The Chicago Bulls have been interviewing candidates for less than a week, but in that time, they appear to have found their new top-decision-maker. The Bulls welcomed Arturas Karnisovas Monday as their new executive vice president of basketball operations after finalizing a deal on April 9 to hire the Denver Nuggets' general manager.
Karnisovas has been with the Nuggets since 2013 and has been the team's general manager since 2017, working under president of basketball operations Tim Connelly in building one of the Western Conference's top contenders. He was present for the drafting of virtually every core player on the Nuggets, including Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Michael Porter Jr. and previously worked for both the Houston Rockets and the league office. He was a highly coveted candidate for a top role like this having previously interviewed with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks for such a position.
Karnisovas will hire his own general manager, and has seemingly been given total control over the franchise's basketball operations. In his first hire, he's plucking JJ Polk from the New Orleans Pelicans to be the Bulls' assistant general manager, according to Shams Charania of the Athletic. Polk spent seven seasons with the Pelicans in various roles, most recently as the Executive Director of Basketball Administration.
On Monday, the Bulls, while naming John Paxson the team's senior adviser of basketball operations. Nothing is known yet of the status of coach Jim Boylen, though ownership reportedly preferred a new front office to at least about retaining him.
The Bulls have struggled mightily in recent years, first under Fred Hoiberg and now under Boylen. They have made the playoffs only once in the past five seasons, and have been unable to find a true cornerstone with the high draft picks that losing has granted them. Former franchise player Jimmy Butler, meanwhile, has thrived since the Bulls decided to trade him, putting further pressure on the unpopular front office tandem of Paxson and Forman. The two have run the Bulls in tandem for over a decade, with Paxson being the only top decision-maker in Chicago since 2003, when he succeeded the architect of their 1990s dynasty, Jerry Krause.
That resistance to change has been a staple in Chicago, but Karnisovas has worked for one of the NBA's more innovative teams of the past few seasons. Denver's creativity in building around a pass-first center in Jokic will be welcome as Chicago attempts to meaningfully contend for a championship for the first time since Tom Thibodeau's departure. They have quite a ways to go, but in hiring one of the NBA's most respected general managers as their new basketball czar, they've taken the first step back in that direction.