Justin Zanik

Northwest Notes: Hood, Millsap, Zanik, Jazz

An MRI on Trail Blazers guard Rodney Hood‘s left knee showed no structural damage and he’ll be listed as day-to-day for the Western Conference Finals, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Hood suffered a bone bruise when he ran into a pick set by the Nuggets’ Torrey Craig during Portland’s Game 7 victory on Sunday. Hood, who enters unrestricted free agency this summer, was a major factor off the bench in the series against the Nuggets. He averaged 14.7 PPG in the conference semifinals.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Veteran forward Paul Millsap is intent on helping a team win a championship, whether it’s the Nuggets or another contending franchise, as he told Mike Singer of the Denver Post. The team holds a $30MM option on Millsap’s contract for next season. “We’ve proved everybody wrong,” the 34-year-old Millsap said. “For me, not really trying to prove everybody wrong, but prove to myself that I can do it my way and still win. I can do it with whoever I want to do it with. It ain’t got to be the Golden State Warriors of the Lakers or whatever. I can help a young, talented team reach that goal.”
  • New Jazz GM Justin Zanik believes that continuity within the organization will get it to the next level, as he told Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News. Zanik was promoted from assistant GM last week. “We have a very experienced front office and we know what we need to do,” he said, “so however we get that done, we’re going to do it together and continue to just keep pushing forward with the Jazz to keep us on this championship-competitive path.”
  • Zanik’s promotion, as well as the elevation of Dennis Lindsey to executive VP of basketball operations, doesn’t mean big changes are on the way, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune writes.

Jazz Rework Front Office, Promote Lindsey, Zanik

1:50pm: The Jazz have officially confirmed Lindsey’s and Zanik’s promotions.

1:36pm: The Jazz are making some changes to their front office structure, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that longtime general manager Dennis Lindsey will be promoted to executive vice president of basketball operations. An official announcement is expected from the team as soon as Friday.

With Lindsey vacating the general manager job, assistant GM Justin Zanik will be elevated to that position, per Wojnarowski.

While Lindsey had already been the team’s de facto head of basketball operations, it’s becoming increasingly common for NBA teams to assign a title besides general manager to that top executive. Zanik, Utah’s new GM, will now be responsible for day-to-day duties and running basketball operations, while Lindsey will assume a “broader, strategic and leadership role,” sources tell Woj.

Based on Wojnarowski’s report, it’s not clear if the Jazz will add any new executives to the front office or promote anyone to fill Zanik’s assistant GM role. However, the promotions may help Utah keep its management group in place going forward — Zanik has been considered for other top front office jobs around the NBA before, but might be less inclined to leave the Jazz after being promoted to GM.

Wizards Notes: GM Search, Wall, Ariza

The Wizards will be vying this spring with the Suns, Pelicans, and possibly the Timberwolves for general manager candidates. And while Washington may not have the promising cap outlook or collection of young players out of those teams, it still may be considered the best opportunity for GM hopefuls, writes Ben Golliver of The Washington Post.

“We really care about two things: Is the boss invested in his team, and will he prove it by spending the money we ask him to spend?” one longtime executive said to Golliver. “(Wizards owner) Ted (Leonsis) is two-for-two. He won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals. He paid John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Ian Mahinmi. He paid Andray Blatche and then paid him to go away. What more could you want?”

Leonsis says there’s no list of candidates yet to replace former president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld, but league executives tell Golliver that the search figures to include “past and present top decision-makers, as well as up-and-coming executives.” Besides some of the names already mentioned as candidates, Golliver identifies Thunder vice president Troy Weaver and Jazz assistant GM Justin Zanik as a couple more options for the Wizards.

