on the phone, they don't know me. So that is my number one priority when I get in the city, when I get in the building, is to get to know our coaching staff, meet the players and start the process of getting to know each other. And again, before the accountability, I have to know them before we keep each other accountable. So I will cultivate a selfless attitude with the players and there's not going to be any excuses. The youth, the injuries, all that stuff is not going to be an excuse moving forward, because this group is too talented not to perform better.”