The Bucks parted ways with Assistant GM David Morway in September of 2015 and the position has remained vacant since that moment. Little information has popped up about the search to fill the position since then, but ESPN's Marc Stein shed more light on the process Sunday evening.
Milwaukee plans to interview Jazz exec Justin Zanik and ex-Charlotte GM Rod Higgins this week for a front-office post, league sources say.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 15, 2016
Justin Zanik and Rod Higgins, sources say, are among a handful of candidates Milwaukee is looking at to work alongside Bucks GM John Hammond— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 15, 2016
Though Stein doesn't explicitly state that Higgins and Zanik are in the running for Assistant GM, it feels safe to say that whoever the team brings in would be groomed for a similar position. With both GM John Hammond and head coach Jason Kidd's contracts up at the end of next season, the future of Bucks leadership remains murky. A new addition could conceivably become part of the Hammond-Kidd brain trust for years to come or be part of a new front office after one or both current members of the front office move in a different direction. But enough about that speculation. Who are these guys?
Higgins had lead basketball executive stints in Golden State and Charlotte, amassing a middling 256-313 record and two playoff appearances. Higgins abruptly resigned from his President of Basketball Operations position with the Bobcats/Hornets in 2014, making way for current GM Rich Cho to assume more responsibility. The 56-year-old Higgins previously played 13 seasons as well, bouncing around the NBA and other basketball leagues before serving as an assistant coach in Golden State and later an assistant GM with the Wizards in the early 2000s. Higgins' close relationship with Jordan -- dating back to their playing days in Chicago -- was largely credited with his gigs in Washington and Charlotte, though he was ultimately marginalized with the Hornets. Via Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:
"Rod's strong points are working with the coaches and the trainers, traveling with the team," Jordan said. "He was my buffer zone with the coaches. I didn't want to overwhelm them with ideas, so I'd work with Rod on that."
Jordan said he wants Cho, with a background as an attorney, dealing more with budgets and managing the salary cap.
"One of (Higgins') strong points is not negotiating, leveraging teams," Jordan said. "Sometimes when teams would call (proposing trades), they'd bypass Rod to get to Rich."
Higgins in many ways seems a stark contrast to Zanik, who has served as Assistant GM under Dennis Lindsey with the Utah Jazz since 2013. He had been a certified agent since 2003, coming into his Jazz position from ASM Sports and Priority Sports Management. Zanik specialized in basketball and player operations at both places, where he gained a strong reputation for both his knowledge of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and his ability to work with all levels of basketball operations. Zanik also has Wisconsin roots through his wife Gina, who is from Madison and graduated from the University of Wisconsin. Moreover, his daughter was treated at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in 2013 while Zanik and his wife were transitioning from ASM Sports in Chicago to Utah.
It is unclear whether the Bucks are looking to make a hire soon, though Stein reporting this news might suggest they'd prefer to get things in order sooner rather than later. The NBA Draft Lottery is this coming Tuesday and the draft is June 23rd. Free agency gets underway shortly thereafter. Perhaps the Bucks will have some additional insight into those discussions and negotiations.