The day has finally come. John Paxson and Gar Forman, also known as GarPax, are no longer at the helm of the Chicago Bulls. It was announced last night that the team has reached a deal to bring Arturas Karnisovas on as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.
This marks a much needed, and long overdue, change for the franchise. After entering this season with playoff aspirations, the Bulls find themselves as the eleventh-seed in the Eastern Conference (22-43). Even if the season were to resume, Chicago is eighth games back of the eighth-seed, effectively shuttering any chances for the postseason.
The hiring of Karnisovas brings hope after seasons of darkness. Karnisovas oversaw the rebuild of the Denver Nuggets, the current third-seed in the Western Conference. During his tenure, he traded the draft rights of Doug McDermott to the Bulls for Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic, flipped Timofey Mozgov to the Cleveland Cavaliers for two (!) first-round picks, and drafted Nikola Jokic in the second-round. He also signed Paul Millsap to a three-year deal following four consecutive All-Star selections.
Karnisovas now has full reign of the franchise and will begin the search for a new general manager. He'll also be making a decision on head coach Jim Boylen's future but it's not expected that he'll be retained. Chicago's ownership will allow Karnisovas to make these hires himself which shows the franchise's willingness to turn things around.
Chicago's roster has young players with potential along with bonafide star Zach LaVine. It's unknown who Karnisovas plans to keep going forward but rumors point to nobody being safe. I think LaVine, Coby White, and Wendell Carter Jr. should stay put. I'm biased as a Bulls fan but these are guys who can make a true difference going forward. Chicago is projected to have a top-seven pick in this summer's draft and with Karnisovas' strong record on draft night, another young impact player will be added. I'm hoping that we can somehow get LaMelo Ball.
For the first time in a while, there's optimism for the Bulls. No matter what moves Karnisovas makes, there's trust that they'll be the right ones. A return to the playoffs may take a few seasons but with a roster of potentially great players and competency in the front office, it may not be long until Chicago is back in the national spotlight.