Bulls: B.J. Armstrong Fits Trending Mold Of Young, Connected First-Time GMs

With the hiring of new Executive Vice President in charge of basketball, Arturas Karnisovas, the Chicago Bulls have set a new course for the franchise.

But for any success to occur from the Karnisovas era, he can’t be a one-man show, and for the Bulls to complete a 180 turn away from the ineptitude of the GarPax era it would help a bunch if they bring in visionaries that are plugged into what players throughout the league want and what organizations need to appeal to those players.

A big part of doing both things is finding people the players can relate to, who’ve been where they’ve been and understand what they prioritize in life and business. The much-publicized ESPN Undefeated report by Marc Spears just before the Bulls’ Karnisovas announcement outlining the frustrations Black executives in the NBA had with the team’s interview process was meaningful and needed, though it may have shot a bit prematurely.

Last Thursday it was revealed that former Bull Nazr Mohammad was interviewed for a potential spot under Karnisovas and Friday, the Bulls welcomed veteran New Orleans executive J.J. Polk, a Black man, into the organization as an assistant General Manager.

As “Hawk” Harrelson was fond of saying, “don’t stop now, boys!”

As stated in ESPN’s report of the Polk hiring, the Bulls could be hiring multiple assistant GMs. Whether there’s a proper GM with subordinates or a just a bunch of AGMs flooding the Bulls offices, its important the team continues its hires along the same standards as they’ve surprisingly exhibited with Karnisovas and Polk — quality, experienced and fresh with ideas that can truly shake up the Advocate Center.

We’ve chosen to prop up two candidates here at WARR Media, you can read our first recommendation here. In this one, WARR Media senior writer and columnist Joshua M. Hicks takes up for the baby-faced assassin of the Bulls’ first three championships, who has since become a well-connected agent who fits the profile of quite a few new front office hires throughout the NBA.

Joshua M. Hicks Pitches B.J. Armstrong

Yeah, we been through this before: beloved ’90s-era Bulls point guard gets his shot to revitalize the franchise and taste once again the sweet championship success he once saw, somehow doing it without cloning 28-year old Michael Jordan at the same time.

Didn’t work out too well for John Paxson, but current NBA agent BJ Armstrong — due to his knowledge of the game, familiarity with both the organization and the NBA league and the notoriety/connections he maintains throughout both — is the man to pair up with Arturas Karnisovas and make us all forget about the disappointing GarPax era.

Familiarity: Championship pedigree will continue to help any potential organizational leader, as a three-time champion Armstrong has that easily. Yet, Armstrong has built himself up just as well in his post-playing days and he fits the current trendy prototype of team execs who come from the world of player representation.

Currently a registered league agent with Wasserman Media Group, Armstrong has dealt with influential current players like Derrick Rose, (who he may even be able to rangle into a reunion with his hometown team) as well as JaVale McGee and Josh Jackson. Armstrong’s overall ability to relate to today’s player while holding the gravitas of success from a legendary era gives multiple dimensions of appeal that neither Paxson or anyone else in his position for the Bulls have ever had before.

Notoriety/Connections: Armstrong is very well connected throughout the NBA. As an agent, he is widely respected and he’s been able to retain quality clientele. Having connections to top talent increases your odds in getting superstars to your city. For Chicago to be a historic franchise and a top market within the country, it should be a no-brainer for a superstar to consider having free agent meetings with the Bulls. Adding Armstrong to the front office can escalate the chances of Chicago being a location top-tier free agents have to consider once again.

Knowledge: Prior to joining Wasserman Media Group, Armstrong was part of the Bulls front office post-retirement as a special adviser (essentially acting as assistant GM) to Jerry Krause. Many believed when Krause stepped down in 2003 that Armstrong would take over the daily operations of the franchise before the team hired Paxson.

Should Paxson had remained in office in an influential manner, it would have been highly unlikely that Armstrong would consider the idea of returning to the team he once won championship within any capacity. But with their expected current hires, the Bulls are showing that they want to move to a revised championship culture. With that being the case they need someone that knows the franchise, has connections to top tier talent and have an idea of what it means to create a modern winning roster. 

Many teams, most recently the Knicks with noted agent Leon Rose becoming their president, are relying on the unique networking skills of player reps to make themselves more player-friendly and fluid organizations that can keep up with trends across the league. The Bulls should be next in line for that by hiring Armstrong, re-doing the mistake they made in 2003 and have had to live with since.

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