City of Seattle Rumors

Latest On Potential Bucks Sale

April 15 at 3:27pm CDT By Chuck Myron

3:27pm: Woelfel wouldn’t be surprised if the new owners aren’t among those previously reported to be in the mix (Twitter link).

APRIL 15TH, 3:20pm: Kohl has selected the group he’ll sell to, Woelfel tweets. Woelfel doesn’t specify whether it’s a majority or minority stake that’ll change hands, but judging from his reporting to this point, he’s likely referring to a controlling interest in the Bucks.

APRIL 11TH: The NBA’s Board of Governors will likely make the Bucks one of the primary topics of discussion at their meeting next week, and there’s a “distinct possibility” that they’ll reveal new ownership for the team, according to Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. A pair of reports refuted Woelfel’s assertion last month that longtime owner Herb Kohl was likely to give up control of the team this spring, but Woelfel once more suggests a principal stake in the team is up for grabs.

Kohl has set the price at $500MM, Woelfel writes, which scared off potential investor Craig Leipold, who is the majority owner of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. Still, there are a number of other buyers who appear to be in play, as Woelfel details. Mark Attanasio, the principal owner of baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers, partnered with former Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley when he was reportedly close to buying the Bucks last year, but Heisley’s poor health has caused him to drop out of the mix. Attanasio nonetheless has strong ties to Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co., the firm that Kohl has hired to conduct the sale of the team, as does agent Arn Tellem, another rumored suitor, according to Woelfel.

Red Sox chairman and former Padres owner Tom Werner is also in the running for the Bucks, and so is a group of investors from Chicago, Woelfel reports. Former Raptors and Suns executive Bryan Colangelo appears to be linked to the Chicago group, and some around the league tell Woelfel that they believe there’s a chance he’ll head up the team’s basketball operations if the Chicago investors wind up taking over the team.

Health care executive Jon Hammes in the running, most likely for a minority stake, Woelfel writes. Woelfel reiterates the rumors connecting one-time Bucks player Junior Bridgeman and former Timberwolves GM David Kahn to the sale of the team. Chicago-based entrepreneur and neuropsychologist Dr. Richard Chaifetz has publicly expressed interest in owning an NBA team, Woelfel notes, but it’s not clear if he’s connected to the other Chicago investors.

Kohl and the NBA have been aggressively seeking a new arena for the Bucks in Milwaukee, and though it appears that security public funding will be an uphill fight, Kohl has been intent on ensuring the franchise remains in local hands. The principal figure in a group of investors from Seattle, which nearly became the new home of the Kings last year, recently said that he and his partners remain poised to bring an NBA team to the Emerald City.

Western Notes: Young, Llull, Sampson, Kings

April 3 at 6:07pm CDT By Ryan Raroque

Following last night’s game against Sacramento, Lakers guard Nick Young hinted that he plans to opt out this summer and enter free agency (Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com reports). The 6’7 swingman referred to his popular epithet when responding to a question about whether or not he’s already made up his mind:  “A little bit. It’s a mystery, though. I’ve got to keep y’all on your toes. That’s what Swaggy P does.”

Last week, we noted that Young would likely test the waters in July and remains interested in re-signing with the Lakers. Though he does hold a 2014/15 player option worth roughly $1.2MM, the L.A. native believes it’s time for a raise: “Most definitely. I deserve much more than that.” 

Here’s what else we’ve gathered out West this evening:

  • The Rockets have the draft rights to Spanish league guard Sergio Llull, but he’s not among the players the team appears to be considering, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Llull, 26, is considered an NBA-level talent, but his contract with Real Madrid would require a hefty in-season buyout, Stein notes (Twitter links).
  • The abruptness of Kelvin Sampson’s departure from the Rockets wasn’t entirely by choice, as league rules mandate that he couldn’t remain with the team after having accepted the head coaching job at the University of Houston, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston.
  • Plans for a new Kings arena in Sacramento took another step forward today as the city won an appeals court ruling allowing it to retain possession of a building that sits on the site where the arena is to be built, as Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee details.
  • Nearly one year removed from a failed attempt to purchase and relocate the Kings franchise, Chris Hansen tells Percy Allen of the Seattle Times: “It’s inevitable Seattle will have a basketball team. It’s just a matter of when…The next time an opportunity comes our way, we’re going to be in a lot better position. We’re not going to have to prove to the NBA that we’re likely to get an arena built. We’ll have a fully-baked, signed off on deal.” 
  • As far as an arena proposal goes, Hansen mentions the EIS (Environmental State Impact) process as one hurdle that needs to be cleared; However, he says that the process is going well and expects it to be settled by this summer at the earliest.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.   

