He still carries the title assistant GM, not interim, unlike his counterpart on the coaching side, Tony Brown, but whether that distinction makes a difference is difficult to assess. Mikhail Prokhorov said Monday Frank Zanin is in charge of basketball operations. When someone calls, Zanin will answer - but Prokhorov added that he'll be available for consultation.
"We have assistant GM Frank Zanin and all the teams know who to call, and if he needs me, I will just contact with him every day. So, no problem," said the owner, who then said nothing else about the low-key 38-year-old."No problem" was his biggest accolade.
There's little about him on the Nets website and his social media presence is minimal. He does live in Brooklyn. But first and foremost, he is the ultimate Billy King loyalist. He owes his career to the man who was his boss in both Philadelphia and Brooklyn. Zanin began his NBA career in 1999 as a video intern with the 76ers, when King was GM. The next year, he was hired as the team’s video coordinator, increasingly becoming one of King's trusted lieutenants.
By 2003, he was promoted to advance scout/assistant coach and in 2006, Zanin began a two-year tenure as the team’s pro personnel scout, leaving in May 2007 after the Sixers canned King and brought in Ed Stefanski in mid-season.
From then until King joined the Nets, Zanin was out of the NBA. With King back, it wasn't long before Zanin joined him, Zanin served his first three seasons with the Nets as the team’s pro personnel scout and director of player procurement. Along the way, Zanin's brother, T.J., was signed as a Nets scout. T.J. is now director of college scouting for the Hornets.
By the summer of 2012, Zanin was getting credit from ownership for being a big help in the off-season moves that included re-signing Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, trading for Joe Johnson and signing Mirza Teletovic, among others.
One team insider advised NetsDaily to refer to the front office not as "Billy and Bobby," but "Billy, Bobby and Frank." equating his role with that of Bobby Marks, assistant GM. By the next summer, it became official. Zanin received the same title that Marks had held since King joined the Nets, assistant GM. When the Nets went into cost-cutting mode last summer, Marks was not renewed and it was just "Billy and Frank.". But while Marks was decidedly media-friendly, Zanin kept out of the limelight.
Zanin did a lot of the management dirty work for King but also had some big assignments. One recent role was the scouting of Juan Pablo Vaulet, the 6'7" Argentine guard the Nets traded for this summer. After a trip to Buenos Aires, Zanin pushed hard for the Nets to draft Vaulet. He recently flew to Argentina to scout the 19-year-old, who may or may not be in Brooklyn next season.
The West Chester University grad isn't likely to be appearing on a dias announcing a big deal during the next few months. The Nets reportedly want to turn the roster over to King's successor basically intact. One question is whether King will play any "advisory" role. Prokhorov seemed to suggest not on Monday, but King's role remains unspecified.
Does Zanin want the job permanently. It wouldn't be a surprise and he has his advocates, but that is unlikely. He is the caretaker.