Arturas Karnisovas

Bulls pick up 2020-21 option on assistant coach Nate Loenser’s contract

Bulls pick up 2020-21 option on assistant coach Nate Loenser’s contract

The Bulls have picked up the option for the 2020-21 season on assistant coach Nate Loenser’s contract, sources told NBC Sports Chicago.

Loenser is well-liked and well-respected by players as varied as Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Spencer Dinwiddie, and has developed a strong reputation for player development.

Fred Hoiberg hired Loenser as video coordinator in 2015-16 and Loenser then served as head coach of the G League Windy City Bulls — where he coached Dinwiddie — in 2016-17. Dinwiddie consistently raved about Loenser.

Hoiberg then moved Loenser to a behind-the-bench assistant coaching role for the Bulls in 2017-18. Jim Boylen moved Loenser to his current role as an on-bench assistant coach when he replaced Hoiberg in December 2018.

With Boylen under contract for two more seasons, multiple outlets, including NBC Sports Chicago, have reported that Karnisovas is using the NBA hiatus to evaluate Boylen and the coaching staff. Loenser is the only coach with a contract option that required an immediate decision. Director of player development Shawn Respert, who sought a larger role with the team, is moving on.

During the interview process to hire Karnisovas as executive vice president, Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf made clear that Karnisovas will have final say on all basketball-related decisions. Reinsdorf also explained why they hired and extended Boylen, and asked Karnisovas to get to know Boylen before making a decision on his future. 

Given Karnisovas’ reputation around the league as a thoughtful, substantive decision-maker, those who know him and new general manager Marc Eversley well believe they would have taken the route of fully acquainting themselves with Boylen before making a final decision, regardless. 

Karnisovas has a comfort level with two assistant coaches on Boylen’s staff. He worked with Chris Fleming in Denver and knows Dean Cooper from Houston, though their stints there didn't cross.

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Bulls’ Coby White, Ryan Arcidiacono high on new general manager Marc Eversley

Bulls’ Coby White, Ryan Arcidiacono high on new general manager Marc Eversley

The Bulls punctuated their recent front office overhaul with two fresh hires at the top: Arturas Karnisovas as executive vice president of basketball operations and, in turn, Marc Eversley as general manager.

Excitement is palpable for the team’s changing of the guard. Zach LaVine recently told HoopsHype he’s “extremely excited” to work with both Karnisovas and Eversley. In a recent interview with Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson sponsored by Zenni, Coby White and Ryan Arcidiacono were effusive describing their first impressions of Eversley, who’s been in touch with the team over Zoom and text message.

“He texted me not too long ago, about a couple weeks ago, just introduced himself and I introduced myself to him, and I got a great vibe from him,” White said. “He said he just can’t wait to get work once this is all over… That’s how I move, I’m the same way. I just can’t wait to get back to Chicago and get to work and continue the grind and continue to get better.”

“I know he was with Nike and the Raptors – what Arturas told us – and then the Sixers most recently, so (I) know he’s been in the Philly area,” Arcidiacono, a Villanova grad and Philadelphia native, added. “Seems like a great dude. We met him on a Zoom call. That’s kinda what you can do right now besides a text, you can have a quick Zoom call with the whole team. 

“I know he’s definitely hungry to get back to work like Coby said, as I’m sure we all are. Ready to get back and try to turn things around and get some W’s that’s for sure.”

The Last Dance Interview

Posted by Zenni Optical on Sunday, May 17, 2020

By all accounts, Eversley and Karnisovas have been making the best of their time isolated as they work to get acclimated in their new jobs. On the Bulls-sponsored “Inside the Dance” program, which preceded the finale of “The Last Dance” on May 17, Karnisovas and Eversley detailed how they’ve approached the predraft process — even without being able to be in the same room.

“It’s a great opportunity to get with your staff and talk about players,” Eversley said on the show. “We’ve been able to get on the phone and talk with prospects, interview them, get to know them a little bit better. Obviously, you’d love to be in person with them in the same room and look at things like body language, those types of things. But it’s a great opportunity for us to sit with our staff and talk about players. Strengths, weaknesses, things they need to work on. 

“Any time you can have an interaction with a player, whether it’s in person or over a Zoom phone call, it’s a touchpoint to where you can evaluate a prospect and see if you can envision them being a part of your organization moving forward.”

Those principles surely apply to every aspect of the new hires’ jobs, especially when evaluating the layers of the organization they are now tasked with leading.

“We’re discussing what’s been done in the past, what we can do better,” Karnisovas said of the tenor of his and his staff’s virtual conversations. “This situation is kind of getting us closer, because we probably have been talking more to each other.”

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Bulls decline option on head athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka’s contract

Bulls decline option on head athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka’s contract

Arturas Karnisovas has declined picking up the option on head athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka’s contract, the Bulls confirmed. Director of sports performance Chip Schaefer will remain in his role.

Upon his hiring, Karnisovas said he would evaluate all departments, including the medical and training staffs. Tanaka joined the Bulls as assistant trainer in 2008 and became the head trainer in 2014. He previously worked in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers.

Schaefer, who served as the athletic trainer during the Bulls’ dynasty, oversees the strength and training staffs in his role.

Karnisovas has now moved on from Tanaka and general manager Gar Forman since landing the executive vice president of basketball operations role. With Tanaka’s contract option date up, he had to make a decision on the trainer’s future.

With coach Jim Boylen under contract for two more seasons, multiple outlets, including NBC Sports Chicago, have reported that Karnisovas is waiting for a definitive NBA timeline while evaluating Boylen and the coaching staff.

The Chicago Sun-Times first reported the Tanaka news.

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