Wes Wilcox

Pistons Notes: Prince, GM Candidates, Offseason

As the Pistons get their search for a general manager underway, Eric Woodyard of ESPN (Twitter link) hears from multiple sources that the team hasn’t requested to interview Tayshaun Prince. Currently the VP of basketball affairs for the Grizzlies, Prince was part of Detroit’s 2004 championship team and there was speculation he’d be a GM candidate, but he wasn’t on the team’s initial interview list, according to Woodyard.

As for candidates who might actually be on the Pistons’ list, sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link) that former Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough, former Atlanta GM Wes Wilcox, and current Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes are among those receiving some consideration. However, Bondy cautions that the search will likely be “extensive,” so that list is far from exhaustive.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • With the Pistons’ season on the verge of coming to an end, Rod Beard of The Detroit News takes a player-by-player look at some of the offseason decisions facing the franchise. Only Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya have fully guaranteed salaries for next season, though as Beard notes, it’s a safe bet that a few other players will be back.
  • In his latest mailbag, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com addresses the timeline for the Pistons’ GM search and how the team will handle not being part of the NBA’s resumption, among other topics.
  • Earlier this afternoon, we passed along word that the Pistons are becoming the 29th of 30 NBA teams to reopen their practice facility for individual player workouts — they’ll do so on Thursday.

Pistons Notes: GM Search, Kennard, Bone

The Pistons will focus on external candidates in their search for a new general manager, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The new GM will work alongside senior advisor Ed Stefanski to chart a course for the future of the franchise, while Malik Rose and Pat Garrity will be retained as assistant GMs.

Edwards identifies several potential candidates for the position: Pelicans assistant GM Bryson Graham, former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, Jazz GM Justin Zanik, Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes, who was considered for the GM job in Chicago, and Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver. Edwards also suggests that University of Memphis assistant coach Mike Miller, who had Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem as an agent during his playing career, could be brought in as another assistant GM.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News agrees on Hughes and Weaver and offers a few other candidates who might be in play. Shane Battier grew up in the Detroit area and serves as VP of basketball development and analytics with the Heat, but Beard believes it would be difficult to talk him into leaving Miami. Chauncey Billups is a Pistons hero from his playing days and has been considered for other front office openings. Tayshaun Prince, who teamed with Billups on the 2004 championship team, became VP of basketball operations for the Grizzlies last year. Celtics assistant GM Michael Zarren has spent 14 years with the organization and has turned down other opportunities, but Beard believes the Pistons should contact him.
  • Working Luke Kennard back into the rotation would have been a priority if the season had continued, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Kennard, who had been battling tendinitis in both knees since December, was set to return in the Pistons’ next game when the hiatus was imposed. With Kennard about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, Detroit will have to decide soon whether to make a long-term commitment or try to trade him, and Langlois sees his shooting skills as an important element for a rebuilding team.
  • The Pistons may have other priorities at point guard that will prevent Jordan Bone from earning a roster spot next season, Langlois adds in the same piece. Derrick Rose has another year on his contract, and Langlois expects the team to find a veteran to complement him. Also, there will also be plenty of opportunity to fill the position in a draft that’s heavy on point guards. Bone saw limited time in 10 NBA games as a two-way player this season, but averaged 19.9 points per 36 minutes and shot 38% from 3-point range in the G League.

Bulls Interview Wilcox, Ferry For Front Office Job

After talking to Jazz general manager Justin Zanik and Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls have touched base with a couple more candidates for their open front office position.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox – who now works as an NBA TV analyst – has interviewed for Chicago’s executive VP of basketball operations job. Meanwhle, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports (via Twitter) that former Cavaliers and Hawks GM Danny Ferry has also interviewed with the Bulls.

Up until now, reports on the Bulls’ search had identified only current front office executives as targets, with Magic assistant GM Matt Lloyd and Clippers executives Michael Winger and Trent Redden among the other candidates said to be on Chicago’s radar. This afternoon’s reports suggest the Bulls are looking beyond current team execs.

