Bulls complete second round of talks with Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas


The Bulls first interviewed Arturas Karnisovas for their head of basketball operations on Tuesday, sources said, and the two parties talked again Wednesday afternoon via remote conferencing as the Denver Nuggets general manager became a centerpiece of the search.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that the second interview involved Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who, at this stage of his career, only gets involved in matters of business when they're close to being finalized. Bulls president and chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf has orchestrated this search and, along with executive vice president John Paxson, first interviewed Karnisovas.

The Bulls hope to have the first part of the hiring process finalized sooner than later, sources said, particularly since the new hire will be granted authority to build out the front office's infrastructure. Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik interviewed for the position on Monday.

Also on Wednesday, news broke that the Bulls staged recent interviews with other candidates. NBC Sports Chicago reported that the Bulls interviewed former Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, Wojnarowski's reported that the Bulls interviewed former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox and The Athletic reported that the Bulls interviewed former Raptors, 76ers and Suns executive Bryan Colangelo. Some of these interviews were less formal and, a source said, possibly scheduled for information gathering purposes or for other front-office roles.

There is substantial interest around the league for potential positions in the Bulls' revamped front office, a source said.

Following a collegiate career at Seton Hall and wildly successful international playing career that included two Olympics appearances, Karnisovas worked for the NBA for five years before joining the Rockets as an international scout. He joined the Nuggets’ front office in 2013 and was promoted to general manager under Connelly in June 2017. 

In his time in Denver, he is credited in some part for the Nuggets snaring star center Nikola Jokic with the No. 41 pick in the 2014 draft, as well as recent lottery hits, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Along with Connelly, he helped pioneer the construction of one of the most touted international scouting departments in the league.

Sources said Karnisovas and Zanik, who also interviewed with Michael Reinsdorf and Paxson, conveyed that they view Paxson as a resource moving forward, although Paxson initiated much of this need for a more modern front office and will be stepping into an advisory role. It's unknown if Paxson was involved in the interviews of Ferry, Wilcox and Colangelo. Reinsdorf also has held solo discussions with some of the candidates. Karnisovas is the only known candidate to interview with Jerry Reinsdorf.

Whomever is hired will have full autonomy on basketball operations, including deciding the future of the coaching staff, sources said.

Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill first reported Karnisovas' status as a likely front-runner.

Sources said Michael Reinsdorf, who initially expressed hesitation because of Zanik’s player agency ties, was impressed by Zanik’s communication skills, player relationships and knowledge of the collective bargaining agreement. Michael Reinsdorf has made clear he wants to build front office depth.

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