Sources: Bucks expand GM search, plan to begin interviews Monday

Adrian Wojnarowski
The Vertical

As assistant general manager Justin Zanik is preparing the franchise for the NBA draft, the Milwaukee Bucks continue to reach out to potential general manager candidates and plan to begin formal interviews on Monday, league sources told The Vertical.

The Bucks were granted permission to speak with several more GM candidates late this week, including Portland Trail Blazers assistant GM Bill Branch, Miami Heat assistant GM Adam Simon and Detroit Pistons assistant GM Pat Garrity, league sources told The Vertical.

Another candidate whom the Bucks have contacted, league sources said: San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon. Hammon has no front-office experience, but has been a behind-the-bench assistant coach under Gregg Popovich for three seasons.

Branch has been part of the Blazers’ front office since 2010, a run that’s included working with president of basketball operations Neil Olshey to draft All-Star guard Damian Lillard and the NBA’s 2016 Most Improved Player, C.J. McCollum. Branch has been a respected talent evaluator for 20 years in the NBA, including stops in Oklahoma City and Denver.

Simon has been integral in three NBA championship runs and to one of the league’s most respected player-personnel and scouting departments with the Heat. Most recently, Simon has been considered to have played a significant part in the acquisitions of Hassan Whiteside and undrafted Tyler Johnson.

As GM of the Heat’s NBA Developmental League affiliate in Sioux Falls, Simon has created a steady pipeline of D-League prospects contributing players to the Heat’s rotation.

Garrity played 10 seasons in the NBA with Phoenix and Orlando, and moved into a front-office role with Detroit in 2014. He was promoted to assistant GM in 2016 and has already begun to gather interest as a serious GM candidate in the league.

Previously this week, the Bucks reached out and obtained permission to speak to Indiana VP 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.

The Bucks are running a search to replace John Hammond, who left to join new president Jeff Weltman as GM of the Orlando Magic. Zanik remains a strong internal candidate for the GM job, with his candidacy gathering significant support inside and outside the organization. He joined the Bucks in 2016 with the expectation that he was a GM-in-waiting, leaving the Utah Jazz after three years as assistant GM.