Wilcox, who was originally hired by the Hawks as an assistant general manager back in 2012, took over as the team’s GM in 2015 and served in that position for two years before the team revamped its front office in 2017. During his time in the club’s front office, Atlanta was a perennial playoff team, winning a franchise-record 60 games in 2014/15. The club entered a rebuilding process at the time of his departure.

Wilcox took the reins in Atlanta from Ferry, who was let go after reading an offensive comment from a scouting report on Luol Deng aloud during a conference call. Before his time with the Hawks, Ferry was the Cavs’ head of basketball operations from 2005 to 2010, guiding the team to five postseason berths and an NBA Finals appearance during that stint. Most recently, Ferry replaced Dell Demps as New Orleans’ interim GM last winter, but didn’t remain with the Pelicans when the team hired David Griffin in the spring.

Interestingly, three of the four candidates known to have interviewed with the Bulls – Zanik, Karnisovas, and Wilcox – are the same three executives who were said to be finalists for the Bucks’ general manager job during the summer of 2017. Milwaukee eventually changed course and instead promoted Jon Horst to the position.

While it’s possible one of those three – or Ferry – will win out this time around and be hired by the Bulls, there’s no indication that the club is done interviewing candidates. Before Wilcox’s and Ferry’s interviews were reported, Karnisovas was said to be the frontrunner for the job.

[UPDATE: The Bulls have also interviewed Bryan Colangelo]

Bucks Notes: GM Search, Workouts, MECCA, D-League

Whoever is hired as the next Bucks’ GM isn’t expected to bring significant changes to the organization, writes Gery Woelfel of WoelfelsPressBox.com. After the departure of John Hammond to become GM in Orlando, the only person from Milwaukee’s front office likely to join him is Jon Horst, who served as director of basketball operations. The Bucks originally opposed letting Horst leave, but now the move is considered a formality. Billy McKinney, who serves as vice president of scouting, was rumored to join Hammond but now is expected to stay in Milwaukee. The rest of the front office remains intact, including assistant GM Justin Zanik, who was one of three finalists announced this week.

There’s more today out of Milwaukee:

  • Holding the 17th pick, the Bucks haven’t been able to secure workouts with potential targets Luke Kennard and Harry Giles of Duke, Woelfel notes in the same piece. Kennard worked out today for the Pistons, who have the 12th pick, and has upcoming sessions with the Magic (6), Knicks (8), Mavericks (9) and Hornets (11). Giles’ workout schedule includes the Pistons, Heat (14), Bulls (16) and Pacers, who will pick after the Bucks at No. 18.
  • Hawks advisor and former GM Wes Wilcox made a strong impression in his interview Friday and may be the front-runner for the Bucks’ GM job, according to Woelfel (Twitter link). Along with Zanik, Nuggets assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas is the other finalist for the position.
  • As part of their 50th anniversary celebration, the Bucks will play a regular season game at the MECCA, the team announced today on its website. Now called UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, the building served as the Bucks’ home from their creation in 1968 until 1988. “It’s going to be such a unique and special occasion for our current players to take the court at the MECCA and for our fans to experience the early era of the Bucks,” said team president Peter Feigin.
  • The Bucks’ new D-League team will be called the Wisconsin Herd, according to a release from the team. The Herd will debut in November and will be based in Oshkosh.

Bucks Narrow GM Search To Three Finalists

After conducting a “broad” search for a new general manager, the Bucks have narrowed their group of candidates down to three finalists, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. According to Wojnarowski, Nuggets assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas, Hawks advisor Wes Wilcox, and Bucks assistant GM Justin Zanik have emerged as the top contenders for the position.

The Bucks conducted a round of interviews in New York this week, and will now bring Karnisovas and Wilcox to Milwaukee for additional meetings with team officials, per Wojnarowski. Zanik is already in Milwaukee, having been tasked with making draft preparations for the franchise in the wake of former GM John Hammond‘s departure.

According to previous reports, the Bucks had also been considering Pacers president of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie, Grizzlies VP of player personnel Ed Stefanski, Pistons associate GM Pat Garrity and Heat assistant GM Adam Simon, Blazers assistant GM Bill Branch, and Timberwolves assistant GM Noah Croom, among others. However, it appears those execs are no longer in the running.