Western Notes: Warriors, Seattle, Rockets

April 2 at 3:30pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Warriors GM Bob Myers thinks coach Mark Jackson has done a “tremendous job” and is supportive of the decision to reassign former assistant coach Brian Scalabrine, as Myers said today on KNBR radio, notes Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group (All Twitter links). Ownership and management have a great relationship with Jackson, Myers also asserted. The reason no one from the Warriors front office has publicly defended Jackson is because the team prefers to have only one spokesperson on the rumors surrounding the coach, according to Myers. Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The group of Seattle investors that came close to purchasing the Kings last season is intact and focused solely on attracting an NBA team to the city, rather than going after an NHL club, primary investor Chris Hansen tells Tim Booth of The Associated Press.
  • Rockets assistant coach and frequent NBA head coaching candidate Kelvin Sampson has agreed to become the head coach at the University of Houston, reports Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. He’s leaving the Rockets after tonight’s game. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported a deal was close.
  • Victor Claver enjoys Portland but he’s not satisfied with his playing time, having seen his minutes cut from 16.6 last year to 8.8 per game this season, as he tells Adriano Correal of Gigantes (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). Claver, under contract with the Blazers for one more season, has denied rumors that he wants to return to Europe.

Kohl Close To Selling Majority Share Of Bucks?

March 20 at 8:02am CDT By Chuck Myron

THURSDAY, 8:02am: There doesn’t appear to be a buyer set to purchase a majority stake in the Bucks, according to Rich Kirchen of the Milwaukee Business Journal. Kirchen hears from a source whose input is remarkably similar to that of a source who spoke to Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this week. Both Kirchen and Walker write that no deal is imminent in spite of a considerable amount of local and national interest in the club. It’s most likely any new investor would purchase a minority share with an option to buy a principal stake when Kohl is ready to step aside, Kirchen observes, though his source wouldn’t rule out the notion that Kohl could give up control of the team soon. A transaction of some kind will probably take place this summer, Kirchen adds.

TUESDAY, 8:28am: Bucks owner Herb Kohl will likely cede control of the franchise in a deal that would bring new ownership aboard, reports Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. It’s not clear exactly who will be taking over the team, but it won’t be anyone who’ll move the Bucks out of Milwaukee, according to Woelfel, who adds that the sale could take place as soon as late April. Kohl recently turned down a pair of groups with interest in moving the team elsewhere, Woelfel notes.

The 79-year-old Kohl had reportedly been looking for investors to buy minority shares of the club, but it now appears as though he’s ready to give up principal ownership, even though he insisted in late 2013 that he “isn’t going anywhere.” There’s a chance the new regime will keep him around in some sort of capacity, perhaps as an ambassador of sorts, Woelfel writes. Kohl has been particularly intent on building a new arena for the team and making it part of his legacy in Wisconsin, the state he represented for decades in the U.S. Senate.

Four “serious suitors” for the club emerged earlier this year, and it appears as though former Timberwolves GM David Kahn is part of a group that constitutes one of those suitors. Woelfel suggests that the new ownership could be around to make decisions in advance of the draft, but there’s usually a period of at least a few months between the time the sale of a team is consummated and official league approval of the deal. Still, it’s not uncommon for incoming ownership to start calling the shots before the league formally transfers power, so perhaps whoever takes control of the Bucks will indeed start molding the team soon after this season ends.

Concerns about the future of the Bucks are part of the reason why the NBA is apparently reluctant to expand anytime soon, with the threat of Seattle as a vacant market around as motivation for civic leaders to acquiesce to demands for a new arena. The Bucks seemingly face an uphill battle to secure public funding from local governments who’ve shown little willingness to play along. It’s not clear whether a new ownership group will change the atmosphere locally or signal the sort of long-term stability for Milwaukee that would lead the NBA to reconsider expansion.

