Bulls have pair of front runners for General Manager job

by - Staff Writer -
USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

As we continue to follow all the GM news surrounding the Bulls, we have come to realize four things over the past week.

First, we have seen the Bulls are moving fast as they want this process to be done sooner rather than later. The quicker they find a new GM, the sooner they can get to business in terms of establishing a new culture and having all of this take place before the NBA draft this season.

Secondly, John Paxson has told the organization that he would phase himself out if it were to help the rebuild. While this may be music to a lot of Bulls fans ears, don't immediately think this would happen. I do expect the Bulls will want him less involved in the future in terms of making decisions, but to completely phase him out doesn't seem realistic at this point.

The third thing we have learned broke over the weekend, and that is two of the Bulls hopeful GM candidates have now dropped out of the race. While the current Pacers GM has elected to withdraw his name from the list to remain in Indiana, the same cannot be said for the Raptors GM as he was not permitted to interview for the job, meaning he stays in Toronto.

With those two out of the race, where does that leave the Bulls in their search for a new general manager? Well, it leaves them in a better position than you would expect, which brings me to the fourth thing we learned about the search thus far, which is the Bulls are down to two candidates in the running for the job.

The first one should come as no surprise as his name has been thrown around since the beginning. That man is Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas. While Paxson has not been present with these interviews taking place, all talk around the clubhouse feels as if Karnisovas is the leader right now. With the amount of money and young talent the Bulls have compiled and the fact that they are trying to catch up on many different levels, Karnisovas looks to be the perfect fit for the job.

The reason for the beliefs that he will indeed be offered the position can go back to his overall track record with the Nuggets as he has specialized in strong draft classes as well as player development, both areas in which the Bulls have struggled with in recent seasons.

For the record, the Bulls have drafted decently over the past few years, but the way the current front office constructed the roster has made it hard for them to develop. That is what one of the main goals of hiring a new GM would be for Chicago. Not only would they be responsible for drafting high-quality players, but also to bring in free agents and develop everyone to form a cohesive unit.

Sources also feel that the Reinsdorf family is also looking to surround themselves with smart people. Someone who is a great talent evaluator, which are both qualities that Karnisovas brings to the table.

Another new name that is starting to generate some steam is the second favorite to land the Bulls GM job in Utah Jazz GM Justin Zanik. With all the signs pointing to Karnisovas, don't count out Zanik, who grabbed the attention yesterday following his interview with the organization. This may come as a surprise to some knowing how the Jazz have been put together over the past five seasons, but some feel the Jazz may not be too keen on keeping Zanik around making him a legit choice.

I am sure most successful organizations would struggle to part ways with a strong GM, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on going forward. What makes Zanik a good fit for the position is several attributes, but one that stands out more so than the rest.

With the Jazz going through their own facelift recently, the Bulls may be looking for someone familiar with that type of restructuring, meaning Zanik has been there done that before. Along with healthy draft classes of his own, the Bulls seem to admire what the Jazz front office has done lately in terms of the foundation, and they are hoping they can do the same. Why not go out and get the person who helped lay that groundwork.

Current assistant GM Matt Lloyd has also been mentioned on the list of remaining candidates, but he is the only familiar name inside the organization thus far.

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