The Bulls’ voluntary minicamp bubble is done but work only gets harder

The Bulls’ voluntary minicamp bubble is done but work only gets harder


The NBA new normal is a mine field that all the front offices will have to maneuver, and the next obstacle that has to be cleared is getting ready for the Nov. 18 draft. The Bulls hope they have the right pieces in place to do just that.

The hurdles have been frequent for this new Bulls regime.

Post-bubble isn’t going to exactly make that change.

If anything, dealing with the new NBA normal over the next few months is going to be even more trying for the likes of vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley.

They have to continue monitoring their current roster now that the voluntary minicamp has ended this week, making sure the players stay in shape, rehab injuries, and embrace the new philosophies of head coach Billy Donovan. Then they have to start looking for addition options with a roster that is basically locked.

That starts with prepping for the Nov.18 draft, which will be no easy task.

“Obviously, working mostly virtual, a lot of our work has been done via Zoom calls and video work,’’ Eversley said of the challenges the coronavirus has presented to the draft process. “Obviously, there’s not going to be a live combine where we actually get to bring players into Chicago and work them out. Obviously, there’s not going to be draft workouts where we get to bring them into the facility and work them out and get to talk to them and have our coaches work with them.

“So it’s been a challenge. But every single team is going through the same thing. We look forward to progressing towards the draft. Post-bubble, it will become one of the No. 1 things on our list. It’s a critical time on the calendar. And in terms of roster building, it’s going to be something that we’re laser focused on as we progress towards the draft.’’

The Bulls have the No. 4 pick overall, but everything will be in play, including moving up or down, or even packaging the pick as an asset to try and land a proven star.

As Karnisovas and Co. have shown with the way they hunted down Donovan just days after he and Oklahoma City had a mutual parting of ways, they will be deliberate in the way they conduct business, but they will be aggressive.

If there’s an offseason to move off the fourth overall pick, it’s this offseason.

Despite Karnisovas’ assessment, it is not widely considered a strong draft class. The best player can be had at No. 16 as easily as he can be found at Nos. 1 or 3.

Then factor in the handcuffing the coronavirus has slapped on the wrists of NBA teams trying to assess that lack of talent and getting to know these players personally?

“So I think you lose the human and the personal touch when you don’t get to bring players into your market,’’ Eversley admitted. “Whether that’s over at the Advocate Center and watching them work out on the floor or it’s interviewing them face to face, there’s a component of taking players to dinner or lunch and actually sitting with them and talking to them.

“I think those types of things are potentially lost when you don’t get to spend time with them face to face. I put a lot of value in talking to people and spending time with people. It’s great to talk over Zoom, but I really think there’s a deeper connection when you get to spend time with somebody face to face.’’

The good news for the Bulls is in building this new-look front office they have intel on this draft class from multiple organizations. Then factor in Donovan’s influence, and the Bulls could have an advantage that other organizations in the lottery don’t.

All NBA coaches have their college connections, but Donovan was on a path of legendary status in his days at Florida. Yes, he left for the NBA in 2015, but his cellphone contact list is a vast one.

“This is a challenging time,’’ Donovan added. “There’s no question about that.’’

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