City of Seattle

And-Ones: Bucks, Oden, McRoberts, Nets

A new arena for the Bucks moved one step closer to reality today, when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill that calls for $250MM of public financing, write Mary Spicuzza And Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Walker has long backed the arena project and said when the bill emerged from the state legislature late last month that he’d sign it. The team must still arrange for a land sale with Milwaukee County and receive approval for construction from the Milwaukee Common Council, Spicuzza and Stein note, but Bucks executives have said that can take place between now and the fall. Groundbreaking must take place soon for the team to stay on schedule to meet a league-imposed deadline, lest the league seize the franchise from its owners and move it elsewhere, but today’s news indicates that the Bucks remain on track to stay in Milwaukee. Here’s more from around the league:

  • Former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden will take part in a weeklong workout later this month for Jiangsu Kentier of the Chinese Basketball Association, the Altius Culture agency tweets. It’ll constitute an audition for the team, the agency indicates. He reportedly drew eyes from the Mavs, Hornets and Grizzlies early in the summer.
  • Josh McRoberts had a frustrating, injury-riddled year for the Heat last season after his breakout campaign for Charlotte in 2013/14, and the subtraction of his nearly $5.544MM salary would go a long way toward preventing the Heat from paying repeater tax penalties this season. Still, he’s eager to return to playing in Miami, as he tells Kyle Neddenriep of his hometown Indianapolis Star“I feel confident and comfortable going back there,” McRoberts said. “I kind of saw how things were last year. I’m excited to be back and part of the team because when you’re hurt, you are kind of isolated on your own. You’re not practicing and playing in games with them every day. I’ve worked with the coaches throughout the summer different times and feel good about the direction we’re headed.”
  • Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov agreed to push back today’s deadline for minority owner Bruce Ratner to pay back his company’s debts to Prokhorov’s company, reports Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg.com (Twitter links). Ratner’s group now has until September 8th to pay or let their 20% share become 8%, with Prokhorov’s group taking over the other 12%.

Bucks Arena Plan Clears Major Hurdle

2:24pm: Walker said today that he’d sign the bill, note Stein and Journal Sentinel colleague Patrick Marley. Feigen expressed measured confidence and said it’s possible for the funding to be secured in time for an autumn groundbreaking.

12:48pm: The public funding plan for a new Bucks arena in Milwaukee has received approval from the Wisconsin State Assembly by a 52-34 vote, reports Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). The measure passed the state senate two weeks ago and now heads to Governor Scott Walker for his signature. Walker has consistently supported the idea of a new building that would keep the team from leaving town.

Should Walker sign the bill, which seems a likely proposition, Milwaukee County must authorize the purchase of the land for the building and the City of Milwaukee must negotiate a lease, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. State, county and city leaders have been under pressure from the league to make sure an arena is ready by the start of the 2017/18 season, with the NBA having threatened to take the team away from owners Marc Lasry, Wesley Edens and Jamie Dinan and sell it to others who would move the team. The public is on the hook for half of the arena’s expected $500MM cost.

Bucks president Peter Feigin released a statement hailing today’s vote. Still, progress toward the arena has been somewhat slow-going, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com wrote in April that the Bucks and civic leaders faced a realistic deadline of June to secure funding. The legislature separated the arena bill from the state budget package last month, a move that bought more time. Windhorst nonetheless indicated that groundbreaking must take place this fall for the plan to remain on schedule.

And-Ones: Las Vegas, Motum, Taylor, Lockout

The success of the summer league in Las Vegas has created hopes that the city may one day have its own NBA team, writes Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Former commissioner David Stern planted the seed during a 2007 meeting with Mayor Oscar Goodman, and the annual summertime gathering has strengthened the city’s position. The 20,000-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena is large enough to house an NBA franchise, and the NHL has started to break down the Las Vegas barrier, announcing recently that the city is a candidate for a future expansion team, along with Seattle and Quebec City. City officials should be patient, though. Celtics president Rich Gotham pointed out that the league has no immediate plans for expansion and that sentiment remains high to put a team in Seattle.