Here’s more out of D.C.:

  • Firing Grunfeld was the right move, but the Wizards did it for the wrong reasons, contends Tom Ziller of SBNation.com. In a separate article for The Washington Post, Golliver writes that a number of Grunfeld’s personnel missteps continue to loom large over the franchise.
  • While head coach Scott Brooks is expected to return for the 2019/20 season, he acknowledges that it could be a difficult year of transition for the Wizards. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for the next general manger to come in and shape the team,” Brooks said, per Lisa Redmond of NBC Sports Washington. “… We have five players and plus a first-round pick coming up and so it’s going to be a very important summer with John (Wall) being out. You know, we have to be very creative. Not going to make an excuse that it’s going to be a tough year, but it’s going to be a challenging year.”
  • Speaking of Wall, even though his Achilles injury is bad news for the Wizards, there’s a possible silver lining, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. As Buckner outlines, the franchise will only be on the hook for 20% of Wall’s 2019/20 salary until he returns to the court, with insurance picking up the other 80%. Of course, Wall’s full super-max salary (projected to be worth $37.8MM) will still count against the cap.
  • Wizards forward Trevor Ariza is likely done for the season due to his groin injury, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The team has previously expressed interest in retaining Ariza – an unrestricted free agent this summer – beyond this season, but it’s not clear how the front office shakeup will affect the veteran.

Zanik, Rosas Receive Second Interviews For Sixers’ Post

Jazz assistant GM Justin Zanik and Rockets VP Gersson Rosas have earned second interviews for the Sixers’ GM opening, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

Philadelphia’s ownership group dined with Zanik on Sunday and will do the same with Rosas on Monday. The ownership group will also hold second interviews with internal candidates on Thursday and Friday, Pompey adds in another tweet. The news was confirmed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Warriors assistant GM and director of player personnel Larry Harris was also recently interviewed for the vacancy, though there’s no indication if he’ll receive another interview.

Some of the internal candidates for the job who were reportedly interviewed this month include former Sixers player Elton Brand, Marc Eversley, Ned Cohen and Alex Rucker.

The organization has been operating without a GM since Bryan Colangelo departed in June amid charges of releasing sensitive information on Twitter.

The Sixers initially targeted big-name NBA GMs and presidents like Rockets GM Daryl Morey, but have since cast a wider net, focusing more on executives who would view the Philadelphia job as a promotion rather than a lateral move.

Sixers Receive Permission To Interview Three GM Candidates

The Sixers have been granted permission to interview three candidates for their open general manager position, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, Larry Harris (Warriors), Gersson Rosas (Rockets), and Justin Zanik (Jazz) are among Philadelphia’s potential targets. Team ownership intends to start meeting with candidates next week, league sources tell ESPN.

An assistant GM and director of player personnel for the Warriors, Harris previously spent nearly two decades with the Bucks, serving as Milwaukee’s general manager from 2003 to 2008. He headed to Golden State for the 2008/09 season, initially serving as an assistant coach before moving to the team’s front office.

Rosas has spent the better part of two decades with the Rockets and is currently the executive vice president of basketball operations for the team. A close associate of general manager Daryl Morey, Rosas had a brief stint as the Mavericks’ general manager in 2013 but returned to Houston shortly thereafter. He was reportedly considered for front office openings in Charlotte and Detroit earlier this year.

Zanik, who held an assistant general manager position with the Jazz until 2016, left to join the Bucks at that time. Milwaukee appeared to be grooming Zanik as the eventual replacement for general manager John Hammond, but the club passed over him last summer following an unusual GM search, opting to promote Jon Horst instead. Zanik left the franchise in the wake of that decision, returning to Utah in his old assistant GM role.

Following the dismissal of Bryan Colangelo in Philadelphia, the Sixers initially targeted big-name NBA GMs and presidents like Morey, but have since cast a wider net, focusing more on executives who would view the Philadelphia job as a promotion rather than a lateral move.

Team owner Josh Harris recently said that the 76ers want to make sure they find a perfect fit, and would be content leaving their interim structure in place if necessary. Head coach Brett Brown is currently serving as the club’s interim president of basketball operations, though he has plenty of help in the front office — Ned Cohen, Marc Eversley, and Elton Brand were among those receiving promotions this week.

Jazz Add David Morway, Justin Zanik To Front Office

The Jazz have issued a press release announcing a handful of changes to their front office, confirming that they’ve hired David Morway and Justin Zanik as assistant general managers. The club also promoted Steven Schwartz to director of basketball operations.