And-Ones: Bucks, Dedmon, Gooden, Pelicans

March 19 at 3:58pm CDT By Chuck Myron

A source tells Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Bucks owner Herb Kohl is receiving considerable nationwide interest from investors who’d like to buy at least a minority share of the team, and many of them are in close proximity to Milwaukee. Kohl is reportedly close to selling a majority stake in the franchise, but Walker hears that no deal is imminent. Sports business experts say the team would be more valuable in another market, Walker writes, but Kohl has been insistent that the team stay in Milwaukee. Here’s more from around the league:

  • Dewayne Dedmon‘s latest contract with the Magic gives him the chance to make the team’s roster next season, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, so presumably that means the deal covers 2014/15 with a non-guaranteed salary.
  • The Wizards didn’t bring Drew Gooden aboard until last month, but they’d been monitoring him since December, tweets J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. Gooden followed a pair of 10-day contracts with a deal Tuesday for the rest of the season.
  • The Pelicans have more than $54MM in commitments for next season, and GM Dell Demps acknowledged that it’s unlikely the team will be a major player on the free agent market, as John Reid of The Times-Picayune observes. Demps also said he doesn’t regret last summer’s Jrue Holiday trade, even though there’s a strong chance it could cost them another lottery pick this year.
  • The Bulls may have to make a few creative cap maneuvers to entice Nikola Mirotic to sign this summer, depending on the dollars-to-euros exchange rate and Real Madrid’s willingness to negotiate the amount of Mirotic’s buyout. Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders has the details.
  • Twelve-year NBA veteran Ricky Davis had been attempting a comeback with the D-League affiliate of the Knicks, but the Erie BayHawks announced that they have cut him loose.

Kings Arena Plan Scores Key Legal Victory

February 27 at 12:36pm CDT By Chuck Myron

A Sacramento Superior Court judge tossed out a lawsuit that two anti-arena groups had brought against the city after it rejected a petition to put public arena funding up for a vote, report Dale Kasler and Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee. An official with one of the groups says there will be no appeal, Lillis and Kasler write in a separate story, likely ending any serious threat to the beginning of construction on a $448MM new home for the Kings.

The team is facing a league-imposed 2017 deadline to open a new building. The NBA has threatened to strip the Kings from principal owner Vivek Ranadive and his partners if they don’t complete the project on schedule, and the league has also mandated that the team show timely progress. However, commissioner Adam Silver recently visited Sacramento and expressed supreme confidence in the team’s ability to deliver an arena ahead of the deadline.

There are other, less threatening legal hurdles still in place, as Kasler and Lillis explain. Many of the same arena opponents have filed a lawsuit claiming the city distorted the actual value of its arena subsidy, which the city maintains is $258MM. The same judge will rule on that case. The city must also certify an environmental impact report, and that could prompt additional legal challenges. Sacramento is also involved in an eminent domain lawsuit over a portion of the land upon which the arena is to be built. Construction is set to begin in the fall, assuming none of these obstacles cause a delay.

Chris Hansen, the principal investor behind Seattle’s effort to land the Kings last year, made a $100K contribution to the anti-arena group’s petition drive. He implored the arena opponents not to use the signatures gathered with the help of his money after his secret donation became public, but those signatures were nonetheless among those submitted to the city.

Kahn Fronts Group Seeking Share Of Bucks

February 18 at 3:27pm CDT By Chuck Myron

3:27pm: Lowe cautions that he didn’t run into either Kahn or anyone from the Bucks this past weekend, so he hasn’t independently confirmed the story, even though he’s heard the rumor over the past few days (Twitter link).

3:20pm: Grantland’s Zach Lowe seconds the report, having heard plenty of chatter about the news at All-Star weekend (Twitter link).

2:53pm: Former Timberwolves GM David Kahn is the front man for a group that’s looking to buy a share of the Bucks from owner Herb Kohl, tweets Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times (Twitter link). Woelfel reported nearly a month ago that there were four “serious suitors” who were considering bids for the team, but Kohl appears to be seeking to add minority owners for now.

Milwaukee might be the league’s most unstable franchise, given the desire of Kohl and the NBA for a new arena. The team’s lease at the Bradley Center, the team’s home for the past quarter-century, expires in 2017. Milwaukee civic leaders have been reluctant to fund upgrades to the existing facility, and while Kohl is “obsessed” with building a new home for the team, as Woelfel wrote last month, it appears securing public funding will be an uphill battle. Concerns about the viability of the Milwaukee market is making the league hesitant to expand to Seattle or anywhere else in the near future.

It’s unclear just how large a stake Kahn and his partners are looking for, or just how much of a role any minority ownership will play in the team’s quest for a new arena. Woelfel pegged the value of the team at anywhere from $380MM to $500MM in his earlier report.

NBA Unlikely To Expand To Seattle Soon

February 12 at 10:29am CDT By Chuck Myron

Concerns about the future of the Bucks in Milwaukee, pending TV negotiations, and dilution of on-court talent have prompted commissioner Adam Silver to tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com that the league has no plan in place to put an expansion team in Seattle. Silver lauded Seattle as a “wonderful” market and says that it would be beneficial to the league to have a team there, but he’s maintains that the league is nonetheless holding off on any expansion.

“I and the owners will look at not only dilution of economic opportunities with one more partner to divide national and international money but also dilution of talent,” Silver said. “Right now are already making comments about the (Eastern Conference), so is the ideal time to be adding another 15 or 30 players to the league? Ultimately I’m responsible for the financial and competitive health of a 30-team league and while we made tremendous strides in the last collective bargaining agreement, we’re still not there yet. We don’t have 30 profitable teams in the NBA and while we’ve made progress, there are still teams that aren’t competitive enough.”

It’s unlikely Silver and the league will seriously consider expansion to any city until the situation in Milwaukee is resolved, Windhorst writes. City leaders have been reluctant to fund maintenance to the Bucks’ existing arena, and it could be an uphill battle for the Bucks to secure public money for a new building. The team’s lease at the Bradley Center expires in 2017.

The willingness of a Seattle investment group fronted by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer to pony up $800MM in their pursuit of the Kings has Mavs owner Mark Cuban eager to infuse their money into the league. Still, the NBA is set to begin negotiations on a new national TV deal, and until it’s known just how much networks are willing to pay for broadcast rights, teams will likely be unwilling to let a new team in on a share of that revenue, Windhorst explains.

Amico On Sonics, Sixers, Wizards, Mavs

February 3 at 5:26pm CDT By Zach Links

Today’s a good day to be a Seattle resident and there could be even more good news on the horizon for the city.  Once commissioner Adam Silver settles into his new job, bringing an NBA team back to Seattle could be at the top of his list, Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio writes.  Whether that’s by relocation or expansion, league sources say, is yet to be determined.  The league is not totally against adding a 31st team and it’s certainly not in favor of relocation.  Here’s more from Amico’s column..

  • In addition to the Suns, the Clippers and Hawks are also intrigued by Sixers trade candidate Evan Turner.  In addition to Turner, the 76ers are also very open to moving forward Thaddeus Young and center Spencer Hawes.
  • The Wizards look to be playoff-bound and are open to making a deal to complement their trio of John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene Hilario.  Amico says that fans shouldn’t be surprised if they get in on the Turner/Young/Hawes sweepstakes before the trade deadline.
  • The Mavericks haven’t been talked about in the rumor mill all that much but they could pull the trigger on a trade between now and February 20th.  The Mavs feel as if they’re a piece away from challenging the likes of the Thunder, Spurs and others, so if they can get Turner for a draft pick they’ll do it.

Odds & Ends: Stern, Lottery, Seattle

January 16 at 5:53pm CDT By Zach Links

In what is expected to be his final press conference as commissioner, David Stern defended the NBA’s draft lottery and dismissed speculation that teams may tank games to earn a better chance at a top pick.  However, he conceded that the system may need some adjustments, writes Mark Woods of ESPNNewYork.com.  ”We made it a bit more slanted to the worst teams, and I think it’s maybe time to look at the lottery and maybe tinker a little more,” he said. “But we’ll see what Commissioner [Adam] Silver wants to do on that.”  More from around the Association..

  • Silver also confirmed that he would be naming a new deputy commissioner within weeks, Woods writes.
  • “Under the right circumstances,” Silver said that he would love to see an NBA team back in Seattle, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.
  • The NBA expects more foreign investors to buy into teams, writes Keith Weir of Reuters.  Wealthy groups in China, the Middle East and Latin America have all been mentioned as potential investors in NBA franchises.  ”We encourage that movement of capital and we think it is inevitable,” Stern said, reflecting on the example set by Mikhail Prokhorov‘s purchase of Nets in 2010.  ”In addition we also have an operating structure with a salary cap that very much blunts the impact of pure dollars or pounds or rubles,” he added.