There’s more from around the world of basketball:

  • The Jazz have offered a partially guaranteed contract to forward Brock Motum, tweets Angus Crawford of NBA.com/Australia. Team officials were impressed by his play in the summer league. Motum is “strongly” considering Utah’s offer, but is also listening to teams in Europe (Twitter link).
  • Former Hornet Jeffery Taylor has turned down an offer from Maccabi of the Israeli Premier League, tweets David Pick of Eurobasket.com. The news was relayed by Taylor’s agent, Todd Ramasar.
  • The new contract that Miroslav Raduljica signed with Panathinaikos in the Greek League includes a $500K escape clause, according to Pick (Twitter link). The Serbian briefly played for the Wolves last season.
  • The NBA is risking its historic success with tough labor talk, writes Tim Bontemps of The New York Post. Both the league and the players’ union issued statements this week, reminding everyone that a potential lockout is just two years away.
  • Sixteen teams still have not used their $2.814MM room exception, tweets former Nets executive Bobby Marks.

Latest On Bucks’ New Arena

WEDNESDAY, 6:18pm: The Milwaukee State Senate passed the arena funding bill by a vote of 21-10, and now the proposal will go before the State Assembly for ratification, Jason Stein and Patrick Marley of The Journal Sentinel report. “This deal has taken a lot of work but the Bucks are big bucks for Wisconsin,” said Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), who voted for the plan. “It’s not been easy. It’s not been pretty. But finally we’ve all been at the table.” Bucks team president Peter Feigin released this statement on behalf of the team: “Today’s vote is a significant step forward in our collective effort to build a new sports and entertainment district in Wisconsin. We appreciate the bipartisan leadership in Madison for bringing this transformative partnership one step closer to reality. We’re optimistic that this financing package will receive support in the Assembly and look forward to working with state, county and city officials.

MONDAY, 10:55pm: Plans for a new Bucks arena in Milwaukee face another key hurdle, with the Wisconsin State Senate poised to vote as early as this week on whether to approve the latest public funding proposal, TNT’s David Aldridge writes as part of his Morning Tip column for NBA.com The league previously received a commitment from new owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan, as part of the Bucks’ 2013 sale agreement, that they would work out a deal with the city and state to build a new arena in Milwaukee by 2017, and the league remains committed to the deadline, Aldridge notes. If a new arena is not ready by opening night of the 2017/18 season or doesn’t appear to be on track to meet that goal, the league has the right to buy back the team and put it on the open market, which would presumably include buyers who would move the team out of Milwaukee.

The current ownership group has combined to pledge $150MM toward the construction of the building and former owner Herb Kohl has pledged $100MM toward it. Those totals represent roughly half of what a new arena will cost, so funding remains an obstacle.

The state legislature removed the arena bill, which called for $250MM in public funds to be used toward construction of the arena, from the state’s budget process last week, Aldridge notes. The budget was passed, but the funding of a new building for the Bucks was not addressed, as Aldridge details.

Bucks President Peter Feigin told the state assembly last week that if there is no agreement with the city and state in place over the next few months, the likelihood of the team ultimately moving out of Milwaukee is strong, Aldridge notes.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who officially entered the 2016 presidential race earlier today, several weeks ago announced the latest plan, which would use various public funding mechanisms to help foot the cost of the arena on a site north of the team’s current arena, according to Aldridge. Getting a deal done was always a goal of Walker’s. With his hat in the ring for the GOP nomination, keeping the team in Milwaukee, along with the good press that it would bring, may be an even greater priority for him, although that is simply my speculation.

The proposal would have the city of Milwaukee kicking in $47MM, with Milwaukee County kicking in another $55MM, Aldridge notes. The bulk of the remaining funding would come through new debt issuance by the Wisconsin Center District, a governmental body in charge of several downtown Milwaukee venues, Aldridge explains. That Center District funding is estimated to be $93MM, Aldridge writes.

The majority of the Republican-controlled state legislature supports the arena measure, Aldridge adds, but the bill will need the support of several Democratic state senators. Among their concerns is the new debt that would be assumed by the Center District, Aldridge notes.

Potential buyers of the Bucks, should the team be put on the open market, are keeping a close eye on the situation, as Aldridge points out. Hedge fund billionaire Chris Hansen, who led the group in 2013 that nearly bought the Kings and relocated them to Seattle, is working to bring an NHL team to Seattle. Hansen’s hope is that if he can get a new arena built to house the NHL team, it would help the city bring an NBA team back to town.