As Wojnarowski details, there is “strong internal staff support” within the Bucks organization for the team to simply promote Zanik. Co-owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, as well as Jamie Dinan, are heavily involved in the process though, and have differing opinions on the best candidates for the job, as Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times writes.

Woelfel’s report, which was published before Wojnarowski, cited sources who said that Zanik and Karnisovas are “held in high regard” by Bucks ownership.

Latest On Bucks’ GM Search

Milwaukee will begin formal interviews for its open GM position on Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports.

The team has been granted permission to speak with Blazer assistant GM Bill Branch, Heat assistant GM Adam Simon, and Pistons assistant GM Pat Garrity, according to Wojnarowski.

The scribe adds that the Bucks have reached out to the Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon about the opening. Hammon has been working under coach Gregg Popovich for three seasons.

Milwaukee previously reached out to Indiana and gained permission to speak with the team’s VP of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie. Wojnarowski adds that the franchise also has permission to speak with Denver assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas, Grizzlies VP of player personnel Ed Stefanski and Hawks special advisor Wes Wilcox.

Justin Zanik, who is currently running the team as its assistant GM, remains a strong candidate for the position. Zanik is gathering “significant support” inside and outside the organization, Wojnarowski writes. He joined the team with the expectation that he would be the GM-in-waiting once John Hammond‘s contract expired. Hammond recently left the franchise to become Orlando’s GM.

Bucks Receive Permission To Interview GM Candidates

12:06pm: ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter links) provides an additional update on the Bucks’ GM search, noting that there’s still one GM candidate that the team hasn’t been given permission to interview. As was the case when Atlanta and Orlando expressed interest, the Cavs still aren’t granting permission to speak to David Griffin during the playoffs.

We heard last week that Cavaliers GM David Griffin, a popular target this spring for teams seeking a top basketball exec, is among the names on Milwaukee’s wish list.

11:35am: With John Hammond headed to Orlando, the Bucks’ search for a new general manager is underway. And according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Milwaukee has requested and received permission to speak to a handful of candidates about the open position.

The Bucks are eyeing Pacers president of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie, Nuggets assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas, Grizzlies VP of player personnel Ed Stefanski, and Hawks advisor Wes Wilcox, league sources inform Wojnarowski. Each of those four clubs has given Milwaukee permission to interview their respective execs.

According to Wojnarowski, Dinwiddie and Karnisovas have become two of the NBA’s “most respected” young executives. Wilcox and Stefanski are veteran execs — Wilcox was recently removed from Atlanta’s GM role, while Stefanski has a history with Bucks consultant Rod Thorn, having worked with him in New Jersey.

Although assistant GM Justin Zanik is currently running day-to-day operations for the Bucks, and is said to be a strong candidate to replace Hammond in the permanent GM role, the team is reportedly conducting a “broad” search for its new head of basketball operations.

Latest On Hawks’ Front Office Search

The Hawks placed former team president Mike Budenholzer and former GM Wes Wilcox into new roles earlier this month and it appears the team’s search for new front office members is progressing out of its “infancy stage.” 

Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link) hears that Sacramento’s Scott Perry is being considered for the open GM position. The Kings hired Perry as their executive VP of basketball operations less than four weeks ago.

Earlier today, we learned that the Knicks have granted the team permission to interview their Director of Player Personnel Mark Hughes for the Hawks’ open GM position. Like New York, Houston will allow Atlanta to interview a member of its front office. The Hawks have their eye on Rockets VP of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas.

Atlanta is reportedly also considering Cavs GM David Griffin and Joe Dumars. The team also plans on discussing the position with TV analysts Chauncey Billups and Brent Barry.

Hawks Rumors: Millsap, Wilcox, Front Office

It was a “poorly-kept secret” in NBA circles that Wes Wilcox and Mike Budenholzer haven’t seen eye-to-eye on the Hawks’ direction in recent years, according to TNT’s David Aldridge. In his latest Morning Tip column on NBA.com, Aldridge takes a deep dive on the Hawks and the “philosophical” differences between Wilcox and Budenholzer, citing one source who referred to the front office situation as “a Game of Thrones kind of thing.”

