Justin Zanik, the Jazz’s assistant general manager, was a hot commodity around the NBA. After returning to Utah from Milwaukee — where he was hired as the GM-in-waiting before the Bucks moved in a different direction — Zanik was a finalist for the Philadelphia 76ers general manager job as well during this season.
But top Jazz managers wanted to keep Zanik around. So they gave Zanik what he wanted: a general manager title, with all that comes with it.
On Friday, the Jazz announced Zanik’s promotion, along with a separate one for Dennis Lindsey, who was named the Jazz’s executive vice president of basketball operations. Both signed new contracts, extending the tenure of their front office. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the news.
“We are excited for these promotions as they further enable Dennis to provide executive leadership and overall strategic vision for Jazz basketball operations and give Justin the opportunity for greater impact on our organization," Jazz President Steve Starks said in a statement. "As one of the brightest young executives in the league, Justin will be responsible for the day-to-day operations. Their leadership allows us to work collectively toward our championship goals.”
Zanik first signed with the Jazz in 2013 when Lindsey conducted a search for his assistant general manager. Before working for the Jazz, he was an agent for player agency ASM Sports.
“I am honored for the opportunity to work in this uniquely collaborative environment with the coaching staff, players, front office and business operations. A camaraderie exists across the organization that makes this franchise special," Zanik said.
Meanwhile, Lindsey — the 2018 Executive of the Year runner-up — will oversee Zanik and the rest of the basketball operations staff, maintaining the long-term strategic vision of the franchise. The deals serve largely to extend the contracts of the Jazz’s front office, which features three executives with top-level general managing experience: Lindsey, Zanik, and assistant general manager David Morway, who maintains his current role. The franchise did not reveal the lengths of the extensions for Lindsey and Zanik.
“Our entire basketball operations and coaching staff are a terrific group who are all focused on the same goal. Justin is extremely talented and an even better person,” Lindsey said. “We have enjoyed working closely together and I look forward to continuing our partnership.”
The promotions, while giving more responsibility and power to Zanik, don’t figure to change the Jazz’s decision making processes on major decisions much. Just as before, the franchise will make moves as a group, gathering insight from scouting and analytics departments and getting buy-in and input from Starks and ownership.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder also issued a statement relating to the hires: “I greatly appreciate working with Dennis and Justin and our entire basketball operations department,” he said. “Having continuity with good people is certainly a positive and look forward to our continued work together.”
Owner Gail Miller made the final decision to keep the front office with Lindsey and Zanik around for the long haul.
"Dennis has put together a team and staff that we are very proud of and who represent our values,” said Gail Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz. “We believe in the importance of continuity and have been fortunate to have Dennis, Justin and their families in our organization.”