Storyline: Bucks Front Office

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The Milwaukee Bucks Basketball Operations department has expanded with the following additions: Milt Newton as Assistant General Manager, David Mincberg as Director of Basketball Strategy, Tony Bollier as Director of Basketball Operations and Ronald Dupree as Scout. The team also named Frank Johnson as Assistant Coach. “Our basketball operations department continues to take shape and I’m very excited about the additions of Milt, David, Tony and Ronald,” said General Manager Jon Horst. “Together they bring a wealth of experience that will serve our organization extremely well. I look forward to working with them as we continue to assemble a championship-caliber organization.”

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When the smoke cleared, the survivor was Horst, the Bucks’ director of basketball operations since 2008, when he moved from Detroit as a Hammond and Joe Dumars protégé. “Jon’s extremely bright, a high character person who stands for what he believes in, and he has a great knowledge of this business at a young age,” Hammond said last week. “You think about how young Jon is, but he’s never done anything else in this workaday world except the NBA. He’s very deserving of the opportunity and I expect him to do extremely well.”

Jon Horst: I never had a schedule in mind. But since I started working in the NBA, I had a dream of ending up on top of a basketball operations and had a goal to run a franchise. My approach has always been to be the best at what you do, in your current role. Excel at it, embrace it, and then when other opportunities present themselves, people will look to you. I’ve done that every step of the way, and I’ve gotten opportunities to advance. Although I’m 34 years old, this is my 13th season working with an NBA team, from starting as an intern all the way to being general manager of a franchise. So, I do have quite a bit of experience in the league.

NBA.com: With all due respect, people will be watching to see if you have the heft to say “no” to Jason Kidd or to the owners who are signing your paycheck. How you address those concerns? JH: Obviously, ownership is ownership. Jason Kidd is our coach. They’re going to be involved in everything we do. But in taking this job, we talked about these things. Ultimately, I’ve been hired to run the basketball operations for the Milwaukee Bucks, to have the final say and to make the final decisions. I’m going to operate as such, and I have their support in doing that. The only way you can really set aside those concerns is by living it every day and watching the transactions unfold.
1 month ago via ESPN

New York Knicks Director of Pro Player Personnel Mark Hughes has interviewed for the Milwaukee Bucks’ assistant general manager opening, per league sources. Hughes, a veteran executive with the Knicks organization since 2007, also interviewed for the Atlanta Hawks GM position earlier in the offseason. He has been one of the key figures in the Knicks’ recent draft success, which includes Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, the recently re-signed Tim Hardaway Jr., Channing Frye and Danilo Gallinari.

The latter has since been a consultant for some NBA teams and now has emerged as a serious candidate for the Milwaukee Bucks’ vacant assistant general manager’s position. Newton, who had been Washington’s vice president of player personnel before working in Minnesota, met with Bucks officials earlier this week in Las Vegas. Among the Bucks’ contingent was recently-hired general manager Jon Horst and head coach Jason Kidd. Newton is one of several individuals under consideration for the assistant GM job, which became vacant when the Bucks fired Justin Zanik.

If there is anyone in the Milwaukee Bucks’ basketball operations who should be dubbed “Mr. Buck,’’ it’s Dave Babcock. Babcock has been with the organization for two decades and has exhibited unfailing loyalty, having passed on several offers from other teams over the years. During his 20-year tenure with the Bucks, Babcock has had several titles, most recently vice president of player personnel. However, sources said Babcock was recently stripped of the title by the Bucks hierarchy and is now a regional scout for the NBA team. He and wife, Dori, are expected to move to Arizona.

Zanik was shown the door as the Milwaukee Bucks assistant general manager last week, shortly after he had been one of the three finalists for the general manager’s position vacated by John Hammond’s departure to Orlando. Now, NBA sources said Monday night that the Bucks have jettisoned several more officials, including Billy McKinney, the team’s longtime director of scouting, and Chris Gilmartin, the team’s director of pro scouting. McKinney, who is well respected in the league, came to the Bucks from Detroit nine years ago from Detroit with Hammond. Prior to that, McKinney also worked in the front office for Chicago and Minnesota.

Jon Horst, 34, might have been a surprise pick to replace Hammond among observers outside the organization. But there was a sense of familiarity when the franchise formally introduced Horst as the new general manager on Monday. “There was a process that we went through. It may seem like a surprising outcome. I’ve been asked that question by other people,” co-owner Wes Edens said as Horst smiled next to him. “At the end of it all, it was never really a surprise for us.”

Justin Zanik has left the Bucks after having once been considered the heir-apparent for the GM job when he arrived from the Utah Jazz a year ago. Edens praised Zanik’s contributions, which included overseeing draft prep in the period between general managers.

