The Bulls started laying groundwork for their search for a top basketball executive during All-Star Weekend in February, so it’s no surprise they are looking to move this process along quickly.
Three more candidates with front-office experience emerged Wednesday after reportedly interviewing with the Bulls this week: former Cavaliers and Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox and former 76ers President Bryan Colangelo.
They join Jazz GM Justin Zanik and Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas, who has emerged as the early favorite, according to Yahoo Sports. The Bulls expanded the search after some of their initial targets withdrew from consideration, but they could have an executive in place this week or early next week, according to NBC Sports Chicago.
Karnisovas has built a strong draft record with success in player development during his seven years in the Nuggets front office and was coveted for front-office roles with the Nets, Bucks and 76ers in recent years before deciding to stay in Denver.
Each of the three new candidates has experience running basketball operations but exited under rocky circumstances.
Ferry helped build the Hawks into an Eastern Conference contender, including a 60-win season and appearance in the conference finals in 2014-15. But he was dismissed in June 2015 after reading a racist scouting report verbatim during a conference call about former Bulls player Luol Deng, who was then with the Heat.
“He has a little African in him, not in a bad way, but he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out the back,” the report said.
Ferry took a nearly 10-month sabbatical after the comments before the Hawks parted with him. He was a special adviser for the Pelicans for three years and served as their interim general manager for the last two months of the 2018-19 season, and he was a finalist for front-office openings with the Wizards and Pelicans in recent years.
Wilcox, currently an analyst for NBA TV, was Ferry’s assistant general manager in Atlanta and took over upon his dismissal. He spent two seasons as Hawks GM (2015-17) and they made the playoffs each year.
However, in 2017, Wilcox made a racist joke at a season ticket holders event, which he later apologized for after the team disciplined him. He was removed from the GM job after the season.
“I know you guys may be angry with me,” he told the season ticket holders, “but I’m used to it because I have a black wife and three mixed kids. So I’m used to people being angry and argumentative.”
Colangelo, the son of Chicagoan and longtime sports executive Jerry Colangelo, has been out of the NBA for two years but has experience as a top basketball executive with the Suns, Raptors and 76ers.
His tenure with the 76ers ended, however, after he and his wife were linked to several burner social media accounts that revealed team information, trashed people within the organization, including players, and defended Colangelo. He resigned in June 2018.
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