The Bucks understand the deadline that the NBA set is fast approaching.

“I don’t think this is a well-kept secret in the state of Wisconsin,” Feigin told Aldridge. “…The NBA, as part of the purchase agreement, put language in to make us build a new arena within a set time frame. That is not new news. We’ve been up front about that. I think the timing of it, and the reality of it when it’s the ninth inning, that people might misconstrue that as leverage or threatening. It’s not. It’s just the fact that for the Bucks to stay in the state of Wisconsin, we will need to construct a new arena.”

The Bucks have taken huge strides in becoming a legitimate contender. Every day that goes by without a funding deal for a new arena in Milwaukee increases the likelihood that this up-and-coming team will reach its peak in a different city.

Central Notes: Prigioni, Bucks Arena, Draft

The Cavaliers made an aggressive play at trading for Pablo Prigioni at the deadline, a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post. Instead, the Knicks sent him to the Rockets instead, leaving Cleveland’s backup point guard duties to Matthew Dellavedova. That worked out just fine for the Cavs on Sunday, when Dellavedova, set for restricted free agency this summer, started in place of the injured Kyrie Irving and hit the game-winning free throws. There’s more on the Cavs, who’ll look to take the lead in the Finals on Tuesday, amid the latest from the Central Division:

  • The deal that state, county and city leaders struck last week for a new Bucks arena must still meet Wisconsin Legislature and Milwaukee Common Council approval, so construction remains far from assured, as Tom Daykin of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out. Still, the Bucks have promised to pay for operating and maintenance costs by selling naming rights, as Daykin examines. The NBA is pressuring the sides to ensure a new building, lest the league exercise its right to buy the team and move it to another city.
  • UNLV power forward Christian Wood will be among those working out for the Cavs today, league sources tell Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (Twitter link).
  • Scotto also hears that Syracuse big man Rakeem Christmas will show off for the Pistons today (Twitter link). North Carolina shooting guard J.P. Tokoto, Virginia power forward Darion Atkins, Georgetown small forward Greg Whittington, and point guards Marcus Thornton from William & Mary and Pierria Henry of Charlotte will be in Detroit’s workout, too, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com (Twitter links).

Bucks, Milwaukee Leaders Near Arena Deal

Bucks team president Peter Feigin and Milwaukee leaders all said today that sides are close to a deal for the public’s share of funding for a new Bucks arena in the city, Scott Bauer of The Associated Press reports. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker expressed the same sentiments at the beginning of the month, though negotiations continue. Feigin and city leaders expressed optimism today that talks can result in a deal by the end of the week, and a key state legislator said the goal is to announce a deal Wednesday, Bauer tweets, though Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett added that there’s still work to be done, as Bauer writes in his story.

The Bucks face an NBA-imposed deadline to have an arena ready by opening night in 2017, and funding has to be secured by June in order for the project to remain on track, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com wrote recently. The league, should it determine at any point that the arena effort is not moving swiftly enough, intends to exercise its right to seize the team from owners Wesley Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan and seek to move it elsewhere, according to Windhorst. Commissioner Adam Silver has nonetheless publicly maintained confidence that public funding will come.

Feigin backed off an assertion in late April that a deal for public funding had to be done within 10 days from that point. State, county and city leaders have been squabbling over how to finance their $250MM share of the proposed $500MM arena. The Bucks owners, as well as former owner principal owner Herb Kohl, have committed the other $250MM.

Governor Says Bucks Arena Deal Close

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said that he believes sides are nearing an agreement that would secure the public’s share of funding for a new Bucks arena in Milwaukee, The Associated Press reports. Bucks president Peter Feigin said 10 days ago that he wanted to see negotiations wrap up by today, and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com wrote recently that funding had to be secured by June for the team to remain on course to satisfy the NBA’s demands for a new building. The NBA has imposed a November 2017 deadline for the arena to be in place and the league intends to exercise its right to seize control of the franchise from owners Wesley Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan and relocate it if construction doesn’t begin soon, according to Windhorst.