“Our No. 1 priority is building a championship-caliber organization and we believe Jon is the right person to be our General Manager,” said Bucks owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan. “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.”

As assistant general manager Justin Zanik is preparing the franchise for the NBA draft, the Milwaukee Bucks continue to reach out to potential general manager candidates and plan to begin formal interviews on Monday, league sources told The Vertical. The Bucks were granted permission to speak with several more GM candidates late this week, including Portland Trail Blazers assistant GM Bill Branch, Miami Heat assistant GM Adam Simon and Detroit Pistons assistant GM Pat Garrity, league sources told The Vertical. Another candidate whom the Bucks have contacted, league sources said: San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon. Hammon has no front-office experience, but has been a behind-the-bench assistant coach under Gregg Popovich for three seasons.

As assistant general manager Justin Zanik is preparing the franchise for the NBA draft, the Milwaukee Bucks continue to reach out to potential general manager candidates and plan to begin formal interviews on Monday, league sources told The Vertical. The Bucks were granted permission to speak with several more GM candidates late this week, including Portland Trail Blazers assistant GM Bill Branch, Miami Heat assistant GM Adam Simon and Detroit Pistons assistant GM Pat Garrity, league sources told The Vertical.

As assistant general manager Justin Zanik has started to operate the Milwaukee Bucks on a day-to-day basis, the franchise was granted permission to speak to several outside front-office executives in its search for a permanent GM, league sources told The Vertical. As a precursor to possible interviews, Milwaukee made calls on Tuesday to inquire about Indiana vice president of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie, Denver assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas, Memphis Grizzlies VP of player personnel Ed Stefanski and Atlanta Hawks special adviser to ownership Wes Wilcox, league sources told The Vertical.

NBA.com: What was is about Giannis that jumped out to you, that you said, “This is really going to translate”? Are there one or two reasons you really believed in him? John Hammond: Loved his length and also loved his skill set. And we also felt that he had the gift of knowing how to play the game. You could see he was very comfortable in the game. He had a good ability to ball. He was basically playing the point-guard position a lot of times for his team. He was getting the rebound and taking it himself on the break. Or sometimes other players would get the rebound, sometimes the smaller players would throw it to him to handle the ball. He was like the point guard for his team. Someone at that size was handling the basketball and along with that had just a really good feel for the game. We always say that feel for the game is one of those things that is almost impossible to teach. It’s just a gift that the player had, and I think that Giannis had that gift.

NBA.com: What about when you were looking at Thon? What popped? This was a guy had a lot of positives around him, but were there one or two things where you said, “Right there. That’s going to work”? JH: We loved his length. We loved his ability to shoot the ball. With the game moving to where it is today, can he be a stretch big? We’re still hoping that Thon can be that player consistently as he moves forward. But more than anything with Thon was then when we had the chance to get to know him, we just fell in love with him as a person. I loved (director of scouting) Billy McKinney’s line on Thon. When Thon left us after the draft workout, Billy said, “You can be guaranteed that player is going to become the very best he can possibly become because he’s going to work that hard.” He’s never going to leave anything on the table. He’s always going to give you 100 percent and give himself 100 percent and give himself the best opportunity to become a player someday in this league.

NBA.com: That’s right. In January 1973, a house that Abdul-Jabbar owned in D.C. was targeted in a home invasion. [Terrorists murdered several people in an attack on the player’s spiritual teacher Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, a rival of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. Abdul-Jabbar was not present at the time.] WE: That took Washington out, so it got down to the Lakers or the Knicks. We did everything we could do to talk him out of wanting to be traded. But he said, “Nope. If you don’t, I’ll become a free agent or I’ll sign with the ABA.” Of course we didn’t want that to happen. So we decided to keep it quiet. “Let’s not go public until we have a deal.”

The Milwaukee Bucks today announced Craig Robinson as the organization’s new Vice President of Player and Organizational Development. Robinson brings a wealth of experience in business and basketball to the Bucks staff, where he will serve as a mentor and advisor to the Bucks roster – the youngest in the NBA. “Player development is instrumental to the success of our players on the court and their valuable impact in the community,” said Bucks co-owner Wes Edens. “We strive to equip every member of our organization with the tools they need to find personal success beyond basketball. As we continue to build a world-class franchise, we’re thrilled to have someone with Craig’s experience and character join our team and help our players reach their full potential on and off the court.”

Robinson will oversee the development and implementation of programs that support the professional and personal growth of players through education, mentorship, business and community efforts that align with the mission and goals of the Bucks organization. “It’s so important to surround our young players with talented and experienced people that can help mentor and guide them through the different stages of their careers,” said General Manager John Hammond. “Craig has an impressive set of qualifications that we feel will be beneficial to our players and our entire organization. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome him to the Bucks family.”
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