Arturas Karnisovas knows what he wants in the head coach of the Chicago Bulls. Someone strong at player development. Someone with good communication skills. Someone who relates to players and who they respect.
He’s willing to interview a lot of people — and a lot of top assistant coaches around the league — to find his guy. Just look at the list ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski put forward of assistants the Bulls have gotten permission to talk to.
No permission was necessary for former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson to interview, but new executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley are talking to several assistant coaches still involved in the playoffs, including Milwaukee’s Darvin Ham, Denver’s Wes Unseld Jr. and Miami’s Dan Craig, sources said.
Among the assistant coaches granted permission to talk to Chicago from eliminated teams, sources said: Dallas Mavericks assistants Jamahl Mosley and Stephen Silas, Philadelphia’s Ime Udoka and one candidate — Minnesota associate head coach David Vanterpool — whose team didn’t qualify for the restart, sources said.
That doesn’t include Chris Fleming and Roy Rogers, who worked on former coach Jim Boylen’s staff.
Nate McMillan is available and checks all the boxes of what Karnisovas is seeking, but McMillan has made it clear he is taking a season off from coaching (he is still getting paid by the Pacers for another year). Hard to see Chicago going with Brett Brown, for that matter.
Udoka has been considered a frontrunner (and has interest from multiple teams), plus Atkinson — who helped develop players and build a winning culture in Brooklyn — has to be taken seriously.
It’s far too early to say there is a true frontrunner for the Bulls’ job, and expect Karnisovas to take his time — he just fired the coach the owner likes, he needs to nail this hire.
The Bulls have young talent on the roster — Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, Wendell Carter — but how good they really are and how well they fit together remain unanswered questions. Don’t be shocked if Karnisovas spends the next year hiring a coach and seeing who does and does not fit with the program going forward, then becoming more aggressive with his roster shaping moves.