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Jazz scouts spent Saturday morning getting a close-up look at another batch of draft prospects, looking for talent to help round out the holes in their roster. Team officials, meanwhile, are also on the lookout for talent to help fill a big hole in their front office.
With the departure of assistant general manager Justin Zanik, who was hired late last month as the GM-in-waiting in Milwaukee, the Utah Jazz are weighing options and plotting their course for replacing one of their top executives.
Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said this weekend he has yet to speak directly with any candidates, nor is there a firm timeline in place for filling the vacancy, but the Jazz's front office boss does have some candidates in mind.
"We're not currently talking to anybody right now," Lindsey said. "But I am spending part of my day in diligence. I do know several candidates. I have worked with them, done deals with them. If we were to do something quick it would probably be based upon experience and familiarity. If we're looking at some of the younger talent out there, that may be more of a process."
Lindsey said the Jazz could potentially get by without hiring a replacement for Zanik. The team did not have an assistant general manager before Zanik was hired almost three years ago, and Lindsey said he trusts the experience of front office veterans Walt Perrin, Kevin O'Connor, David Fredman and Richard Smith.
Conversely, Lindsey said, the Jazz have the funding budgeted to make it possible that Zanik's old job could be split into two new positions.
"We've dispersed Justin's duties right now," Lindsey said. "We're functioning. I could hire nobody at the end of the day. I could hire up to two people."
Jazz vice president of basketball operations Linda Luchetti has been tasked with heading the search for possible replacements, casting a net that will include candidates both inside and outside the Jazz organization.
The Jazz granted Milwaukee officials permission to speak with Zanik in mid-May, as the Bucks looked for an executive to eventually replace general manager John Hammond. Still, Zanik's decision last week to take the job comes at a challenging time for the Jazz, who are preparing for this month's draft and the start of free agency in July.
"It's always difficult just with the nature of the NBA schedule," Lindsey said. "Even the slowest time is very dynamic."
Zanik was hired by the Jazz prior to the start of the 2013-14 season, as the team begin its rebuilding process. Before moving to the front office, Zanik had spent 15 years as an agent, experience that suited him well in Utah.
"Justin had balanced doing a really good job for his clients but also consistently striking deals that were win-wins for his client and the team," Lindsey said. "Because of that, he had really good relations around the league … Justin instantaneously brought very good relationships internationally, with other teams, with the large majority of the agencies that we most commonly do business with."
Zanik's skillset was quickly put to good use in Utah. With the Jazz, he helped handle contract negotiations, salary cap issues and scouting of international prospects. He also handled the personnel moves for the team's D-League affiliate.
"On a personal level, there's probably not one person that didn't really enjoy working with Justin, from ownership to [head coach Quin Snyder], to myself, all the way to the interns," Lindsey said. "It's a loss. But we'll always have a good relationship with Justin. Hopefully we'll be able to do good, sound business with Milwaukee because we have a deep relationship based upon trust."