CHIGAGO (CBS) — The days of GarPax are numbered. It seems the Chicago Bulls have been busy lately, even with the NBA season on indefinite hiatus. Recent reports suggest the team is actively looking for a new vice president of basketball operations. Interviewees have included current and former NBA executives like Bryan Colangelo, Wes Wilcox, Justin Zanik and Arturas Karnisovas. The goal is to have a new person in place when (if) play resumes this season.
Jon Paxson, a Bulls player between 1985 and 1994, currently holds the position. Paxson has been part of the team’s front office since 2003, serving as general manager until 2009 and since then as VP of basketball operations. The Bulls have had moderate success during Paxson’s tenure. That includes six winning seasons and seven playoff appearances since 2009.
The team hasn’t topped 30 wins the past three seasons. (Tom Thibodeau’s exit in 2015 probably has something to do with it.) And their success with him as VP certainly pales in comparison to their success with him as a player during the Jordan years. Success in a wholesale rebuild such as this requires patience. But reports also suggest that patience has grown thin in Chicago. Lauri Markkanen, seen as a cornerstone, wants out if things don’t change and soon.
Paxson is aware of the team’s search for a new head of basketball operations and willing to accommodate the team however he can. The team has been gathering information since at least the All-Star break.
As for the candidates, Colangelo served many years as general manager of the Phoenix Suns and also spent time with the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers. He resigned from the Sixers two years ago when it came to light that he was posting sensitive team information to burner Twitter accounts.
Wilcox helped turn the Atlanta Hawks into a contender in the mid-2010s, first as assistant GM and then as GM. In 2014-15, the team piled up 60 wins but lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Hawks never matched that success with Wilcox as GM and parted ways with him amidst some controversy surrounding a racially insensitive joke.
Zanik, who interviewed Monday via video conference, is currently GM of the Utah Jazz. He took over the Western Conference contender just last season after years as an agent.
Karnisovas, who has been the Denver Nuggets’ GM since 2013, is also set to interview at some point in the near future. Under his direction, the Nuggets have gone from afterthought to Western Conference powerhouse.
The Bulls plan to contact other possible candidates as well.