Bulls statement on NBA return to play plan

Chicago Bulls President and COO Michael Reinsdorf and Executive Vice President and Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas released the following statements Thursday in response to the NBA’s plan for the rest of the 2019-20 season:

MICHAEL REINSDORF: “It is disappointing that we will not return to play for the 2019-20 season, but ultimately this decision is about more than just one team. We are supportive of Commissioner Adam Silver and the outcome of the vote by the NBA Board of Governors. We thank Adam and his team for their thoughtful work in exploring all available options to come up with a solution that allows the NBA as a league to resume. They spent countless hours having open dialogue with leaders and experts across various industries, as well as team executives, listening and educating themselves to ensure the NBA made the best, safest decision for the league and our players during these unprecedented times.

“We will now shift our focus to continue to build our team under the new leadership of Arturas Karnisovas and our Basketball Operations Department with a focus on the Draft, free agency and offseason development. To our fans and the great city of Chicago: We thank you for your continued support. Keep moving forward with us as we prepare to return to the court for the 2020-21 season.”

ARTURAS KARNISOVAS: “To be included in the plan to restart the 2019-20 season would have been a positive for our players and their development, but we understand the need to compromise and we support the decision made today by the NBA Board of Governors. We are disappointed that our season is over and there won’t be opportunities to see our team or players in game action, but we will be creative in discovering new opportunities to support their growth as we prepare for the next season. Commissioner Adam Silver had the difficult responsibility to develop the best option for the league, and I commend him for the job he has done, particularly given the extraordinary circumstances.”

With Neil Funk soon to retire, Bulls hire Adam Amin as new TV play-by-play broadcaster

In Chicago Bulls news, the team has hired Adam Amin as their new primary TV play-by-play broadcaster.

Amin will succeed Neil Funk, who is retiring his headset when the 2019-20 NBA regular season ends.

Alongside Amin will be Bulls TV analyst Stacey King on the exclusive home of Bulls basketball, NBC Sports Chicago, starting in the 2020-21 season.

“We knew replacing Neil would not be an easy task, but as we got to know Adam over the last two seasons and became even more familiar with his work, he rose to become our top choice,” said team President and COO Michael Reinsdorf. “Adam knows our fans because he grew up a Bulls fan. That was important to us. We wanted to find someone who not only had the talent, but who also understood our history and the role the Bulls play in the lives of our city and our fans. When he and Stacey worked together, we received so much positive feedback that I know our fans are going to really enjoy the work of this new broadcast duo. Adam brings strong credentials to this role, as well as an energy, charisma and innate storytelling ability that help him immediately connect with his audience whether he’s behind a microphone, at an event or on social media. He’s a perfect fit as our new TV play-by-play announcer to call the next generation of Bulls games, and we’re thrilled that he’s joining the Bulls family.”

“Adam is a rising star in the sports broadcasting industry and, even though he will have big shoes to fill in replacing a legend like Neil, he will be an excellent addition to our Bulls telecasts beginning next season,” added Kevin Cross, Senior Vice President/General Manager, NBC Sports Chicago. “Adam is a proud Chicagoan who has a deep understanding of the team’s history and the enormous impact they have on their local, national and global fan base. We look forward to having Adam on our team.”

“The experience of filling in for Mr. Funk gave me a glimpse of what it’s like to work with such an exceptional group of professionals inside the Bulls organization and NBC Sports Chicago,” said Amin. “To have the privilege of joining the Chicago Bulls broadcast team is way beyond a dream coming true. The little kid sitting on the floor of his parents’ basement watching Bulls games could never have imagined this. I am absolutely ecstatic and truly grateful to the organization for trusting me with this opportunity.”

Amin is starting his first season as a play-by-play announcer for FOX Sports’ NFL and MLB coverage, and he will continue in this role while serving as the lead TV voice for the Bulls. For Bulls games that Amin is absent, a substitute Bulls play-by-play announcer will be assigned.

Before joining FOX, Amin spent nine years at ESPN where he covered a multitude of high-profile sports and events across multiple mediums.

Three Bulls players who could benefit from the NBA resuming the 2019-20 season

NBA play has been on hold since mid March. In the next week or two, we could get word on if the 2019-20 season will resume, possibly by late July. Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times reporting on some Bulls players who might benefit from regular season play resuming, as opposed to being cancelled:

Three Bulls that would most benefit from a restart:

1. Coby White — The rookie is unbeaten as the starting point guard, earning the nod against Cleveland just before the coronavirus shutdown hit the NBA. Five to 10 more games could at least show the new front office that White does have solid enough point guard skills that they could look at a different position when the draft does take place.

2. Lauri Markkanen — Last we left the 7-foot enigma, he was unhappy with the current structure of his own organization. That was reported by multiple media outlets, including the Sun-Times. A big part of that structure has changed in the front office, however, and more could be on the way with the coaching staff.

3. Otto Porter Jr. — The veteran forward makes the Bulls better when he plays. The record and stats back that up. The problem is he has seldom played since being acquired last season, and needs to start showing some reliability.

