What a long, strange trip it’s been, but the Milwaukee Bucks have found a general manager. He happened to be in their front office already, but it wasn’t the person everyone thought it would be. It was a dark Horst candidate.
The Bucks named Jon Horst as their new general manager, announcing the news quietly Friday evening, during the U.S. Open in Erin Hills and amid outside reports of disagreement among ownership and other members of the organization. The promotion of Horst concludes a three-week-long hiring search Milwaukee conducted following the departure of former GM John Hammond to take the same position with the Orlando Magic.
The Bucks were widely believed to be down to two candidates for the job, Denver Nuggets executive Arturas Karnisovas and Justin Zanik, their own assistant GM. After Karnisovas was made the general manager in Denver two days ago, Milwaukee seemingly was left only with Zanik, on whom ownership was reportedly divided. Rather than give Zanik the reigns, though, the Bucks elevated Horst, the team’s director of basketball operations since 2008, when he joined the organization with Hammond.
The team will hold an introductory press conference on Monday.
"Our No. 1 priority is building a championship-caliber organization and we believe Jon is the right person to be our general manager," Bucks owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan said in a statement. "He has been an integral part of basketball operations for the last nine years, and has helped advise us on every major basketball decision since we purchased the team. Jon is very talented, capable, organized and someone we have leaned on for his strategic thinking and ability to execute our vision.
"There is a tremendous level of enthusiasm surrounding our new state-of-the-art arena, the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center and transformational development of downtown Milwaukee. We’re excited about the future of our organization and are confident that Jon will lead our team to the highest level."
Horst began his NBA front office career with the Detroit Pistons in 2005. With nearly a decade of front-office experience in Milwaukee, he has been instrumental in personnel evaluation, salary cap management and contract negotiations, though he’s been a very behind-the-scenes figure who is a virtual unknown publicly.
The 34-year-old graduated from Rochester (Mich.) College, where he played basketball for four seasons and won two United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Championships, in 2006 with a degree in sports management. He and his wife, Mia, have two children, Sophie and Zeke.
"I’m extremely grateful to our ownership group for their faith and trust in me," Horst said. "Wes, Marc and Jamie have demonstrated a commitment to building a championship-caliber team, providing the necessary tools and resources, and I’m excited to execute their vision.
"In my new capacity, I’m looking forward to working with Jason Kidd and the coaching staff, along with our world-class performance team, to give our talented players the support they need to bring a championship to Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin."
Zanik had been running the Bucks' preparations for the 2017 NBA Draft, which is on June 22. Milwaukee has the No. 17 and No. 48 picks.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.