Eversley believes Bulls can do better than rebuild
Three years into a slow-moving Bulls rebuild, new general manager Marc Eversley thinks it's time for a rebranding.
"We've talked a lot about how this is not a rebuild," Eversley told reporters on a Zoom call this week. " We're looking to retool this thing. I think we made a gigantic leap in terms of making a commitment to the fan base by going out and getting a coach with the qualities of a Billy Donovan."
Can a 22-win team retool? That remains to be seen, but there's no question Eversley and new vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas have their work cut out with a young roster, pieces that don't fit together well and no cap space.
"Yeah, there's a little bit of pressure in terms of responsibility of getting this franchise back to relevance, but we embrace that," said Eversley, who used to work for former Bulls first-round pick Elton Brand in Philadelphia.
Hiring Donovan as head coach last week was the first bold move of the Karnisovas-Eversley era. Many observers expected the Bulls to go with a rising star from the assistant coaching ranks, like the Sixers' Ime Udoka. Eversley talked about how quickly things changed when Donovan left Oklahoma City and became available.
"We had interviewed 10 candidates," Eversley said. "So we were pretty far along in the process. We had identified a group of candidates who we felt pretty comfortable with going forward.
"It's interesting because as we were going through the process, one of the things we talked about was we need to practice patience. And when Billy became available, I think Arturas called an Uber and wanted to head to O'Hare right away.
"His aggressiveness was thorough but it was also well thought out, and he had reasons why he thought we need to attack this thing and gather as much information as possible about Billy. One thing about AK is when we want to get something done, he gets it done."
It remains to be seen if the management team will be as aggressive when it comes to reshaping the roster. Logic says no, since they'll have a better opportunity next year after the expensive contracts of Otto Porter and Cristiano Felicio expire.
Porter, Felicio and the rest of the Bulls are in the middle of a two-week minicamp at the Advocate Center, designed to help teams that weren't invited to the Orlando bubble. Eversley confirmed every player who finished the season with the Bulls is participating, except for guard Kris Dunn, who is a free agent and coming back from a knee injury. Two-way player Max Strus is not a full participant after having ACL surgery late last year.
Speaking of Porter, Eversley got to know him when he worked in Washington. Porter was a No. 3 overall draft pick of the Wizards in 2013.
"Physically, he looks great," Eversley said of Porter. "He's been a full participant in the camp thus far. I think last year when he came in, he was really bulky and heavy and that may have contributed to some of the injuries he suffered."
The former management team brought in Porter and his huge contract thinking he was a piece that could push the Bulls forward. But he missed most of last season with a broken foot and didn't play well when he was on the court.
"When he was in Washington he was a little sleeker," Eversley said. "I thought even though he's not a high-level athlete, he moved a lot better. I think he's getting back to that in terms of how he looked and how he's been moving.
"Of course, a player like Otto brings a lot of different things to the table, especially defensively. I think if we can get him back to that level he's going to help this team win games."