The Bulls were nowhere near a playoff team this season. But one idea being floated around is a play-in tournament that might give all 30 squads a shot at the postseason.

Bulls reportedly keeping assistant coach Nate Loenser in 2020-21

NBA play may be on pause, but certain organizational decisions can still be made. Per the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bulls will retain the services of assistant coach Nate Loenser for the 2020-21 season:

New executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has been very aggressive in the revamping of the Bulls, already firing former general manager Gar Forman and head trainer Jeff Tanaka, while allowing current head coach Jim Boylen to mutually agree to part ways with assistant coach Shawn Respert.

Many are hopeful that sometime soon, perhaps in very early June, the NBA may make a decision regarding the remainder of the 2019-20 season and of course, the playoffs.

John Wall on what Michael Jordan would average in the NBA today

Here’s NBC Sports Washington reporting on what Wizards guard John Wall thinks Michael Jordan would put up in today’s NBA:

Everyone has their take on the subject, and while some think Jordan would be just another guy today, people like John Wall believe he’d be even better than he was when he rattled off two separate three-peats.

“Imagine someone averaging 37 [points] when you’re getting beat up, no [defensive] three seconds, hand checks,” Wall said in an interview with 247 Sports. “Now, if you hit somebody like that you get suspended 10 games.

“Jordan’s averaging 45 and whatever else he wants,” he said. “You can’t touch nobody. You can’t hand-check. No hand-check, you playing 6’6 guys at center. The league is totally different. Like, I’m not knocking it, but if you can’t score right now and get a bucket one-on-one, you don’t belong in basketball.”

Bulls and assistant coach Shawn Respert will reportedly part ways after this season

Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times reporting on Bulls head coach Jim Boylen and his plans beyond this season — the one that’s currently on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic — regarding one of his assistants:

Boylen won’t retain assistant coach/player-development coach Shawn Respert when his contract is up at the end of the season, but it was obvious weeks ago that Respert was looking for a new career path long before the season was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Respert had long hinted that he wanted to be a head coach at the college or pro level and couldn’t really envision achieving that goal with his role on the Bulls’ staff.

Steve Kerr hotel check-in alias used to be ‘Austin Powers’

Here’s NBC Sports Chicago reporting a fun item from the Bulls’ past:

In news that really only would have made sense in 1997 or 1998, it appears current Warriors coach Steve Kerr used “Austin Powers” as his alias to check into hotel rooms on road trips while playing with the Chicago Bulls.

NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer deduced Kerr’s nom de plume after examining a list of road-trip room assignments that ’97-98 Bulls reserve Rusty LaRue shared on Twitter. Schaefer found that the list, which wasn’t presented in alphabetical order, closely corresponded with an A-Z list of Chicago’s roster from that season.

Bulls hire Pat Connelly and JJ Polk to front office jobs

The Chicago Bulls have hired Pat Connelly and JJ Polk, naming Connelly as Vice President of Player Personnel and Polk as Assistant General Manager.

Connelly will primarily be responsible for the structure and processes of the scouting department.

Polk will primarily be responsible for strategic planning and salary cap management, in addition to being involved in all player personnel matters.

“Pat and JJ both bring valuable experience that will enhance our basketball operations department,” said Arturas Karnisovas, Bulls Executive Vice President – Basketball Operations. “I know that the skills these two possess will be an asset in building out our program. JJ’s expertise with cap management and negotiations will help us be creative in our deals and contracts, while Pat’s great eye for talent, global contacts and networking capabilities will organize our scouting department in a productive way. Combined, these two basketball minds will help increase functionality and implement our vision of moving this program forward.”

Per the Chicago Sun-Times, “the Bulls announced last week that Marc Eversley was named general manager, bringing the number of front office hires to three for Karnisovas. Expect that number to grow, as the plan all along has been to build out each department in the front office, as well as adding depth to each one.”

Connelly was most recently the Director of Pro Personnel with the Denver Nuggets, a position he held for one season in 2019-20. Prior to his time in Denver, Connelly spent five seasons with the Phoenix Suns as Assistant General Manager from 2013-18 and seven seasons with the Washington Wizards from 2006-13. He joined the Wizards as a part-time advance scout and worked his way to Director of Player Personnel, becoming one of the team’s top scouts for college and international play. Prior to his time in the NBA, Connelly was a graduate assistant for the men’s basketball team at Baylor University from 2004-06, where he also earned a master’s degree in speech communication. He earned his undergraduate degree in business from Mount St. Mary’s University in 2002. Connelly spent one season as an assistant coach on Nick Nurse’s staff for the Brighton Bears of the British Basketball League in the 2003-04 season, helping guide the team to the league title.

Polk joins the Bulls after spending 10 seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans, most recently as Executive Director of Basketball Administration. He was initially hired to the Pelicans as the Director of Player Contracts and Basketball Administration, working two seasons in that role from 2010-12. Before joining the NBA, Polk practiced law at Bryan Cave LLP for six years as an associate in the Real Estate and Banking Practice Group. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois College of Law. As an undergraduate at Rice University, Polk earned a political science and managerial studies degree. He played professional basketball in Sweden, Latvia and China from 1997-2000.

