Why Artūras Karnišovas' promise for change on the Chicago Bulls will take hold in NBA Free Agency

Chicago Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Artūras Karnišovas was open about the fact he didn't plan on Wednesday night's outcome.

The Bulls selected a basketball player of Lithuanian descent in Matas Buzelis in the first round of the 2024 NBA Draft in the next stage of Chicago's roster renovations to remain competitive in the chase for an NBA title.

Karnišovas, after the first round of the NBA Draft, talked about the masterplan. That was his promise of change. It's ongoing, and continues with some foreboding words.

"When I last saw you guys, I told you that we needed to make changes and we have started that process," Karnišovas said. "While I cannot speak to all of the potential changes, it's hard to predict what we might look like in a week or two."

The "week or two" time frame will include NBA free agency, where it's becoming clear the Bulls will make the majority of those changes.

Still, already the Bulls look different.

In trading Alex Caruso for the 21-year-old Josh Giddey, and selecting the 19-year-old Buzelis, the Bulls have gotten younger. Karnišovas noted they also got more versatile.

Buzelis fits in that vision of versatility.

"Our league is moving towards multi-positional wings and just size and athleticism and versatility can put it on the floor and then switch ability," Karnišovas said.  "We average more than two blocks per game, I don't know exactly what to expect next year, but I know that those guys are gonna be on the floor and they're very versatile."

Giddey is a player that Karnišovas stirred some ire with by not acquiring draft capital in trading Caruso. Karnišovas said he felt the trade, just player for player straight up, was fair considering the development Giddey can still undergo.

Karnišovas said Giddey comes with a ceiling the team will aim to unlock.

"He has room for growth and I think coming here to Chicago, he is going to be able to demonstrate more playmaking and he'll make everyone else better," Karnišovas said. "Once he becomes a better shooter, he is going to be a threat and then is going to be able to play make much better."

They also hired and moved on from coaches, bringing Wes Unseld Jr. and Dan Craig into the fold to bring leadership, defensive ideology and cultural installation.

But, those moves do not come close to bringing the Bulls within striking distance of the reigning NBA champion Boston Celtics, let alone the Miami Heat who have ended the Bulls' season for two-straight years.

More moves are on the horizon in free agency. The number of moves and how massive they are will be determined in the same time frame.

"Our plans for next year are going to be impacted by our pick, what's going be available in the free agency," Karnišovas said, "Which we still don't know."

The rumors are already swirling.

Are the Bulls moving Nikola Vucevic, who underwhelmed last season, to Golden State? What about the rumor that Zach LaVine could move to Sacramento for two players? Again, these are rumors with no substantial water to hold them up.

But, these rumors and discussions are more than what the Bulls are willing to let on at the moment.

"As I said before, we're going to look at everything," Karnišovas said. "Everything is on the table."

There are still more concrete talks, such as discussions about impending free agent guard DeMar DeRozan who has been the most consistent Bull since Karnišovas landed him in a trade with the Spurs.

"It's still an option," Karnišovas said of re-signing DeRozan.

With everything on the table, it's fair to assume the number of changes will vary, too.

Karnišovas did say both Lonzo Ball and LaVine have been cleared for basketball activities. Patrick Williams is expected to be ready for training camp too, Karnišovas noted.

Ball is recovering from a meniscus transplant, which would be a first in the basketball world should he return to play from such a procedure. 

Ball himself said he's planning on playing for the Bulls when the 2024-2025 season opens. Karnišovas said that's still to be determined, as the team will see what he looks like across the next two months.

This is the common theme: wait and see.

How different will the Bulls be next year? Karnišovas will let everyone know as he makes those moves when NBA Free Agency starts. NBA Summer League is next, but the Bulls can start negotiating with free agents on June 30.

From there, the Bulls as we know them could look entirely different. Or, they might not be that different at all.

Time – in this case, just a week or two – will tell.

"Week and two weeks away from now, we're going to be able to comment on that," Karnišovas said.


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