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AK’s silence isn’t helping: is he secretive, sidelined, or stupid?

the case for communicating

Chicago Bulls Introduce Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley
the phone is not even plugged in...
Photo by Chris Ramirez/NBAE via Getty Images

I always say that the Bulls Front Office’s style doesn’t matter as much as substance. But I also always say that when the substance is poor (which is pretty often), the style does come into question.

So while we’re all collectively holding down our vomit thinking of the Bulls sitting out a 3rd straight NBA transaction cycle, we have time to wonder: why can’t we hear from anyone? At least to get an idea of their thinking, and some assurance that they’re working at their jobs?

Arturas Karnisovas hasn’t spoken since the beginning of the season. If we’re to allow some grace that he’s not comfortable with it, fine, but in his stead GM Marc Eversley hasn’t spoken...ever?

Instead, all official organizational updates have come from the head coach, Billy Donovan. That includes the grim Lonzo Ball non-updates that Donovan has done his best with but shouldn’t really be in his job description.

Perhaps this part of the job is why Donovan received a secret contract extension? In his media availability, Donovan has been asked about the trade deadline, and since he’s not the decisionmaker on personnel, he’s left to instead project what his bosses may be thinking:

“I don’t think (Arturas Karnisovas)’s going to look at, ‘here’s a handful of games,’” Billy Donovan said before the Bulls faced the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. “I don’t think he’s going to look at, ‘OK, we’ve beat Milwaukee, we’ve beat Philly, everything is going to be fine.’ We’ve got to obviously play more consistently,” he said.

As a message, that all makes sense if that’s indeed what AK is thinking. But why are we getting that thinking as second-hand speculation?

“Why are we talking about Karnisovas like he’s Wizard of Oz?”

After what is a typical hiring process for the small-market Bulls, this is the first time Arturas Karnisovas has held this job. He does not have a resume to fall back on. Nor has he had success since taking over. If anything, his missteps have outweighed any positive moves, so there is more reason to put yourself out there as an assurance.

And this isn’t a case where you need to be silent to gain some advantage. For one thing, there is no convincing argument that you lose an advantage by talking, or even leaking that you’re doing your job. The Toronto Raptors are in a similar position as the Bulls this season, and you hear all sorts of reports on their players being available, and words from their GM that they’re trying. And that guy has created an NBA champion! Whereas AK created a team that for one year was number one seed in the East after 35 games.

It could be that this isn’t Karnisovas or Eversley’s preferred method of business, but it’s imposed on them by ownership. I agree with Joe Cowley (who is a combination of dumbass+asshole, but is one of the very few people following this team that doesn’t work for a partner) on his take that it was ludicrous but very Reinsdorfian that the Donovan contract extension was done in secret. Maybe Reinsdorf is also insisting that trade discussions are completely locked down too. If so, then I was right when saying shortly after Karnisovas was hired that the Bulls needed a do-over on their GarPax replacement.

So in the absence of direct communication, beyond what we get from Donovan there’s some attempts at reporting.

But those only look to reveal inactivity:

Zach Lowe: “these other teams that have talked to the Bulls, somebody used the phrase “closed for business” with me today.”

or idiocy:

KC Johnson (who does work for a team partner): “rival teams continue to operate under the premise that Karnišovas wants to see what his core can accomplish down the stretch run.”

Supposedly AK will talk...after the deadline. You’d hope that Bulls management would see the reaction to these reports and tell themselves that maybe that’s not good enough. When we’re left to speculate instead, we’re all speculating they suck!