3 December 2020

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How Arturas Karnisovas can save the Chicago Bulls

Ever since the vintage Derrick Rose days, the Bulls have been in a rough spot. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2015 and haven’t made the playoffs in four of the past five years. Now Artūras Karnišovas, the new executive vice president of basketball operations, has a tough task to put the Chicago Bulls on the right track. To do that, there has to be change, bold change. Here are steps of how Artūras Karnišovas can rebuild the Bulls to contenders as soon as a year:

1. Fire Jim Boylen

Firing Jim Boylen seems pretty evident. The Bulls have taken a step back since his reign as head coach. Nobody respects him, players dislike him, and he has not established a winning culture with the organization. It is time to burn that bridge and reignite that culture and fanbase.

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2. Hire Kenny Atkinson

Photo via Michael Reaves – Getty Images

Usually, when people end a relationship, their first instinct is to find somebody as different from the ex as possible… that is exactly what Kenny Atkinson is. He was able to establish a winning culture in Brooklyn when they were in as bad of a position an organization can be in. He is well respected, great at developing talent, and all of the players like him. Atkinson is also a really intelligent offensive mind that understands the modern NBA through analytics. Atkinson is the perfect coach to have in a rebuilding situation.

3. Trade Zach Lavine and Lauri Markkanen

Whoa, I bet you guys didn’t anticipate this. Why would the Bulls trade away their two “franchise cornerstones”? Well, Bulls are currently set up for mediocrity for years to come… unless some lottery marbles go their way. Zach Lavine is going to demand a max contract in the near future and Lauri Markkanen also will desire a lucrative contract; Lauri has also been rumored to be unhappy with the Bulls situation. It should be questionable to heavily invest in two dudes that don’t have the upside to take the Bulls to the promised land. Not to mention, things are very stale in Chicago. It would be a good idea to tear things down a year early instead of a year late

4. The Game-Changing Mock Trade

Trading away two franchise cornerstones is nearly always uncomfortable for an organization to do. If this was done, the assets they get better to have more long-term upside than dudes like keeping Lavine and Markkanen around. Here is the trade the Bulls should try to do if they move on from those 2:

Warriors get: John Collins, Wendell Carter Jr.

Hawks get: Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen, 2020 Bulls 2nd round pick

Bulls get: Warriors 2020 unprotected 1st round pick, Hawks 2020 1st round pick, Cam Reddish, Marquese Chriss

Photo via Ben Ladner – SI

Why the Warriors do this

The Warriors are still in a championship window. If they can get players that can make a bigger impact in the next few years than a rookie, they should do this. John Collins would be a tremendous addition for them, he can score from all levels, play the 4 and 5, and would also thrive in a Warriors type system that allows him to run up and down the court. People don’t realize Collins gives you a legit 21 and 10 while being a 40% three point shooter and shooting over 58% from the field… one of the most efficient scorers in the game. Wendell Carter also is a guy that fills a need for them as a young big that can give them legitimately reliable minutes. The Warriors with this trade would be in prime position to contend for an NBA championship once again.

Why the Hawks do this

There has been rumors that there is tension between the Hawks organization and Collins due to role and financial reasons. This trade allows them to move on from him and get quite a bit in return. Zach Lavine would be the secondary star and playmaker the Hawks desperately need. Not to mention, a Trae Young and Zach Lavine tandem would be the box office sellout. They also get Lauri Markkanen who would takeover Collins’ position and be a high-end stretch floor that compliments Young and Lavine as the third option. Their defense would be a concern but Capela and Hunter are there. If Zach Lavine gets motivated in the end, he would at least not be a liability which makes that defense as a whole fine. The Hawks would be firmly in the playoff conversation with Zach Lavine and Trae Young.

Why the Bulls do this

What better way to start a rebuild than 3 top 10 picks and cap space? The Bulls would have the opportunity to add three young talented guys with all of their draft picks to give to Atkinson to develop. He has a strong history if developing young players. They also get Marquese Chriss and Cam Reddish who are former lottery picks that are young with upside. Even more young talent to add to that Bulls young nucleus. Plus, they avoid having to pay Lauri Markkanen and Zach Lavine a lot of money which gives them the flexibility to add more players via free agency… which leads to the next step:

5. Become suiters for stars in the 2021 free agency class:

With all of these moves. The Bulls would have emerging young talent and over $70M in cap space! This puts them in a position to sign some of the big 2021 free agents which includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bradley Beal, and Kawhi Leonard. The Bulls would have an incredibly strong pitch to big time free agents since they can elevate your brand in this market, you can play with young emerging talent, and not only that, we have the flexibility to not only sign you…. but whoever you want to come along. These advantages would put Chicago in prime position to lure in a superstar; especially if that star can bring more talent. This could be similar to a Miami Heat situation when the Heat added Bosh and Lebron. If the Bulls prove they can have some stability in the 2020-21 season… the chances of them pulling this off would be huge.

Photo via Morry Gash – AP Photo

Conclusion:

Indeed, the Bulls have a big hole to dig themselves out of; but if Karnisovas is aggressive and plays his cards right, he could dig them out of this hole quite quickly. This scenario could do the trick but it isn’t the only way Karnisovas could bring the Bulls back to relevance. All eyes will be on him to see what he does and it will be very interesting to see if he can become Chicago’s savior.

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