Artūras Karnišovas

DeMar DeRozan's future will help finalize Artūras Karnišovas' direction

Bulls VP excited about additions of Josh Giddey, Matas Buzelis but won't declare direction yet

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On a Wednesday night the Chicago Bulls excitedly added Matas Buzelis in the first round of the NBA Draft, which came five days after trading for Josh Giddey, executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas wouldn’t bite on whether the organization is headed towards a youth movement.

But his answer about DeMar DeRozan’s potential unrestricted free agency beginning on Sunday spoke volumes. Previously, Karnišovas has been adamant about re-signing DeRozan. And while that still could happen, the fact no negotiations have advanced during the Bulls’ exclusive negotiation period also is telling.

“As I said before, we're gonna look at everything,” Karnišovas said. “Everything is on the table. And you know, it’s still an option.”

Time will tell if the Bulls, who also are shopping Zach LaVine, go full rebuild or not. It’s certainly trending that way.

“When I last saw you guys (in April), I told you 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.

“I’m happy that we were able to get this deal done and bring Josh to Chicago. Bringing a very talented guard that is an elite playmaker and rebounder with elite size, his game is predicated on making everyone better around him. Those guys are hard to find and they’re not available. We were fortunate to get him. And it comes at the high price, which was AC (Alex Caruso). I want to thank Alex for an amazing three years. He was great for the city of Chicago and Bulls organization. We wish him all the best in Oklahoma City.

“I take my role of reshaping this team very seriously and (Wednesday) was an important step in that direction. As I’ve said everything is on the table. I want fans to know we are committed to the process of building a team for long-term success. We’ve made some initial changes this offseason and now our focus shifts on Friday to free agency. We can’t predict exactly what’s going to happen, but we’re determined to strengthen our roster.”

Whatever the case, with Giddey and Buzelis joining a roster that also has Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, Dalen Terry and Julian Phillips---and could return restricted free agent Patrick Williams---development is more important than chasing a play-in spot now.

Giddey, 21, will be one of the centerpieces.

“His production was really good the last three years. He has room for growth. And I think, you know, coming here to Chicago, he's going to be able to demonstrate more playmaking and he'll make everyone else better,” Karnišovas said. “Actually, you know, most of the players that come into our league, become a better shooter. So I think once he becomes a better shooter, he's going to be a threat, and then he's going to be able to play make much better.”

The Bulls turned down offers featuring draft capital from at least two known teams in the Kings and Knicks to acquire Giddey.

“I feel that this deal was fair,” Karnišovas said. “Both sides got what they wanted.”

Giddey is eligible for an extension of his rookie deal until the first day of the 2024-25 season or else becomes a restricted free agent.

“When you make deals, you always hope it’s for a long time,” Karnišovas said.

As for Buzelis, he was widely expected to be gone by the 11th pick. The Bulls held talks to move both up and back in the draft but, in Karnišovas’ words, stayed “patient” and landed a player who already has battled G League opponents as part of the Ignite team.

“He played against men, right? So the one thing that Ignite team got beat up and a lot of those guys came from winning programs. They didn’t win many games but they competed against grown men. So I think physicality and as close as you can get to an NBA game, that’s what he experienced in G League,” Karnišovas said. “Hopefully that translates to the NBA for him faster. But he has a lot to work on and he’s looking forward to it.”

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