[UPDATE 8:25PM 6/19/17]
With the turmoil going on in the Cleveland Cavaliers front office it appears Justin Zanik might have a landing spot. Cleveland in an act of comic sans fired their GM David Griffin who had served as their GM for the past 3 seasons in which they played in 3 NBA Finals and won one of them. Marc Stein is reporting that not only is Cleveland targeting Chauncey Billups as their new GM, but Justin Zanik could be on the way in over in Cleveland.
League sources say Justin Zanik will be a strong candidate to work under Chauncey Billups if Billups takes over the Cavs' front office.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 20, 2017
Assistant GM Justin Zanik who left the Utah Jazz for the Milwaukee Bucks front office is set to return to the Wasatch Front according to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times. Justin Zanik left the Utah Jazz about this same time last year on the promise that he would be the GM in waiting in Milwaukee. According to a report last year by 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.
Justin Zanik was overlooked for the GM position in Milwaukee when the Bucks hired 34 year old Jon Horst. Zanik had to have frustrated to uproot himself from Utah to go to Milwaukee for the exact same position only to lose out to Horst who had been seen as the past Bucks’ GM Hammond’s right hand man.
The Vertical reported that the Bucks search was a bit of a mess.
Sources: After contentious ownership disagreement over search, Bucks closing in on hiring Dir. of Basketball Operations Jon Horst as GM.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 16, 2017
Assistant GM Justin Zanik had support of owner Marc Lasry, another top minority owner, Jason Kidd but full consensus was needed to hire him. https://t.co/FKPouwDpIy— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 16, 2017
Deadspin had this to say of the terrible process:
Congratulations to the Milwaukee Bucks for hiring as GM the candidate who wasn’t even a candidate, and who no one in charge actually wanted.
ESPN says Zanik had been overseeing the team’s preparations for next week’s draft, and that’s it’s unclear if he’ll stay in the organization after being passed over for this job. (I would wager not.) The Bucks will reportedly seek a veteran personnel person to pair with Horst, which makes you wonder why they didn’t just hire that person to be GM in the first place.
Justin Zanik would have been an excellent candidate for the Bucks but they went with the upstart who evidently needs a babysitter to advise him. If Zanik is back with the Utah Jazz, that just gives the Utah Jazz another strong presence in the front office. The Bucks missed out on a superb candidate. This will come back to bite them for sure.