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Business as usual: New general manager Justin Zanik will continue Jazz's collaborative process

By Ryan Miller, KSL.com | Posted - May 12th, 2019 @ 3:08pm



SALT LAKE CITY — Justin Zanik wanted to make it clear: This is not about him.

Yes, Zanik is appreciative of the recognition of being the new Utah Jazz general manager. But he also understands that things won’t be that much different with him in that chair.

In fact, he doesn't want them to be.

Dennis Lindsey is still around. Zanik, who has spent a total of five seasons with the Jazz, was already around. And the front office already used a collaborative effort to make major decisions.

So as the Jazz brought in six players for a pre-draft workout on Saturday, it almost felt like it was simply business as usual — for the Jazz and for Zanik.

“I don’t think it’s a fundamental shift,” Zanik said during his first media availability in his new position. “Dennis and I are here. We are going to continue to be here and we are going to continue to do work.”

So what exactly will change for Zanik now that he has the general manager title? He isn’t even sure of that.

But he also doesn’t think that’s really important.

Zanik has already seen his role expand and change since he was first hired in 2013 by the Jazz to help begin a rebuild.

As the team transformed into a perennial playoff team, his responsibilities evolved, too. And Zanik wasn’t alone. It was simply the nature of a changing and growing organization.

“All of our responsibilities shave evolved in my time here,” he said. “Growing analytics, growing in relationships, all the wonderful things on the business side that the Millers and (Jazz president) Steve Starks has led. With engagement in the community, the city, and the state. From a specific, ‘I am going to be doing this and not this’ — we do everything together.”

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And that’ll be the case as the Jazz head into the draft and free agency in what is a pivotal summer for the organization.

The Jazz have a young superstar in Donovan Mitchell, an elite defender in Rudy Gobert and highly respected coach in Quin Snyder. There’s a lot of pieces already in place for Utah to become a contender. What they do over the next few months may just determine if they can get there.

The Jazz have the No. 23 pick in next month's draft and they have the ability to clear enough space for a max slot to try and bring in a major free agent.

But deciding on the best course of action this summer won't be Zanik's responsibility alone. Nor does he want it to be.

“It’s not about me,” he said. “This is about the organization and the group. We have a very collaborative process that involves all aspect of the organization when we have decisions come up. Every offseason requires reflection on the previous seasons where we stand within the landscapes of the NBA.”

For the first 15 years of his career around basketball, Zanik was on the other side of the table. He was an agent negotiating on behalf of players and at one point helped to deal with upwards of 70 players throughout Europe and the NBA.

“When I came here, I already had relationships with all 30 NBA teams,” Zanik said.

His agent background brought a unique mindset and knowledge to the Jazz front office. That helped Utah. But he credits the people around him — Lindsey, Starks, Snyder (who Zanik helped hire) — for helping him grow into one of the more respected young executives in the league.

“I’ve been able to bring to the organization to help them, but they have helped me immensely to continue to take on more and more things to keep pushing this organization forward — as a group. It’s not any one person,” he said.

Justin Zanik timeline

1998-2002: Vice President, basketball operations, Priority Sports & Entertainment

2003-13: Agent, ASM Sports

2013-16: Assistant general manager, Utah Jazz

2016-17: Assistant general manager, Milwaukee Bucks

2017-19: Assistant general manager, Utah Jazz

2019: General manager, Utah Jazz

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