Bulls' Artūras Karnišovas straddles fence on trade possibilities

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Karnišovas straddles fence on trade possibilities originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

During his introductory news conference as Chicago Bulls executive vice president in April 2020, Artūras Karnišovas cited team chemistry as a major goal from his roster construction. It's a theme he returned to again at last September's media day.

So it shouldn't surprise that Karnišovas mentioned it again on Thursday's Mully & Haugh Show on 670 The Score when asked whether he planned to stand pat at the Feb. 10 trade deadline or add another piece.

Just like it shouldn't surprise that the notoriously tight-lipped executive played both sides of the question — like most executives would when faced with a similar question.

"Well, I like this group. I like this group a lot," Karnišovas said on the Bulls' radio flagship station. "Like I said, we're competing right now, this season. It's a new group, right? So teams that are close by (in the standings) like, you know, Brooklyns and Milwaukees and Phillys, they've had their group for two or three years at least. And we've had this group for three months. So we're still learning, still adjusting.

"I like this group a lot, the mental toughness. A lot of games that we came back, we didn't fold. But at the same time, we are also open to any kind of possibilities and will listen. However, as I said, I love this group of guys."

Several league executives have said this season has featured a different rhythm leading up to the trade deadline. With so many teams experiencing so many players landing in the league's health and safety protocols, exploratory calls gauging the trade market and value has taken a backseat to merely fielding a roster by signing hardship exception players. The present has dominated the future.

But chatter will pick up in this final month. And with the Bulls surprisingly sitting atop the Eastern Conference, one more big splash could have major impact — for better or for worse.

"I think we’d like to see how this group works together, and we’ve got to be really sensitive to any changes, if any, we will have," Karnišovas said on the show. "Like I said, these guys have a great locker room, a great vibe. They like each other. It’s a joy to watch what they’re doing on the floor. But of course, there’s room to improve as a group and I’m looking forward to watching them." 

If the Bulls were to make a major splash to pursue — say, the Pistons' Jerami Grant or the Kings' Harrison Barnes — it would cost them Patrick Williams in some larger package. Williams represented Karnišovas' first personnel move as a lead executive, drafted fourth overall in the 2020 NBA draft. Currently sidelined following wrist surgery, Williams is under no specific timeline to return, Karnišovas said.

Will he be wearing a Bulls uniform when he does? Stay tuned.

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