Denver Nuggets General Manager Arturas Karnisovas continues to be a wanted man around the league. In 2016, he interviewed for a GM opening with the Nets. Last May, Karnisovas was on the short list of candidates for the vacant General Manager position with the Milwaukee Bucks. Shortly after interviewing for the Bucks position, the Nuggets promoted then GM Tim Connelly to the title of President of Basketball Operations while elevating Karnisovas into the GM role.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, the Philadelphia 76ers have had their eye on the former Lithuanian star.
The vacant 76ers position is perhaps the most desirable front office job to become available in the last couple of years. The team has two budding superstars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and a flexible salary cap situation going forward. They also have plenty of additional young talent including 2018 first round draft pick, Zhaire Smith and 2017’s #1 overall pick, Markelle Fultz.
Even more intriguing, the team parted ways with each of the last two GMs in high profile and embarrassing fashion. Sam Hinke stepped down in April of 2016 after feeling marginalized with the addition of Brian and Jerry Colangelo as a sort of de facto overseer of front office decisions. Then, in May of this year, The Ringer revealed evidence that Brian Colangelo (or someone close to him) had been using “burner” twitter accounts to defend the team’s front office decisions. The accounts also revealed private information about 76ers players’ health and work habits while throwing barbs at Sam Hinke and his fans.
So in addition to the GM position being one with promise in terms of projected on court success, the position could also provide a unique amount of stability since the 76ers are desperate for some continuity and good press. That is why it is especially surprising, and perhaps encouraging, that Karnisovas pulled his name from contention. Presumably, Karnisovas either feels ambivalent about the 76ers position, or he is especially content here in Denver. Perhaps both.
Karnisovas was a very successful and high profile professional basketball player in Europe from the late 1980s until the early 2000s. He was a member of the Lithuanian national teams that won the Bronze medal in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. He was also named the FIBA European player of the year in 1996. His reputation and familiarity with the European basketball market is widely credited as a key component for the Nuggets’ recent success in finding and signing European prospects.