Sources: Bulls on track to interview two candidates for front office role

Sources: Bulls on track to interview two candidates for front office role

The Bulls interviewed Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik by video Monday and plan to do the same with Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas this week in their search for a new head of basketball operations, sources told NBC Sports Chicago.

Zanik is in his second stint with the Jazz after working as both assistant general manager and interim general manager for the Milwaukee Bucks. He returned to Utah, where he was recently promoted, when Bucks ownership couldn’t reach agreement on lifting his interim tag and instead hired Jon Horst to replace John Hammond.

Zanik, who attended Northwestern University, previously worked as a player agent, including representing Omer Asik when he signed an offer sheet with the Houston Rockets and left the Bulls in 2012.

NBC Sports Chicago originally reported Zanik to be on Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf’s list of candidates but subsequently reported that Zanik’s ties to player agency likely would preclude him from the interview process. However, Zanik’s strong reputation for communication, cap knowledge and connections with international basketball helped him overcome the Bulls’ typical approach to agents.

Zanik was a finalist for the Philadelphia 76ers’ general manager job that went to Elton Brand before the Jazz promoted him from assistant general manager to general manager.

Karnisovas has worked in Denver since 2013 and was promoted to general manager under Tim Connelly in June 2017. He signed a contract extension in February 2019.   

Following a wildly successful international playing career, Karnisovas worked for the NBA for five years before joining the Rockets as an international scout. In Denver, the management team has drafted Nikola Jokic in the second round and acquired Gary Harris in the 2014 draft as part of the three-team trade that netted the Bulls Doug McDermott.

The native of Lithuania was a finalist for the Nets and Bucks general manager positions before the Nuggets promoted him.

Coincidentally, Karnisovas was a finalist for the Bucks job with Zanik and Horst before the Nuggets promoted him and he withdrew from consideration.

It’s looking less likely that the Bulls will interview Raptors general manager Bobby Webster, who is in line for a new deal in Toronto. Through a team spokesman, the Heat said assistant general manager Adam Simon will remain with the organization after the Bulls expressed interest in talking to him. Simon grew up in Miami and, beyond his strong ties to his hometown, is well respected by Heat president Pat Riley.

NBC Sports Chicago also reported Indiana Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan to be on Reinsdorf's list of candidates, but subsequently reported that Buchanan has decided to stay with the Pacers. His close ties to Pacers president Kevin Pritchard and comfort level personally with the franchise and community are why he stayed.

Other candidates could emerge beyond Zanik and Karnisovas, including Orlando Magic assistant general manager Matt Lloyd and Los Angeles Clippers assistant general manager Trent Redden.

While executive vice president John Paxson is expected to remain in an advisory role, he has made clear to ownership he will play as small or large a role that the new hire desires. Ownership has conveyed this to potential candidates. In fact, the new hire will be allowed to assemble the front office infrastructure as he sees fit, including, ultimately, a decision on the coaching staff, sources said.

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Michael Jordan issues statement of solidarity in wake of George Floyd's death

Michael Jordan issues statement of solidarity in wake of George Floyd's death

Add Michael Jordan to the growing list of powerful voices to address the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody on May 25 in an incident that brought third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin.

The incident, in which Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes despite Floyd’s pleas for help, has led to widespread protests throughout the United States, including in Chicago. Chauvin is white. Floyd was African-American.

In recent years, Jordan, the Charlotte Hornets chairman, has taken a more significant and public role in addressing societal issues after drawing criticism from some during his playing career with the Bulls for not doing and saying more.

“I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” Jordan’s statement said. “I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough.

“I don’t have the answers, but our collective voices show strength and the inability to be divided by others. We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality. We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability. Our unified voice needs to put pressure on our leaders to change our laws, or else we need to use our vote to create systemic change. Every one of us needs to be part of the solution, and we must work together to ensure justice for all.

“My heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and to the countless others whose lives have been brutally and senselessly taken through acts of racism and injustice.”


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Bulls issue statement following death of George Floyd, recent protests

Bulls issue statement following death of George Floyd, recent protests

In a statement issued Sunday, the Bulls joined many in the sports world by speaking up in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Floyd died in police custody on May 25 after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine straight minutes (a video of which spread across the internet). Since, mass protests have taken root across the United States, including in Chicago.

In the statement, Nancy and Michael Reinsdorf expressed condolences to the families of those mourning, condemned racism in any form and called for action towards equality and justice for all.

“The events of the past weeks have been disturbing and challenging for us all. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as the incident with Christian Cooper, were gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. The Bulls organization sends our condolences to these families who have been caused unthinkable grief and to all those who suffer because of these terrible incidents.

“All too often, after these tragedies we talk but the conversations don’t result in any meaningful changes. Our communities can’t move forward or hope for peace when we’re constantly hitting the reset button after each incident. Everyone deserves to feel safe, to be respected and to be able to reach their full potential. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of world we live in.

“We are angry, sad and confused. Racism in any form is wrong, and what we see happening makes us want to take action. We know that’s the same for a lot of people. But anger isn’t about destruction. Lawless actions won’t bring better understanding, and they don’t honor the lives that have been lost. We should use our energy and efforts to come together to build a better Chicago that stands for equality and justice for all.

“There is a crisis in our country, and we need to redouble our efforts and work harder than ever. We have to rise above our differences and come together to affect real change for the future; otherwise we’re going to see the past repeat itself again. We have to listen to each other, act with love and be intentional and relentless in our pursuit of a better world. It is time. We at the Chicago Bulls organization are committed to working together to stand for real change. We can do this together.”

Saturday, Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr. and Coby White also voiced their reactions to Floyd’s killing:

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