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Arturas Karnisovas vows to make changes after Chicago Bulls miss the playoffs for the second straight season

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas fell on his sword and vowed to make changes after the team he built missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

He said he takes “full responsibility” and vowed to be creative in reworking the squad despite not having salary cap space. He would like to re-sign DeMar DeRozan and plans to bring back coach Billy Donovan. But he struck a very different tone on Saturday after a knockout loss to the Miami Heat in the play-in tournament, having opted for continuity over change in recent years.

“I’m thinking about winning,” Karnisovas said. “That’s why I’m here. I’m not here to stay in the middle. The formula that emerged three years ago, I thought it worked until a few injuries. And we’re going to have to find these answers in the offseason. Obviously the results are not where we want them to be. And it’s up to me to find out.

The Bulls went 39-43 and were eliminated by Miami for the second straight year in a blowout loss on Friday, even though the Heat were missing injured star Jimmy Butler. Chicago missed the playoffs for the third time in four seasons under Karnisovas and Donovan.

Karnisovas gave his coach a strong endorsement, saying it is the management’s job to provide the coach with the right personnel.

“He’s obviously a great leader and a great coach,” he said. ‘I have to do my best to help him, to find a group. We emphasized cohesion this year, and I think this group has built some kind of bond. Again, overall it didn’t work. And I need to find these answers.

A team built around DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic has not produced the way the Bulls had hoped in recent years. Lonzo Ball hasn’t played since Jan. 14, 2022, due to a left knee injury, and Chicago hasn’t been the same without the point guard.

LaVine played in just 25 games this year before undergoing season-ending foot surgery. The two-time All-Star signed a five-year extension worth $215.16 million after the 2021-22 season and has been the subject of trade speculation.

Vucevic is signing through the 2025-2026 season after agreeing to a three-year, $60 million extension last June and avoiding free agency.

“I’m going to look at the totality of this group,” Karnisovas said. “This group has not worked. There are a lot of great things in certain individual players and a lot of young boys who have taken a step forward and that is positive. But overall, it didn’t work as a group, so I’ll have to find these answers in the offseason.

Karnisovas insisted he has “complete confidence” in his front office and has no plans to make any changes. He also said he still has the support of Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and CEO Michael Reinsdorf. But he acknowledged that results need to improve.

“I have to do my job better,” he said. “It’s my responsibility. This program is my responsibility. Jerry and Michael have been very supportive. Clearly their expectation is better results. That’s why, coming into this offseason, I focused on turning this program around.” ___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA