The Bulls are moving forward quickly in their effort to get out in front of the rest of the NBA during the league’s hiatus and land a new top executive to lead the front office. This week, reports from NBC Sports Chicago and ESPN indicate Chicago has already interviewed four candidates for the position, including two former Hawks general managers and two younger GMs on current NBA playoff teams, as well as one massive wildcard.
Initial reporting suggested the Bulls were predominantly targeting executives with NBA experience currently employed across the league. That list included Chad Buchanan of the Pacers, Bobby Webster of the Raptors, and Adam Simon of the Heat, each of whom declined the offer to interview with Chicago COO Michael Reinsdorf (who is also the son of 84-year-old owner Jerry).
So the Reinsdorfs moved on to the other current executives on their list, including Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas and Jazz general manager Justin Zanik. Both candidates are similar in that they’ve interviewed for multiple recent openings around the NBA (with Zanik momentarily serving as interim GM in Milwaukee), and both serve below top dogs with final decision-making power in Tim Connelley (Denver) and Dennis Lindsey (Utah).
The Bulls reportedly interviewed both Zanik and Karnisovas early this week, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and NBC Sports’ K.C. Johnson. Longtime Bulls reporter Vincent Goodwill, now a national analyst at Yahoo Sports! wrote on Tuesday that Karnisovas is the frontrunner.
“Karnisovas has a strong draft record and is known to be good in player development, two of the bullet points the Bulls have earmarked for their next top basketball executive,” Goodwill wrote.
That didn’t stop Reinsdorf from seeking out three new candidates from the ranks of former NBA execs. The Bulls reportedly also have interviewed former Hawks GMs Wes Wilcox and Danny Ferry, as well as two-time Executive of the Year (and later disgraced burner Twitter account user) Bryan Colangelo, per various reports on Wednesday.
Former GM Danny Ferry interviewed for the Bulls lead executive position, per sources.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 8, 2020
Former Atlanta Hawks GM Wes Wilcox interviewed for the Chicago Bulls Executive VP of Basketball Operations job today, sources tell ESPN. Wilcox helped build an Eastern Conference contender with the Hawks. Wilcox is currently an analyst with NBA-TV.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 8, 2020
The Bulls interviewed former 76ers president Bryan Colangelo for top basketball operations position, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Colangelo also has been lead executive in Toronto and Phoenix.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 8, 2020
While Ferry and Wilcox have been in the league for years, both have been unable to land top jobs since they were both ousted from Atlanta for separate instances of racial insensitivity. Colangelo, on the other hand, infamously stepped away from leading the Sixers after admitting that he and his wife failed to exercise proper judgment with regard to social media, as anonymous burner accounts exposed private information about the team.
So far, the Bulls’ top candidates appear to be the two most qualified, as Zanik and Karnisovas each have helped build perennial Western Conference playoff contenders in small markets, and appear ready to take full control of a franchise. But judging from the Bulls’ expansive process, they haven’t landed on one candidate yet, and are looking high and low — although, as many have pointed out, their search has yet to bring in a minority candidate.