Marc Stein: The Bucks, meanwhile, remain interested in Cavs general manager David Griffin for their front office vacancy, but Cleveland, as seen with both Orlando and Atlanta, are not granting Milwaukee permission to speak with David Griffin during the playoffs.
More on Bucks Front Office
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.
Zanik remains a strong internal candidate for the job, league sources told The Vertical. He joined the Bucks in 2016 after three years as assistant GM of the Utah Jazz.
The Milwaukee Bucks have interest in Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, whose current contract expires at season's end and who is in discussions with Cleveland on continuing there. Multiple sources told cleveland.com that the Bucks, who lost general manager John Hammond to the Orlando Magic this week, have interest in Griffin, 47.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Zanik remains serious contender to elevate permanently from assistant GM and will run Bucks front office until process is complete.
Current Bucks assistant general manager Justin Zanik will interview for the GM post and be given strong consideration to succeed Hammond, sources said. Zanik has been erroneously described in some corners as the Bucks GM-in-waiting, but sources insist he was never promised the position by the Bucks upon joining them from the Utah Jazz and will have to convince team officials he is the best choice to lead the franchise into the future.
The Bucks, sources said, want to take this opportunity to ensure the leadership they select can help the franchise take the next step after a promising season that saw Milwaukee -- led by Antetokounmpo and his rise to All-Star status -- reach the playoffs despite losing Jabari Parker to a season-ending knee injury.
Marc Stein: The Milwaukee Bucks have decided to open up their newly vacant general manager position to a broad search, ESPN has learned.
Marc Stein: Bucks consultant and longtime NBA executive Rod Thorn will lead the search on behalf of Milwaukee ownership, league sources say.
Marc Stein: Bucks assistant general manager Justin Zanik will have an opportunity to interview for the GM position, according to league sources.
ESPN Cleveland: Windhorst: Griff could be a candidate in other places, including Milwaukee. Not sure Atlanta will wait. Griff wants a substantial offer.
``We are very excited to join Jeff (Weltman) and be a part of the team in Orlando,’’ Hammond said in a statement. ``The Magic are a first-class organization all the way around and we look forward to this tremendous opportunity. I want to thank the ownership in Milwaukee, Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan, for their support and I certainly wish them well.’’
``John (Hammond) brings tremendous experience and is a great talent evaluator,’’ Weltman said in a statement. ``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.’’
Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond has agreed to a five-year contract to join the Orlando Magic’s front office as GM, league sources told The Vertical. Hammond will reunite with new Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman to try to revive the foundering franchise.
Milwaukee had been planning to promote assistant GM Justin Zanik to run the franchise in 2018 and letting Hammond accept a long-term deal with the Magic clears the way for the promotion to come sooner, league sources told The Vertical. Milwaukee hired Zanik a year ago from the Utah Jazz, where he had worked under GM Dennis Lindsey.
Marc Stein: As @Brian Windhorst reported, John Hammond interviewed in Orlando for the president of basketball operations job Toronto's Jeff Weltman landed
The Magic interviewed several candidates for the job including Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond. The team was interested in hiring Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin for the position. Griffin had discussions about the job but never was able to formally interview because the Cavs did not grant permission and the Magic decided to move on.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Magic have interest in Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond, Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman and former Minnesota Timberwolves president and Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale.
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.”
Jeff Zillgitt: At one point, Robinson expressed an interest in the NBPA executive director job, I was told.
Craig Robinson and his wife, Kelly, were married in 2006. He is the father of four children: sons Austin, Aaron and Avery, and daughter Leslie. Robinson is also the older brother of First Lady Michelle Obama.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources on @The Vertical: Milwaukee has extended the contract of GM John Hammond one year thru the 2017-'18 season.
The Milwaukee Bucks today named Justin Zanik the team’s new assistant general manager. In his role within the organization, Zanik will participate in all areas of day-to-day basketball operations management. Zanik joins Milwaukee following a three-year stint as the assistant general manager for the Utah Jazz, where he helped facilitate contract negotiations, managed the team’s salary cap and oversaw the scouting of international prospects, among other duties.
Frank Madden: New Ast GM Justin Zanik joined Jason Kidd and John Hammond at today's workout. Look, John and Jason like each other! https://t.co/yBjKVi9Lxw
Charles F. Gardner: Bucks' new assistant GM Justin Zanik watched morning workout involving 6 prospects. Official announcement of hiring expected soon.
