CHICAGO – Over the course of the regular season, the Bulls found a way to put themselves back in the conversation in the National Basketball Association.
It was a very up-and-down campaign, but they were able to make it into the playoffs for the first time in five years and raised the level of excitement for a fan base that was downtrodden after a few difficult years.
Because of that, there was a thought that a few members of the team could be in the running for some postseason awards, especially the man who helped to build back the Bulls over the course of two years.
In the end, Arturas Karnisovas would have to settle for the runner-up spot for NBA Executive of the Year.
The Bulls’ executive vice president finished in a tie for second place in the voting that was released on Thursday, with Grizzlies’ general manager and executive VP Zach Kleiman taking home the award. Karnisovas finished even with Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman.
In the voting, the Bulls’ executive VP finished with one first place vote, six second place votes, and four for third place.
Taking over for John Paxson, who stepped down in April of 2020, Karnisovas undertook the job of building the Bulls back to relevancy along with general manager Marc Eversley. Instead of engaging in a rebuild through the draft, the new executive VP decided to bolster the roster under emerging star Zach LaVine with veteran players.
At the 2021 trade deadline, Karnisovas surprised many when he acquired two-time All-Star center Nikola Vucevic in a deal that included two first round picks and Bulls’ 2018 first round selection Wendell Carter Jr. During the offseason, he also made deals to acquire guards Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan in “Sign-and-Trades” while also signing guard Alex Caruso in free agency.
Along with a few other additions, the Bulls had a quick start to the 2021-2022 season and were tied for first in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star Break. With Ball out of the lineup for the second half of the season along with stiffer competition, the team slumped at the end of the year, finishing 46-36 and with the sixth-seed in the Eastern Conference.
In their first round series with the Bucks, the Bulls split the first two games in Milwaukee but would lose the next three by double-digits as they were eliminated in five games.