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Bulls GM Marc Eversley proof of life challenge
in rare front office public comments, Eversley mostly tows (toes?) company line
Credit to the Chicago Bulls for relenting even a bit in their open antagonism towards their fanbase, and letting GM Marc Eversley out to speak. Eversley, second in command to Arturas Karnisovas, was hired shortly after AK but never made any press-facing appearances until he was part of the post-draft session this summer.
If you recall, that press conference was still the typically insipid and boring stuff we’ve come to expect for the past, oh, forever years. But Eversley at least is a better communicator than AK.
Eversley was out and about at Bulls Fest this past weekend, and several brief news drops came of it. One was the admission that it was top priority to re-sign ‘technically a starting center’ Nikola Vucevic.
Much more substantial though was a very long Q&A held between Eversley and The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry. Again, credit to Eversley for being at least a little more transparent with his public-facing job, and more credit to Mayberry for asking good questions.
But it’s little good that the message is communicated better when the job performance, and assessment of it, is still this poor. Karnisovas should’ve been fired last season, and his summer didn’t live up to his arrogant predictions, but this from Eversley didn’t have me thinking they have someone much better waiting in the wings. A lot of it was very similar to his boss:
Ultimately disappointed in the sub-.500 season, Eversley “felt good about the group” that “came together” during the ::pausing for raising of banner:: 14-9 record after the All-Star break.
Eversley thinks his team is better than others believe, and won’t let pesky things like objective (or at least non-insular) assessments dissuade him:
We can’t get caught up in the negativity, the naysayers...How we [the front office] see our ceiling may be different than others. And the way we have operated is we’re going to operate this with our beliefs. We’ve all been to different places. We’ve seen what success looks like. We trust in each other and we believe in this group. We can’t run this operation based on what people may think the outcome may be.
I don’t think this is even true that they’ve all ‘seen success’. Eversley left Toronto before they won a title, just like Karnisovas in Denver. He also name-checked JJ Polk (past experience with Pelicans), Brian Hagen (Iowa State), and Steve Weinman (blogging).
Not to mention, because it’s prohibitively expensive for the mid-market Chicago Bulls, nobody there has had prior experience actually “running an operation”.
A rare example of self-criticism from anyone:
Player development-wise, I feel like we’re in a really good place. Could we have done a better job over the past couple of years? Probably.
This is a pretty key aspect of the job, this job. When hired, this group said they were going to emphasize player development. That was a good sell to ownership because young players are cheaper. So to still need improvement, let alone not excel at it, is pretty damning.
As to the culprit, Eversley was in lockstep with the rest of team in absolute praise for Billy Donovan. So it’s not the head coach that’s in any way responsible. Eversley instead reminded everyone that they hired a shooting coach this summer.
Perhaps most revelatory, while Eversley never uses the dreaded buzzword “continuity” he clearly believes in it:
No team in the NBA has put a roster together and won. It takes time. If you go back and look at the teams over history, those groups have been together for a while.
This is just…not true? Even if he means ‘win’ to mean ‘winning an NBA title the first season’, the Celtics did that in 2008. And we know that this team does not have championship standards, it’s a benchmark he did not apply at any other point when talking about success.
Plus, in another answer, Eversley reminisces how great the Lonzo-led team was for those few months he had two working knees. Wasn’t that a roster that was just put together?
Eversley did use another AK buzzword many times over: “program”. Like Patrick Williams is becoming an upperclassman, and Coby White is heading into his senior year. This is just totally out of step with the modern NBA, with shorter contracts and increased player movement the past several seasons. And your best players can’t have a gap year! DeMar DeRozan is entering his age-34 season! Vucevic at 33, LaVine at 28.
Ultimately: Eversley, like AK, thinks everything is great (“I like the path we’re on”) and they’ve only improved. The improvement part may be technically true, but Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig only add so much.
And, like AK, part of Eversley’s rationale for thinking this is because he has meager ambition. Maybe that’s the disconnect they have internally versus externally when it comes to a “ceiling”. When asked point-blank by Mayberry how to define success for this coming season, Eversley answered it’d mean winning 41 games.
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