MILWAUKEE — He may not have been their first choice, but the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t have to look far to find their next general manager.
The team confirmed on Friday evening that Jon Horst would be the next GM, promoting the 34-year-old from director of player personnel. Horst has been with the Bucks organization since 2008.
It wasn’t exactly a straightforward hire for Milwaukee, who interviewed six candidates on June 5-6 in New York. That field was cut in half and interviewed in Milwaukee the following week. After it appeared the search had come down to Denver Nuggets executive Arturas Karnisovas and interim Bucks GM Justin Zanik, the Nuggets preempted Milwaukee’s next move by promoting him as their general manager.
After Karnisovas withdrew his name from consideration for the Milwaukee job, the feeling around much of the state was that Milwaukee would promote Zanik. That didn’t happen, mainly because of what was perceived to be some disagreement among the ownership group.
“Our No. 1 priority is building a championship-caliber organization and we believe Jon is the right person to be our general manager,” the Bucks’ ownership group said in a statement. “He has been an integral part of basketball operations for the last nine years, and has helped advise us on every major basketball decision since we purchased the team. Jon is very talented, capable, organized and someone we have leaned on for his strategic thinking and ability to execute our vision.”
Horst will be introduced on Monday with a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. Reports suggest the Bucks plan to add a veteran executive to work alongside Horst during the transition.
Several big decisions are looming over the Bucks organization within the next few weeks. The NBA Draft begins on Thursday, which also happens to be the deadline for center Greg Monroe to exercise his nearly $18 million player option for a third year on his contract. Guard Tony Snell also becomes a restricted free agent on July 1.
Amid internal strife, the Milwaukee Bucks apparently have their new general manager.
ESPN’s Mark Stein was the first to report the team would officially announce sometime Friday that they were elevating Jon Horst, their current director of basketball operations, to GM.
Earlier on Friday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ‘The Vertical,’ tweeted there was some “contentious ownership disagreement” over the search for John Hammond’s replacement. While interim GM Justin Zanik had the backing of owner Marc Lasry and coach Jason Kidd, there was no a clear consensus.
Horst has been with Milwaukee since 2008, and there were some reports that suggested that Hammond was considering him for a role with Orlando, where he is now the GM.
Zanik was thought to be the front runner when Hammond left last month, but the team conducted a vast search that has now lasted close to a month. During that time, Zanik has been preparing for the NBA draft, which is less than a week away.
MILWAUKEE — Two weeks after general manager John Hammond left the Milwaukee Bucks for the Orlando Magic, his former team has reportedly narrowed its choices down to three for its next GM.
Arturas Karnisovas (Denver Nuggets, Assistant GM), Wes Wilcox (Atlanta Hawks, Ownership Advisor), and Justin Zanik (Milwaukee Bucks, Interim GM) are the finalists, according to The Vertical. The Bucks held interviews in New York City Monday and Tuesday and will invite Karnisovas and Wilcox to Milwaukee later this week.
Team owners Jamie Dinan, Wes Edens, and Marc Lasry will continue to be involved in the hiring process while Zanik takes care of pre-draft responsibilities. Upon his hire last June, Zanik had received the moniker “GM-in-waiting” but team president Peter Feigin told the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network at the time that’s not true.
Karnisovas was nearly hired to be the next GM in Brooklyn last season, but took an assistant role in Denver under Tim Connelly. A former NBA player, Karnisovas also won two Olympic medals with the Lithuanian team.
Wilcox took over as GM of the Hawks in 2015, leading Atlanta to 48 and 43-win seasons thanks to his roster management. Since then, he’s taken a more hands-off approach as an advisor.
No timetable has been set for when Milwaukee plans to make a hire, but it figures to come this month, with the NBA Draft set for June 22.
MILWAUKEE — Despite initially receiving the moniker “GM-in-waiting,” Justin Zanik will have some competition if he wants to become the next general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Zanik was hired away from the Utah Jazz last summer to work alongside John Hammond, who signed a five-year contract to take over as general manager of the Orlando Magic. In an interview with the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network last June, team president Peter Feigin gushed about Zanik as a “terrific hire,” but never committed to Zanik as Hammond’s replacement.
Hammond signed a contract extension two summers ago, taking him through the 2017-18 season. In the June interview, Feigin expected Hammond to eventually be on the same payment schedule as coach Jason Kidd, which would keep him on board through the 2019-2020 season.
“If you ask the owners, the intention would be that we’re making a commitment long-term…to have a plan and get somewhere in these first three to five seasons [under new ownership],” Feigin said. “…So there’s a plan to keep everyone intact.”
ESPN’s report about the Bucks’ GM search includes a detail stating that Milwaukee’s “special consultant,” Rod Thorn, would lead the way in the hiring process. Thorn cut his teeth in the NBA as a former GM of the Bulls and Nets, where he was responsible for trading for Michael Jordan and Jason Kidd, respectively.
Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond is moving on after all.
A day after the Orlando Magic tabbed Toronto’s Jeff Weltman as their new president of basketball operations – a job Hammond interviewed for – word came that Weltman wanted Hammond to be his general manager and he’s gotten his wish.
The Magic released a statement early Tuesday afternoon announcing the hiring of the 62-year-old Hammond.
“John brings tremendous experience and is a great talent evaluator,” Weltman said in the release. “He has experience in everything from day-to-day operations to player development. He built a great team in Milwaukee, and won a championship while in Detroit. We are very fortunate to have him as part of the Magic family.”
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Hammond’s new deal is for five years.
“We are very excited to join Jeff and be a part of the team in Orlando,” Hammond said in the release. “The Magic are a first-class organization all the way around and we look forward to this tremendous opportunity.”
Hammond had led the Bucks since 2008, and his contract ran through the 2017-’18 season. Wojnarowski reported that Hammond made the move with the blessing of Milwaukee’s ownership.
“I want to thank the ownership in Milwaukee — Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan — for their support and I certainly wish them well,” Hammond said.
Both Stein and Wojnarowski reported Milwaukee will likely turn to assistant general manager Justin Zanik to take over management of the roster. He was hired in the summer of 2016 after three years in the same position with the Utah Jazz.