CHICAGO, Ill. - It's been over two years since the Chicago Bulls made a trade involving active players. That streak will continue into the summer most likely.
The Bulls did not make a deal by the NBA Trade Deadline Thursday afternoon. It's a sign they will roll into the second half of this season with the core players they have in DeMar DeRozan, Coby White, Nikola Vucevic and Alex Caruso.
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas spoke with the media on Thursday, addressing the reasons why. First and foremost, Karnišovas stressed the Bulls are going to stay competitive.
"The last time with the few of you I spoke when we were 4-15, I was not very happy," Karnišovas said. "I'm much happier now. I would like to smile more, but again this team is very competitive in every game. And we have aspirations to compete for the playoffs."
Here are three takeaways from Artūras Karnišovas' press conference Thursday as the Bulls stand pat at the trade deadline.
The Bulls didn't make trades for one singular reason
When considering a trade, Karnišovas did not want to take a step back. Not even a slight one.
That's why, when surveying all the Bulls options and offers, Karnišovas decided to stand pat.
"We didn’t see anything that would make us better," he said.
The Bulls are 24-27 and are currently in the top 10 of the Eastern Conference standings. This puts them in a prime position for an NBA Play-In Game.
A win there would get the Bulls into the playoffs, but Karnišovas is looking beyond that.
The Bulls are three games out of sixth place in the East. There's ample time to make up that ground, in his eyes.
"I'm looking forward to watch these players compete with 30 games to go," Karnišovas said. A lot of positive signs I've seen during the season."
He believes the Bulls can be competitive
There are a few reasons why Karnišovas sees a competitive nature in the current Bulls, even if fans disagree.
He's pointed to growth he's seen this season as a result of that competitive nature. Karnišovas pointed to Coby White's emergence as a high-level scoring player. He also pointed to Ayo Dosunmu's growth as a player who impressed in the month of January.
The team has hovered around .500 all season, sitting three games under .500 right now. Karnišovas can see that record flipping with what he's seen this season.
"This team is very competitive in every game," Karnišovas said. "We have every aspiration to compete for the playoffs."
Even after the Bulls started the season 4-15, the objective has not changed. It's one of the reasons why the team decided not to trade an asset or two away, even if it meant a better record next season.
Karnišovas said he does have the ownership support to make whatever decision he deems the right course of action for the franchise. That course of action is to continue fighting for the playoffs.
"We're going for the playoffs," Karnišovas said. "If we end up being a play-in or straight-out as as a playoff team, we'll see. But this is what the group objective is right now: to make the playoffs."
Any hard-looking evaluation starts after 30 games
With the Bulls continuing with the current structure they have now, that answers one question surrounding this season: is anyone coming or going?
That question is now delayed until the end of the season.
Then, the Bulls will be faced with the question of if they're successful or not, or competitive or not. In Karnišovas' eyes, that question is answered later.
"We can comment on that in 30 games," Karnišovas said. "It's a result-driven business. And I get it and I'll take responsibility for failures."
There are nuggets of insight Karnišovas had. He wants DeMar DeRozan back on the roster. In a perfect world, Lonzo Ball is playing for the Bulls next year. Players like White and Dosunmu keep improving. Some of these topics will be addressed this offseason.
Whatever happens then, however, does not affect what happens now.
"At this point it's very early to say, what is success? What's not success?" Karnišovas said. "We have 30 games to go, we'll see what this team can do."