Utah’s agreements with Morway and Zanik were initially reported earlier this summer by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Morway has nearly two decades of experience in NBA front office, having originally joined the Pacers in 1999. He was promoted to general manager by Indiana in 2008 and spent four years in that position before resigning. He subsequently joined the Bucks as an assistant general manager and then spent the 2016/17 season as a basketball operations consultant for the Jazz.

As for Zanik, his return to Utah represents a reunion for him and the Jazz — Zanik held an assistant general manager position with the franchise until 2016, when he left to join the Bucks. Milwaukee appeared to be grooming Zanik as the eventual replacement for general manager John Hammond, but the club passed over him earlier this summer following an unusual GM search, opting to promote Jon Horst instead. Zanik left the franchise in the wake of that decision.

Morway and Zanik will work under GM Dennis Lindsey in Utah’s revamped front office.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Crawford, Singler, OKC

Russell Westbrook can sign a supermax Designated Veteran Player Exception deal with the Thunder worth over $235MM over six years, which would make him the highest paid player in NBA history. However, money is not the determining factor over Westbrook’s future, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman writes.

For starters, uncertainty surrounding the Thunder’s roster in future seasons makes Westbrook signing a longterm contract uncertain — despite the Thunder being optimistic it will get done. As Horne explains, Westbrook does not have the option to sign another shorter-term pact like he did last year, signing a three-year, $85.7MM extension. As Horne mentions, under the new collective bargaining agreement, Westbrook cannot extend his current deal unless it’s a five-year max: meaning it’s max or nothing.

The reigning Most Valuable Player has set himself up to be paid handsomely — whether it is this offseason or next, when he can hit free agency and pursue other options. Westbrook will earn $28.5MM in 2017/18 but that could prove to be chump change if and when he signs a longterm max deal.

Below are additional notes surrounding the Northwest Division:

  • In separate piece for The Oklahoman, Horne suggests that Kyle Singler may be an optimal candidate for the stretch provision. The 29-year-old has averaged less than four points per game in Oklahoma City in two seasons and is owed $9.66MM over the next two seasons. To save cap space, the stretch provision could stretch out Singler’s salary over seven seasons and open up a roster spot for the Thunder, Horne notes.
  • Once again for the Oklahoman, Horne answers four key questions surrounding the Thunder. Among the burning questions include when 2017 draft pick Terrance Ferguson will sign, if and when the Thunder hires a new assistant coach, if any additional moves will be made, and Westbrook’s aforementioned contract dilemma.
  • Newest member of the Timberwolves, Jamal Crawford, pursued a deal with an up-and-coming contender rather than a perennial championship contender. The 37-year-old briefly spoke to the Star Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda about his decision to sign with Minnesota, stating that it “made sense on every level.”
  • Michael Rand of the Star Tribune looks at five potential free agent signings for Minnesota. On the list are three players who have connections to head coach Tom Thibodeau (C.J. Watson, Mike Dunleavy, and Tony Allen) and two productive veterans (Anthony Morrow and Andrew Bogut).
  • Justin Zanik and David Morway are joining the Jazz as high-ranking front office executives, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Ryan McDonald of Deseret News breaks down the move and provides information on both men and their ties to Utah.

Bucks Notes: Horst, Ownership, Zanik, Ferry

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.

Cavs Rumors: Griffin, LeBron, Butler, Love, Irving

In the wake of David Griffin‘s departure from the Cavaliers, rumors have been swirling about the circumstances that led the two sides to part ways, the deals Griffin was pursuing while he was still employed, and what the Cavs may do now that he’s gone.

