Report: Bucks get permission to talk to top assistant GMs to fill their GM vacancy

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The Milwaukee Bucks are working to fill their vacant general manager position. The guy who held the gig and had been a big hand in building Milwaukee into a talented team on the rise in the East took his talents to Orlando to be the GM there as part of a regime change in that organization.

The Bucks, for their part, are going to speak to a number of top assistant GMs, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

As a precursor to possible interviews, Milwaukee made calls on Tuesday to inquire about Indiana vice president 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.

Those teams granted permission for Milwaukee to interview the candidates.

A few of those names may be familiar, including a couple former GMs. For example, Wilcox was the GM worked with Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta in recent years, but a split in what direction the organization should take going forward has led to changes there (Budenholzer is now only coaching, while Wilcox is in a holding pattern position). However, the one guy that could have the inside track is Stefanski, as he has a history with team coach Jason Kidd as well as the guy the Bucks hired to run their search, Rod Thorn.

Stefanski has history with Bucks coach Jason Kidd and team consultant Rod Thorn, whom he worked closely with in New Jersey. Stefanski was Thorn’s top assistant in the Nets’ run to consecutive NBA Finals appearances and led the Sixers to three playoff appearances in four years as GM, including the drafting of Jrue Holiday (No. 17 overall in 2009) and Nikola Vucevic (No. 16 overall in 2011).

Despite all those names, the smart money is still on Bucks assistant general manager Justin Zanik, who is now running the team on a day-to-day basis and is considered the leading candidate for the job.

Whoever gets the job needs to be able to work well with Kidd. There have been rumors of that for a while that he has almost GM powers over moves, and that it led to friction in the organization.

Whoever gets the job takes over a team on the rise in the East, one that already has Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, and Kris Middleton. The next step is to continue to develop those players add the right pieces around them to guide this team to becoming a contender. It will take a deft hand at GM to do that.