The Chicago Bulls finally tipped their hand. After months of speculation both in the fan base and the media about what direction Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley were going to take this team now that GarPax [Gar Forman – Bulls executive from 1998-2020] had finally been bullied out of the decision making chair.
And just like the coaching search that dropped the huge surprise news that former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan was coming on board. But if we look back at exactly how the coaching search played out for the Bulls this previous off-season I think it gave everyone plenty of hints at what to expect going forward.
After the pandemic finally settled and the Bulls realized they were done for the season, it didn’t take long for Karnisovas to decide to part ways with former coach Jim Boylen.
It’s how the hiring process transpired after that though that could have provided clues as to just how AK and Eversley were going to operate at the trade deadline. Operating in silence and surprising the NBA world with the talent they are able to acquire seems to be a talent for the new Bulls front office.
Once the removal of Boylen was finally complete, the Bulls started their coaching search behind closed doors. And before even a peep could leak out from behind those doors, Karnisovas managed to fly down to meet with Billy Donovan in person and convince the man who left OKC because he wanted to coach a contender that coming to Chicago with another young nucleus was the place for him.
The shock of the Donovan hire and the stealth with which the move was completed was when Bulls fans (myself included) bought in 100% on the new regime. But it also should have told the world this team was going to be looking to be contenders the first chance they had.
Moving in silence and managing to acquire talent above the quality threshold expected for the franchise is how AK approached the coaching hire and it’s exactly how the trade deadline came to pass. Never even a whisper about their interest in Nikola Vučević; Karnisovas had made sure they knew in Orlando to give him a call if they changed their mind and Vuc was back on the market.
So when it came time for the Magic to finally blow it up and start from scratch again, AK’s planted see has come to bloom in the form of a sweet shooting center who has already managed to make the all-star games twice. This gives the Bulls two all stars, and the pairing with Zach LaVine is sure to leave defenses scrambling.
Now come the real expectations. Chicago has made it clear they are no longer sitting at the rebuilding table and are clearly looking to contend sooner rather than later. After years of rebuilding once Derrick Rose went down in the playoffs, the Bulls are back.
The big market energy seems to be coming back around now that the talent is going to be there to showcase that market and if the Bulls can change the image of the franchise around the league it might finally be able to cash in on having the third biggest market in the country.
Even if they don’t though, it’s clear the Bulls fans can trust in this front office to run a tight, quiet ship that looks to contend rather than count on the lottery balls falling their way. The Bulls have wanted to get back to being a big market, big time team in the league once again.
For the first time in years with this new front office, they are starting to look the part.