The sides were finalizing contractual details on a multiyear deal late Wednesday night, after offering the job to Karnisovas shortly after completing a second-round of interviews, sources said.
Karnisovas, 48, will replace John Paxson, who has been running the Bulls basketball operations since 2003. He will be tasked with hiring a new general manager and reshaping the totality of an organization that has failed to reach the postseason the past two seasons.
The Bulls were taken with Karnisovas’ history for talent evaluation and strong endorsements from Nuggets governor Josh Kroenke and president of basketball operations Tim Connelly about his leadership, organization and ability to structure operations, sources said.
Karnisovas had a lengthy virtual interview with Bulls chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf — who’s leading the search — on Tuesday, sources said. On Wednesday, Michael Reinsdorf introduced Karnisovas to his father, Jerry, for additional discussions and got the blessing to offer Karnisovas the job.
Reinsdorf completed an initial round of virtual meetings on Wednesday after an interview former Atlanta Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, sources said.
Karnisovas’ diverse background in the game had captured the Bulls attention from the start of this process, including his role in building the Nuggets into a contender with Connelly and Kroenke. The Nuggets’ draft success has included All-NBA center Nikola Jokic, guards Jamal Murray and Gary Harris and former center Jusuf Nurkic.
Karnisovas had stops with the Houston Rockets‘ front office and league office and a decorated EuroLeague and Olympic-medal winning playing career. Karnisovas, a native of Lithuania, left home as a teenager to play college basketball at Seton Hall.
Karnisovas will be asked to reshape the Bulls’ front office, including hiring a new general manager and additional basketball operations and scouting positions, sources said.
Paxson is expected to move into an advisory role and there will be discussions with GM Gar Forman about his future with the organization too, sources said.