Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls new EVP of Basketball Operations, discussed what style of play he enjoys, the upcoming NBA draft, and more during his introductory conference call with the media.
Restoring an NBA franchise is not a game. So forget this being NBA 2K20 for the Bulls. This is about AK, who by all accounts is more than OK.
"This is my dream," said Arturas Karnisovas, who was introduced Monday as the Bulls new Executive Vice-President of Basketball Operations replacing John Paxson. "Our ultimate goal is clearly to bring an NBA championship to the city of Chicago. That is what every team in the NBA strives for."
It's also what everybody says when they get a new NBA job. But for the native of Lithuania and two-time Olympic medalist who has been a prominent NBA executive with the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets for the past decade, it's what he's confident he will help deliver. And based on a track record of international excellence and NBA success, Karnisovas is prepared to put down his foot and kick start the franchise.
"I would now be on a plane, be in Chicago, and facing media and Pat Connelly (from Denver). My next step is to hire a GM. This process is going to be extensive and diverse. The talent pool is great and I will explore all the options. I believe I will hire the best person for the job. "From the past structures what I learned is that I've got to hire the person that is going to compliment," added Karnisovas. "Not have the same skillset that I do. I'm going to look for a person that is going to add something to the current structure."
The 48-year-old whose birthday is later this month also said he prefers a fast paced game with swift ball movement, will concentrate on player development and will analyze the basketball staff to make decisions over the next few months.
On player development:
"We are the second youngest team in the league, a great young core; the Bulls drafted well. Players want to play, but at the end of the day they want to win. My job is going to be to facilitate that. It was a huge thing for us in Denver and it's going to be huge here in Chicago. We're going to have to improve our players. There's three ways of building teams – through your draft, through free agency and through trades. I think building through the draft and developing your players is the key to getting better every year."
On style of play:
"I already had a conversation with Jim (Boylen, coach), kind of talking about what kind of style of play I would like, what kind of players I like. I like high pace, moving the ball. We were able to be a very good passing team in Denver. It's a very entertaining brand of basketball. I like multi-positional players. I like guys with high basketball IQ that play off each other. But that takes time. Obviously, you've got a read and react kind of offense, which I like. So in the short term what needs to happen is we begin to establish a culture of who we are as a team. And the expectations for winning. Defensively every team is trying to take shots at the rim and take away the three-point shooting. It sounds easy. But how do you execute? How do you establish that? Just looking at their play last year, obviously they won — now I would say we won — 22 games. I watch a lot of games. I will continue to evaluate. The rebounding and shooting were a couple of the issues. We'll take a deep dive with the staff and we'll figure out how we can help."
On departure of General Manager Gar Forman:
"Regarding Gar, I think after some consideration and conversation it was apparent we had different philosophies. That would prevent us from moving forward. I'm sure Gar gave his best to the Bulls organization, but those decisions are never easy. I was hired to affect change in the current situation, so that was the decision behind that. In terms of talking to Jim and the rest of the coaching staff, I already started this process. I'm going to do my comprehensive evaluation of every department and make sure I give it the right time because as we all know we're limited right now in what we can do. Instead of being in the practice facility and being in Chicago, we are at home and on an audio call. So it makes it difficult. For now we're going to be evaluating, communicating and see how I can help (the coaching staff). At the same time there's no timeline for hiring a GM. I'm going to take my time because it's a very important decision for me.''
On role of John Paxson:
"I think right from the start in this hiring process they were hiring a number one decision maker. John has a great reputation around the league and has been with the organization for a number of years and can be an asset of information. He's been gracious in welcoming me. I've appreciated his candor and his great love for the Bulls and the city of Chicago. So I see him now as an asset and could be a huge help while I'm making this transition.''
On Denver's successes:
"The proud fact is that we created a sustainable program that's going to be successful for a very long time. Very proud of the fact that for four years in a row we improved our winning percentage, going from 33 to 40 to 46 to 54 wins. Who knows what was going to happen this year? It's a difficult decision because I had a wonderful seven years in Denver. It was a hard decision to make, but I was real excited to open this new chapter for me.''
On the upcoming NBA Draft:
"We're going to keep our staff busy. We're going to evaluate players on video. We're going to discuss them. We're going to rank them. We're going to do all the things we can do expecting the draft is going to be on June 25 until the further announcement is going to be made. In our profession, everything's connected to a timeline. And now, not having that timeline, it's obvious everybody's in shock. You always have on the schedule the trade deadline, the end of the regular season, playoffs, combine, draft, free agency. And all those things are now in question. So it's very difficult but we'll try to do our best keep on keeping everybody busy during this hard time."