Fixing Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen atop the front office to-do list

It won’t come overnight and it could very well take the entire extended offseason, but new Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas knows that Markkanen needs to get back on a path of greatness.

The to-do list for Arturas Karnisovas is long.

Not overwhelming for the new Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations, but definitely one that needs immediate attention.

Some aspects of it far more than others.

Because of the timeline the organization is now working on in the wake of the 22-team restart bubble being approved last week, being on the outside of that bubble allows Karnisovas to slow play the eventual coaching changes, as well as filling in further front office positions.

He made that clear on Saturday.

“I take pride in being deliberate and thoughtful in my decision making, and take the weight of my decisions seriously,’’ Karnisovas said in a Zoom meeting with the media. “I’m not inclined to make evaluations prematurely to satisfy our excitement to move this team forward.’’

Then there’s Lauri Markkanen.

A piece of the franchise that can’t wait for a play-in tournament or an eventual 2019-20 NBA Champion to be named over the next few months.

The 7-foot forward is coming of a season that was more enigmatic than productive. He was disappointed with his role in the offense, and he was questioning the direction of the organization from the coaching to the former front office. The latter has changed obviously, and now it’s up to Karnisovas to get Markkanen back on the path of being an on-the-court difference maker.

A process that started almost immediately.

“We’ve spoken to Lauri numerous times,’’ Karnisovas said. “He’s been very patient, stayed in the [Chicago] market [since the league shutdown because of the coronavirus]. His family is now with him.

“I spoke to him about last year. He’s eager to get back to the gym and improve. He was disappointed by the overall result. Every player wants to win. He’s about winning as well. Our objective is to get the best version of Lauri next year. We agreed in conversations that this is our objective and we’re going to try to do it. Besides that, I’ll look forward to meeting him face to face.’’

Communication, building relationships … all Karnisovas strengths. Markkanen hasn’t been the only Bulls player to already get a taste of that, either.

“Arturas is very, very good as far as communicating,’’ veteran forward Thaddeus Young said. “[New general manager] Marc [Eversley] is great.

“Obviously this is a situation where they can’t really do their job because we’re not playing basketball and I’m sure they’re anxious to really get on the job and get a grasp of things, but they’ve been great so far, as far as the communication between me and all the players. They’ve been reaching out and talking to us all and making sure they’re staying in sync with us.’’

And maybe that’s all Markkanen needs. To feel that he is in sync with what is going on as he heads into the all-important Year 4 of his NBA career.

Contract extension in the works or not, the former No. 7 overall pick has to get his confidence back, as well as an understanding of his importance to this rebuild. That’s what Karnisovas is trying to get Markkanen to buy into.

Believe in his own improvement and then be held to that higher standard.

“Before accountability, I have to have a personal relationship with him,’’ Karnisovas said. “We’ll set the expectations, which are pretty high. And it’s about improvement. Each player, from talking to them, they were disappointed with last year’s result. We’re going to strive to get better.

“Same thing with Lauri. We have a lot of time this offseason. We’re going to put a plan together for him. We’re going to schedule and do that.’’

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