We have a ton of Cavs rumors to pass along, so we’ll break them down into sections, focusing on Griffin, the front office, and trade-related reports…

David Griffin:

  • Griffin had become pessimistic about his future in Cleveland during the last few months of the 2016/17 season, and had kept an eye on other job openings around the NBA, according to Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. The ESPN duo suggests Griffin expressed interest in the Magic and Bucks jobs through back-channels, but wasn’t given permission to speak to those teams by owner Dan Gilbert.
  • According to Windhorst and McMenamin, Gilbert occasionally inserted himself into trade talks during Griffin’s tenure as GM, calling another team’s owner directly and derailing Griffin’s plans.
  • Gilbert and Griffin had a long meeting last Friday, which didn’t go well, per Windhorst and McMenamin. Griffin wanted a significant pay raise and a promotion, while Gilbert wanted better communication and more aggression from his GM.
  • LeBron James was “disappointed” by Griffin’s departure, according to TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link). LeBron suggested as much on his own Twitter account, telling Griffin that he appreciated his work for the franchise even if “no one” else did.
  • Griffin was among the NBA’s lowest-paid general managers, per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Previous reports indicated that Griffin was making less than $2MM per year.

Front office:

  • League sources tell ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter link) that former Bucks assistant GM Justin Zanik would be a strong candidate to work in the Cavaliers‘ front office if Chauncey Billups is hired. Zanik left Milwaukee this week after the team passed him over for a GM promotion.
  • LeBron is keeping an open mind about the Cavaliers‘ front office shakeup, according to David Aldridge, who tweets that James is “very serious about structure” and wants to see who the team brings in.

Trade rumors:

  • On Monday, Griffin called several teams about possible trades and told the Bulls he might be able to land a top-five pick if they were willing to trade Jimmy Butler, per Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. According to the ESPN duo, the Cavaliers were making an effort to work out a three-team trade involving Kevin Love and the Suns‘ No. 4 overall pick.
  • Even after Griffin’s departure, talks involving Love remain ongoing and the Cavaliers continue to gauge the status of Jimmy Butler, says Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net (Twitter links).
  • Some Cavaliers players, including LeBron and Kyrie Irving, have reached out to Butler directly to gauge his interest in coming to the Cavs, and those players were encouraged by what they heard, Cleveland sources tell Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. One source tells Cowley that Butler may even push the Bulls front office to get a deal done, though as Cowley notes, that would be a major departure for Butler, who has talked about wanting to remain in Chicago.
  • Multiple teams have spoken to the Cavaliers about Irving, according to Amico, who adds (via Twitter) that Griffin was unwilling to move the star point guard. Cowley notes in his report that Irving has told some of his Team USA teammates that he might be open to a trade if it starts to look like LeBron will leave in 2018, and the Bulls are one team he’d be interested in. I’m extremely skeptical about the idea of an Irving trade — I think things would have to really go downhill in Cleveland following Griffin’s dismissal for that to be a realistic option.

Bucks Officially Name Jon Horst GM

6:34pm: The Bucks have officially announced that Jon Horst will be their new general manager via a press release published on the team’s website.

9:42am: The Bucks are expected to officially announce Horst’s promotion to GM later today, tweets ESPN’s Marc Stein.

8:15am: The Bucks’ general manager search has taken another unexpected turn, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, who reports (via Twitter) that the team is closing in on promoting current director of basketball operations Jon Horst to the GM role. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Milwaukee has been searching in recent days for a veteran basketball executive to pair with Horst in the front office.

After former general manager John Hammond left Milwaukee for Orlando earlier in the offseason, the Bucks conducted an extensive search for his replacement, and had reportedly identified three finalists: Justin Zanik (Bucks assistant GM), Arturas Karnisovas (Nuggets assistant GM), and Wes Wilcox (former Hawks GM).

Zanik and Karnisovas were viewed as the top candidates from that group, but Karnisovas withdrew his name from the process after receiving a promotion in Denver, leaving Zanik as the apparent favorite for the job. However, it appears the Bucks will instead promote another in-house exec, following what Wojnarowski refers to as a “contentious ownership disagreement.”

According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Zanik had the support of co-owner Marc Lasry and head coach Jason Kidd, among others, for the GM job, but a full consensus was required to promote him to that position.

If the Bucks do finalize Horst as the new GM and bring in an outside executive to work with him in the front office, it will be interesting to see whether Zanik remains in Milwaukee, having been passed over for a promotion. Zanik has been leading the club’s draft preparations since Hammond left for the Magic.