With COVID-19 having paralyzed the sports world, the Bulls have apparently been using the time to formally start their search for a new head man in the front office, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Woj also reported the Bulls expect to have their spot filled before the league resumes play.
The Bulls apparently have an already strong list of candidates lined up to interview for the spot, and interviews will begin electronically next week. The new executive is expected to have full control over the basketball operations, and John Paxson will move into an advisory role with Gar Forman being bumped down to the scouting department. So let’s take a look at some of the candidates the Bulls are looking at to take over as head of basketball operations.
The Long Shots
Woj’s report confirmed what had long been rumored around Chicago, that they were looking for a new head man. A few names had been floated by members of the media, and some fans, that the Bulls might target, but these names don’t appear to be in the running for the opening. The first name was Indiana general Manager Chad Buchanen. Buchanen was confirmed as a target by Woj, but apparently declined the opportunity to interview for the opening on Saturday, seemingly ending his candidacy for the spot.
Another name that had been floated was Toronto’s Masai Ujiri. Ujiri was one of the main architects of Toronto’s 2019 championship team, and had been rumored to be interested in going after the Knicks job when it was available. Ujiri has not been reported by anyone as a potential candidate officially, and does not seem to be on the list of potential interviews. And with Toronto general manager Bobby Webster an official candidate, it seems this was nothing more than a pipe dream.
The third name that had been floated by some members of Chicago media was Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti. The Presti idea was met enthusiastically, as he was the one in charge during a stretch where Oklahoma City drafted three MVP’s in James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant. But, it does not appear Presti is on the list of candidates to be interviewed and once again is just a pipe dream.
Bobby Webster, Toronto Raptors general manager
While Ujiri gets most of the credit and fame for the Raptors 2019 championship run, general manager Bobby Webster is credited with a number of huge moves that created the Raptors magical run. He’s credited with uncovering Pascal Siakim and Fred Van Vleet, both of whom turned into pivotal pieces of the Raptors championship squad, and shows a keen eye for talent that the Bulls need in their next head man.
Webster is also credited with being instrumental in the trade that brought Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard over from San Antonio, which was the move that ultimately played the biggest role in bringing the Raptors their championship. Webster is a quickly rising front office superstar. At the age of 36, he’s the youngest general manager in basketball and was Ujiri’s first hire when he took over in Toronto. Webster has a father from Chicago as well.
If the Bulls can’t pull off bringing in Ujiri, Webster is the next best candidate. He’s young, but experienced, and has spent the past few years learning from one of the best in Ujiri. Of the names mentioned as candidates for the position, Ujiri is the one that gets Bulls fans the most excited.
Arturas Karnisovas, Denver Nuggets general manager
Karnisovas was a hot general manager candidate for a number of years after his playing career ended. He was a finalist for the jobs in Brooklyn and Milwaukee before finally landing in Denver. Upon arriving in Denver, Karnisovas almost immediately made a high impact signing in the form of Paul Millsap.
Karnisovas just signed an extension in Denver in 2019, but is still rumored as one of the top candidates for the Bulls top executive job. Karnisovas has had a huge amount of success in Denver in nearly every area including acquiring, signing, and retaining talent. His record as general manager of the Nuggets is 143-86, and before the COVID-19 stoppage, the Nuggets were third in the Western Conference at 43-22.
Karnisovas is another big name on the potential candidate list and comes with the longest track record of sustained success of every candidate on the list. Woj reports that the Bulls have a meeting set with the Denver GM, and could give Bobby Webster a run for his money as most exciting candidate on the list.
Adam Simon, Miami Heat vice president of player personnel/assistant general manager
Simon is probably the least known of the list of confirmed candidates. But Simon comes with an impressive track record in the Heat organization, which is a model the Bulls front office would be happy to emulate.
After starting as an intern under Erik Spoelstra in 1995, Simon has risen through the ranks and now holds the title of VP of Basketball Operations/Assistant GM, with Shane Battier holding the other assistant GM role in the organization. Simon is credited with being instrumental in the acquisitions of mainstays on the Heat’s roster, including Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo.
Battier is another name that many have mentioned as a possible candidate, but he is a recent addition to the Heat front office and has not had enough experience to be a serious candidate to bring over the culture from Miami that the Bulls would like to emulate. Dwyane Wade even hinted at Simon being a candidate for the Bulls job in a Tweet last week.
The names above are a promising and strong start to the Bulls search, and would all represent a culture change that is sorely needed as the Bulls look to return to some resemblance of their glory days.