New Bulls GM Marc Eversley shares player-first mentality

The Bulls have a new front office. It’s a new era in Chicago. Okay, the start of one. Possibly. It’s all about results. Anyway, here’s the Chicago Sun-Times reporting:

“One of my mottos is ‘players first,’ ‘’ new GM Marc Eversley said on Friday, when he was officially introduced to the media via Zoom. “I think you have to create a players-first mentality. And I agree with you – we were the second-youngest team in the NBA last year, and I really believe it starts with a foundation of player development. True player development, that’s really when we can see what kind of players we have on our roster.’’

Develop the players to their fullest potential and then actually have a real selling point to a superstar?

Sure, former GM Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson spoke about that often, but had very little idea on how to execute it.

The best player developer Forman and Paxson had was one-time coach Tom Thibodeau, who was so adept at bringing the best out of players, he covered up a lot of the mistakes his bosses made both in the draft and free agency.

And here’s NBC Sports Chicago:

It seemed telling that Karnisovas answered a question on division of labor with a collaboration-focused response. Whether it’s internally or in inter-organization dealings, Karnisovas and Eversley will work in concert. For, say, a trade negotiation, one of Karnisovas or Everlsey might have a stronger relationship with an executive to leverage. In a different scenario, one might share a strong connection with an agent for a free agent pursuit. Even externally, Karnisovas said they will share duties like meeting with reporters to detail the team’s vision and actions.

“The luxury that we have with our current hires is that we’re coming from a lot of different programs. And we can take the best scouting practices and how we look at evaluating players, how we look at player development,” Karnisovas said. “We’re going to share our responsibilities. We’re going to hear each other out and make a decision at the end of the day.

First up will be the draft, which is scheduled for late June, but with May’s draft lottery and draft combine postponed, it’s possible the actual draft date might change as well.

Chicago Bulls hire Marc Eversley as new general manager

The Chicago Bulls have hired Marc Eversley to be the team’s General Manager. In this role, Eversley will report directly to Executive Vice President – Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas and primarily be responsible for overseeing the implementation of all elements of the basketball operations process.

“I set out to find a General Manager who complemented my vision and values, and who could help implement them at the Bulls in a fresh way. Marc’s background and skills do exactly that,” said Karnisovas. “He has a history of building strong relationships across the board, identifying talent at organizations that have had success during his time there, and the necessary insight for building a network that will be an asset to our program. He’s ready for this next step in his career, and I’m looking forward to working with him to build the Bulls back into a perennial contender.”

Eversley comes to Chicago with 14 years of NBA experience, working for the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers. In his latest role as Senior Vice President of Player Personnel with the 76ers, he not only oversaw player personnel and talent evaluation, but was also involved in Philadelphia’s recruiting and decision-making process. He was promoted to Senior Vice President after serving the first two seasons as Vice President of Player Personnel. He also oversaw Philadelphia’s scouting department on the collegiate, NBA and international levels.

“Becoming a General Manger in the NBA and joining the Chicago Bulls family is a dream come true,” said Eversley. “I’m grateful to be working with someone like Arturas who shares my level of passion and commitment to winning basketball, and having both come from successful programs, we will put in the work and all it entails to become a sustainable and winning team. I want to thank Arturas, as well as Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf, for trusting in my leadership abilities to move this iconic franchise forward.”

Here’s the Chicago Tribune:

It’ll be hard not to notice Eversley when he walks into a room, considering he stands at 6-foot-8 and is a former NAIA college basketball player at Urbana University in Ohio, which recently closed. Eversley played 95 games in his career and averaged 11.3 points per game. Although neither Eversley nor Karnisovas ever played in the NBA, they both come to the Bulls front office with some basketball experience.

Eversley was on the 76ers staff when the team selected Ben Simmons first-overall in the 2016 NBA Draft, and he helped Philadelphia transition from a team that won 28 games his first season in 2016-17 to one that won 50-plus games the next two seasons. This year’s team was on pace for 50 wins again before the NBA went on hiatus during the 2019-20 season. He had a hand in acquiring such players as J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris to fortify a roster that included Simmons and Joel Embiid.

And more from the Tribune:

The Bulls do not overhaul their front office often, so when their search for Karnisovas started and finished without successfully interviewing any black candidates — in a league where about 70 percent of the players are black — they drew criticism from African American executives around the league. Chief Operating Officer Michael Reinsdorf said they were denied permission to interview the people of color on their list. Regardless, Karnisovas said he would make it a point to change that and emphasized diversity within his candidate pool.

Prior to joining the 76ers, Eversley spent three seasons with the Washington Wizards as Vice President of Player Personnel. He began his NBA career with the Toronto Raptors where he spent seven seasons as an Assistant General Manager responsible for player development, then personnel scouting and evaluation, and he played a lead role in drafting DeMar DeRozan ninth-overall in the 2009 NBA Draft. Eversley concluded the final two seasons of his Toronto tenure as the Vice President of College Scouting.