CHICAGO – Arguably the biggest story in Chicago sports during the COVID-19 pandemic centers around the Bulls and their search for new leadership in the organization.
Last Friday, it was reported that the team will be changing the their basketball operations hierarchy that right now has John Paxson as the executive vice president and Gar Forman the general manager. Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the former will stay on in an advisory role while the latter’s future has yet to be decided.
Now on Monday, it appears the Bulls are moving forward, at the moment, with a least two candidates.
Per Wojnarowski, the Bulls have conducted a video interview with Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik and will interview Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas later in the week.
These changes as the NBA season remains on pause during the COVID-19 pandemic, but were widely expected after another disappointing season for the team on the floor. Through 55 games, the Bulls were 22-43, eight games out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, which was stated as the goal going into the season.
This is the third year for the Bulls’ rebuilding process that began following the trade of Jimmy Butler on draft night in 2017, and the progress hasn’t been quick enough to satisfy Bulls’ ownership. That’s led to this very rare transition of front office power within the organization since Jerry Reinsdorf became owner.
Karnisovas has been the general manager for the Nuggets since 2017 after serving as assistant general manager for the franchise since 2013. Under his leadership, Denver has continued to steadily make their way up the Western Conference standings, and were sitting in third in the 2019-2020 season before it was paused.
Zanik, a Northwestern University graduate, has been the general manager for the Jazz since May of 2019 after serving as assistant GM for the franchise since 2017. He was in that position with the Jazz also from 2013-2016 before leaving to take the same job with the Bucks for one year.
Raptors general manager Bobby Webster, who helped that team win the NBA Championship in 2019, is also thought to be a candidate. But per SportsNet in Canada, the Bulls will likely not be given permission to speak to them about the opening.
Per KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, the Bulls have interest in Heat assistant general manager Adam Simon, but that team would like to retain him. Indiana Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan, per Johnson, has pulled out of consideration.