Chicago Bulls continue interviews as favorite emerges

  • The Chicago Bulls reportedly have a favorite to replace executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson.

    The Chicago Bulls reportedly have a favorite to replace executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson.

 
 
Updated 4/8/2020 7:55 PM

The Bulls continued interviewing candidates Wednesday for a new head of basketball operations, according to multiple reports.

Denver general manager Arturas Karnisovas spoke to Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf via video conference and has been mentioned as a front-runner for the job.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

ESPN reported that Arturas Karnisovas had a second remote interview Wednesday with both Michael and Jerry Reinsdorf.

Karnisovas helped build the Nuggets into a Finals contender mostly through the draft. Center Nikola Jokic, a second-round pick in 2014, has been one of the NBA's more successful draft picks of the past decade.

Some other recent Denver draft picks were Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic, Emmanuel Mudiay, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley and Michael Porter Jr. The Nuggets traded No. 11 pick Doug McDermott to the Bulls for Harris and Nurkic in 2014, a trade that helped lead the Bulls on the wrong path.

At the same time, Denver also traded both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert to the Utah Jazz on draft night in 2017 and 2013, respectively, and didn't get any useful players in return.

Karnisovas, 48, is a native of Lithuania who played college basketball at Seton Hall from 1990-94. After playing professionally overseas, he worked for the NBA for five years, then became an international scout for the Houston Rockets. He joined the Nuggets in 2013 as assistant general manager and was promoted in 2017, when Tim Connelly became the team's president of basketball operations.

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The Bulls also reportedly interviewed two former Atlanta Hawks executives -- Wes Wilcox and Danny Ferry.

Wilcox is a Southern California native who worked his way from New Orleans video coordinator, through many jobs for Cleveland and then Atlanta general manager from 2015-17.

Ferry played 14 seasons in the NBA, then held front-office positions with San Antonio, Cleveland and Atlanta. More recently, he was interim GM for New Orleans before the Pelicans hired David Griffin.

Both Ferry and Wilcox dealt with some controversy while working for the Hawks. Ferry took a leave of absence and eventually left the Hawks after reading a scouting report on former Bulls forward Luol Deng during a conference call. Deng was a free agent at the time and Ferry took the fall, even though he wasn't the author of the offensive scouting report.

Wilcox was at a season-ticket holder event in 2016 when he made a joke about his wife and kids that a person in attendance found offensive. Wilcox apologized and stayed on the job for a short time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Former Suns, Raptors and 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo has also reportedly interviewed the Bulls.

The Bulls' new executive is expected to help decide if John Paxson, Gar Forman and coach Jim Boylen remain with the team.

• ESPN also reported that Bulls guard Zach LaVine will participate in a televised HORSE competition. The participants will be at their own locations and linked by video. Atlanta's Trae Young and Oklahoma City's Chris Paul also were listed as likely participants.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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