According to Aldridge’s sources, Wilcox was in favor of trading Paul Millsap earlier this year and going all-in on an Atlanta rebuild, but Budenholzer – who retained final say on the team’s personnel moves at the time – nixed that idea.

[RELATED: David Griffin, Joe Dumars, Troy Weaver on Hawks’ radar?]

Although Hawks owner Tony Ressler – in a conversation with Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – dismissed the notion that Budenholzer and Wilcox couldn’t work together, both men were re-assigned last week to roles that reduce their influence within the basketball operations department. Budenholzer is no longer the president of basketball ops, while Wilcox is no longer the Hawks’ GM.

Here’s more out of Atlanta:

  • No matter who the Hawks hire as their next GM, Millsap is expected to negotiate directly with Ressler this offseason, per Aldridge. And Atlanta will do everything it can to re-sign the All-Star big man. “There’s no disagreement on whether we’re going to try and keep him, and whether he’s great for the Atlanta Hawks,” Ressler said of Millsap.
  • While Millsap has publicly expressed a desire to remain with the Hawks, there are “rumblings about what he really thought about this season,” according to Aldridge, who writes that “there was unhappiness among some with a lack of accountability for other players who consistently made mistakes on the floor.”
  • Said one Hawks source to Aldridge: “We had guys out there doing (stuff) they had no business doing.”
  • Some members of the Hawks were also confused about why Thabo Sefolosha fell out of the club’s rotation in the playoffs, says Aldridge.
  • Ressler is serious about continuing to listen to Wes Wilcox‘s input as the former GM moves to a new advisory role, per Aldridge. The Hawks owner will also listen to input from execs like assistant GM Jeff Peterson and director of player personnel John Treloar, who were hired by Wilcox.
  • Wilcox is negotiating a new contract with the Hawks as he transitions to his new role, according to Aldridge, who notes that the deal will have offset protection for the franchise in case Wilcox finds a job with another team.
  • With free agency looming, Millsap still feels like he can improve as a player, as KL Chouinard of Hawks.com details.

Hawks To Retain Wilcox; Budenholzer To Relinquish President Title

MAY 5, 8:32am: Speaking to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hawks owner Tony Ressler has confirmed the changes reported below. According to Ressler, Wilcox will serve as a special advisor to team ownership going forward, and the search has begun for a new general manager to head the basketball operations department.

MAY 4, 4:21pm: Although a report on Wednesday indicated that the Hawks were set to part ways with Wes Wilcox, the general manager will remain with the franchise in a high-ranking front office role after all, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. However, Atlanta’s front office will still be undergoing some changes.Mike Budenholzer vertical

According to Wojnarowski, Mike Budenholzer will relinquish his title as the Hawks’ president of basketball operations. Budenholzer will remain the club’s head coach, and will still have a say in personnel decisions, but he will no longer oversee the basketball operations department. Instead, Atlanta will seek out a new president of basketball operations, per Wojnarowski.

Since June 30, 2015, Budenholzer had been the team’s president of basketball operations, in addition to the head coach. In that faculty, Budenholzer had the final say in all basketball matters. Budenholzer has been the Hawks’ head coach since the end of 2013 playoffs. Prior to taking the head coaching job in Atlanta, Coach Bud was an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich with the Spurs.

As we discussed on Wednesday, there are now only four men in the NBA who possess both head coach and president of basketball operations titles: Doc Rivers with the Clippers, Stan Van Gundy in Detroit, Tom Thibodeau with the Timberwolves, and Popovich in San Antonio.

The Hawks just completed a 43-39 season, in which they finished as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and were eliminated in the first round by the Wizards. Atlanta has made the playoffs in ten consecutive seasons.

On Tuesday, the Magic began their interview process for president of basketball operations, with names such as Kevin McHale and Cavaliers GM David Griffin topping their wish list. Orlando is the only team besides Atlanta currently seeking a president of basketball operations. In the coming days, it will likely become apparent whether the Hawks will pursue the Magic’s candidates for their own vacant post.

Minority owner Grant Hill will play a key role in the search process, but has currently shown no interest in moving to operations full-time, Woj reports.

Joshua Fischman contributed to this story. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.