Arturas Karnisovas vows to make changes after the Bulls missed playoffs for 2nd straight season

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas fell on his sword and vowed to make changes after the team he constructed missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

He said he takes “full responsibility” and promised to get creative in reworking the roster despite having no salary cap space. He'd like to re-sign DeMar DeRozan and plans to bring back coach Billy Donovan. But he struck a far different tone Saturday following a knockout loss to the Miami Heat in the play-in tournament after opting for continuity over change in recent years.

“I'm thinking about winning," Karnisovas said. “That's why I'm here. I'm not here to stay in the middle. The formula that came up three years ago, I thought it was working until a couple injuries. And we're gonna have to find these answers in this offseason. Obviously, the results are not where we want it. I totally get it. And it's on me to figure it out.”

The Bulls went 39-43 and got eliminated by Miami for the second straight year with a blowout loss Friday, even though the Heat were missing injured star Jimmy Butler. Chicago missed the playoffs for the third time in four seasons under Karnisovas and Donovan.

Karnisovas gave his coach a strong endorsement and said it’s management’s job to give the coach the right personnel.

“He’s obviously a great leader, a great coach,” he said. “I’ve got to do a better job to help him, to find a group. We put emphasis on cohesion this year, and I think this group kind of bonded. Again, in totality, it didn't work. And I have to find these answers.”

A team built around DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic hasn't produced the way the Bulls hoped the past few years. Lonzo Ball hasn't played since Jan. 14, 2022, because of a left knee injury, and Chicago hasn't been the same without the point guard.

LaVine played in just 25 games this year before having season-ending foot surgery. The two-time All-Star signed a five-year, $215.16 million extension after the 2021-22 season, and has been the topic of trade speculation.

Vucevic is signed through the 2025-26 season after agreeing to a three-year, $60 million extension last June and avoiding free agency.

“I'm going to look at the totality in this group,” Karnisovas said. “This group hasn't worked. There's a lot of great things in certain individual players and a lot of young guys that took a step forward and it's positive. But in totality, as a group, it didn't work so I'm gonna have to find these answers in the offseason.”

Karnisovas insisted he has “total confidence” in his front office and has no plans to make changes there. He also said he still has the support of chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and CEO Michael Reinsdorf. But he acknowledged the results need to improve.

“I gotta do my job better,” he said. “It's my responsibility. This program is my responsibility. Jerry and Michael have been really supportive. Obviously, their expectation is better results. That's why diving into this offseason, I put emphasis on turning this program around.” ___