Charles F. Gardner: League source disputes Zanik being termed "GM-in-waiting" for Bucks. Move provides more options for Bucks going forward.
Marc Stein: One quick note away from this series: ESPN sources say Milwaukee is closing in on the hiring of Justin Zanik as assistant general manager
The Milwaukee Bucks are hiring Utah Jazz executive Justin Zanik as the franchise's general manager-in-waiting, league sources told The Vertical. Zanik, an assistant general manager with Utah, will join the Bucks with a similar job title – and an agreement that he will eventually become the successor to Milwaukee GM John Hammond, sources said.
A timetable on the succession plan is still unclear, sources said. Utah GM Dennis Lindsey was agreeable in letting Zanik make the move because the initial assistant GM role comes with the provision that Zanik will become the Bucks' top basketball executive, league sources said.
Speaking of the Raptors: Bobby Webster, their vice president of basketball management and strategy, is among the candidates interviewing for Milwaukee's assistant GM job, according to sources familiar with the matter. Webster, a former cap and CBA expert for the league office, is considered a rising front-office star.
Jason Kidd: "John Hammond and those guys have been scouting all year, and will put us in a position as we get closer to the draft and free agency to have a better understanding of who we like, and what we want to do to improve our team. I think John and I have been a pretty good team together. The things that have been reported about my relationship with him simply aren’t true. He and I have a great relationship. When he has asked for my input, I have given to him, and that’s that. All the speculation about me wanting to be the general manager of the franchise is totally false."
Jason Kidd: "John has done a great job of being the GM here in Milwaukee. I have total respect for what he does for this organization. I understand the success that he’s had, and have enjoyed learning from him. He’s been in this business and been doing it for a long time. He won a championship in Detroit, so he knows what it means and what it takes to build a winner. And because he has also coached in this league, he’s seen it from that side, too. We both come to the office everyday to continue to look at what we can do going forward to get better as a team."
Charles F. Gardner: Source confirms @ESPNSteinLine report that Utah exec Justin Zanik and former Charlotte pres. of bkb ops Rod Higgins will interview w/Bucks.
Two of the more significant changes could involve Bucks general manager John Hammond and Bucks head coach Jason Kidd. A year ago, there was considerable chatter Hammond would move on, only to see him receive a one-year extension. But several NBA sources contend Hammond will soon be relocating to another zip code — either being fired or leaving on his own volition. Talk among some league officials is Hammond will end up in perhaps a similar position with New Orleans. The Pelicans figure to be doing some serious housecleaning themselves and hire Louisiana native, former Detroit Pistons “Bad Boy’’ and Hammond confidante Joe Dumars as the president of basketball operations.
As for Kidd, ever since his arrival in Milwaukee two summers ago, there have been whispers his coaching tenure wouldn’t be long and that it would only be a matter of time before he moved into the front office. But I’m told Kidd, who was brought to Milwaukee by one of the team’s tri-majority owners and close friend, Marc Lasry, hasn’t endeared himself to the rest of the Bucks’ ownership group. Some think Kidd’s arrogant, some think his heart isn’t into coaching and are miffed he took off a portion of the season for hip surgery when he could have done it in the offseason. Some, most importantly, question his coaching acumen and his player personal decision-making.
I’ve also been told by people close to the Bucks’ situation that Kidd, once the golden boy of the organization, is now on shaky ground. His future with the franchise is clearly cloudy, especially from a coaching standpoint when some highly-regarded and vastly more experienced coaches than Kidd are available. Can you say Tom Thibodeau?
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical, Jason Kidd's future in Milwaukee may be at risk. Kidd is pushing to have more power and authority into the Bucks front-office and he's already thinkig about becoming a full time GM at the end of the season. But Bucks ownership isn't willing to give him more power and has already blocked a trade with the Pelicans that Kidd tried to make at the deadline. Kidd has been the main author of some recent Bucks moves, including the trade for Michael Carter-Williams.
As the underachieving Milwaukee Bucks face a crucial stretch of their season, head coach Jason Kidd is recuperating from hip surgery and out indefinitely. He may be looking to move up in the organization in the interim, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. From "The Vertical" podcast: "A lot of people around the league and people I talked to in the aftermath of this wonder, given Kidd's penchant in the past to bail on things when they get difficult - could this be the beginning of Kidd's escape hatch to maybe just moving up to a full-time role in the front office, whether he finishes up coaching this year and then tries to move up next year?"