The Bucks’ general manager search, conducted after John Hammond‘s departure for Orlando, appeared to take some unexpected twists and turns throughout the process — the club reportedly narrowed its options to three candidates, then opted to promote Jon Horst, who hadn’t been one of those three finalists.
In an interesting piece for ESPN.com, Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe detail the machinations behind Horst’s promotion, which caught even Horst himself off guard. Sources tell Windhorst and Lowe that the GM job was already earmarked for him when he was called to New York to meet with team ownership, even before he knew he was viewed as a candidate. The Bucks then began planning Horst’s introductory news conference before he signed his deal.
Here are more of the highlights from ESPN’s report on the Bucks’ unique search:
- Bucks assistant GM Justin Zanik, who has since left the organization, was considered Hammond’s successor when he joined the franchise and had built a good relationship with head coach Jason Kidd. Although his contract didn’t explicitly state he’d replace Hammond, his annual salary reflected an anticipated increase in his decision-making power, per ESPN. However, only two of Milwaukee’s three co-owners were on board with a promotion for Zanik — Wes Edens was the holdout, and wanted to conduct a full-fledged search, according to Windhorst and Lowe.
- After going through their search process, Edens still wasn’t sold on Zanik. He was outnumbered 2-1 by co-owners Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan, but Edens is technically the Bucks’ designated governor, which gives him unilateral power on all basketball-related decisions if he chooses to wield it, per ESPN.
- The three co-owners had previously agreed to settle all decisions with a vote, but this situation revealed that Edens ultimately could have the final say, even if he was outnumbered. In two years, that will change, however — the Bucks’ ownership agreement calls for the governorship role to alternate between Edens and Lasry every five years, per ESPN.
- With the search for a new GM having stalled, commissioner Adam Silver suggested the Bucks ought to consider Danny Ferry for the opening, according to ESPN. Milwaukee reached out to Ferry, but the two sides never had a formal meeting, with the Bucks’ co-owners opting instead to reach a compromise — they all liked and respected Horst, and brokered an agreement to promote him for the role.
- Horst will be inexpensive compared to other general managers around the NBA. According to Windhorst and Lowe, his three-year deal starts at just $500K.
- The Bucks continue to seek a veteran executive to complement Horst in the front office, though the three co-owners will likely all have to agree to move forward with a hire.