Milwaukee Releases Grunfeld
The Milwaukee Bucks yesterday released General Manager Ernie Grunfeld from the final year of his contract, allowing him to begin official negotiations with the Washington Wizards about their vacant president of basketball operations job.
If hired, Grunfeld would assume the job left vacant by Michael Jordan, who yesterday was no longer a candidate to purchase the Milwaukee franchise. The Bucks' owner, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), pulled out of negotiations to sell the team to Jordan, who played for the past two seasons with Washington before being rebuffed by Wizards owner Abe Pollin in an attempt to regain his front-office job as president of basketball operations. Jordan held the top basketball executive post from January 2000 to September 2001, before coming back to play.
The move to hire Grunfeld has been in the works for days.
"I have one year left on my contract and the Bucks graciously have allowed me to resign and seek employment," Grunfeld said in a statement released by the Bucks.
Grunfeld and his agent were expected to begin talks with Pollin right away. League sources recently said a deal could be finalized by early this week -- maybe as soon as today -- and Grunfeld could be with the Wizards by the time the free agent negotiating period gets underway Tuesday.
The team has called a news conference for 2:30 p.m. today at MCI Center. Initially it was to introduce draft picks Jarvis Hayes and Steve Blake, but the media advisory regarding the news conference gave no specifics about the topic of the assembly. The only other candidates for the basketball operations job known to have spoken to the Wizards are attorney and former University of Maryland star Len Elmore and NBA official and Hall of Fame player Bob Lanier.