Walker’s proposal earlier this year for a $220MM bonding plan that would draw from a “jock tax” on players and other team personnel met with stiff opposition from the Wisconsin legislature, which instead is proposing a $150MM plan for the $500MM arena. Current Bucks ownership and former owner Herb Kohl have pledged a combined $250MM toward the building.

Bucks officials and state and local leaders have been meeting to try to hammer out a deal, and Walker joined the talks Thursday, the AP notes. Commissioner Adam Silver has publicly maintained an upbeat tone regarding the future of the team in Milwaukee and said last week that he maintained faith that a funding deal would come.

Central Notes: Butler, Bucks, Irving

The Pistons are just a game out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and if they continue their surge, four Central Division teams will be in line to make the postseason. The Central was supposed to boast the class of the East in the Bulls and the Cavs, but as they languish in the middle of the playoff pack, here’s the latest from around the division:

  • The Bulls will match any offer sheet that Jimmy Butler would sign this summer, as executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson said in appearance Thursday on ESPN Chicago radio’s Waddle and Silvy program, notes Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com (Twitter link). That’s no surprise, since the Bulls reportedly plan to make Butler a maximum-salary offer of their own that they hope will forestall the restricted free agent from negotiating with any other team. Paxson also confirmed that the Bulls are interested in Ray Allen and have been in contact with his agent, Jim Tanner, notes Bear Heiser of Fox Sports West (on Twitter).
  • Commissioner Adam Silver made it clear to Seattle mayor Ed Murray that the NBA envisions the Bucks staying put, dispelling Murray’s notion that the Bucks were a candidate to move if the team failed to make progress on a new arena in Milwaukee, as Murray tells Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. The Bucks have until fall 2017 to have an arena in place, and if they don’t, the NBA has the option to take control of the team from its new owners. Seattle investor Chris Hansen is facing a November 2017 deadline to secure an NBA team for the city, lest a promise of civic funding expire.
  • Kyrie Irving finished fourth in fan voting for the two Eastern Conference starting backcourt spots in the All-Star Game, so he missed out on his best chance to trigger the Derrick Rose rule and up the salaries on the five-year extension that kicks in for him next season. That rule allows players who sign rookie scale extensions to make a starting salary worth approximately 30%, instead of just 25%, of the salary cap. Irving agreed to take only 27.5% if he were to qualify, which can now happen only in the unlikely event he wins MVP this season.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Dawkins, Rice, Silas

The Hawks are the only Eastern Conference team with fewer than 10 losses, and tonight they’ll host the Grizzlies, one of three Western Conference clubs with that distinction. Atlanta’s unexpected surge to the top of the East comes against the backdrop of the sale of the team, and with several new would-be owners surfacing, there’s yet more news on the state of the franchise amid the latest from around the Southeast Division:

  • NBA spokesman Mike Bass made it clear today that the Hawks will stay put even as the club is up for sale, as Bass told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). “The Atlanta Hawks are not moving to another market,” Bass said. A pair of investors reportedly want to buy the team and move it to Seattle.
  • The Heat have expressed interest in re-signing Andre Dawkins to a 10-day contract “down the road,” agent John Spencer told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, who writes in his daily notes column. The Heat waived Dawkins on Tuesday.
  • Glen Rice Jr. had trouble accepting criticism from coaches, but other Wizards players didn’t think he was a poor teammate, according to J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. Michael wrote this past weekend that Rice’s attitude was an issue that contributed to the team’s decision to cut ties.
  • Wizards camp invitee Xavier Silas has signed with Greece’s Nea Kifisia, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). Silas averaged 10.3 points in 19.3 minutes per game for Washington during the preseason before the team waived him prior to opening night.

Hansen, Tull Want To Move Hawks To Seattle

Investor Chris Hansen and financier Thomas Tull are planning to make separate bids to buy the Hawks and move them to Seattle, according to Grantland’s Bill Simmons (Twitter link). Still, the existing owners of the Hawks, who’ve reportedly agreed to sell 100% of the team, want the club to stay in Atlanta, Simmons notes. Anyone who buys the team probably won’t have a chance to relocate it, given the NBA’s desire to stay in the Atlanta market, as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote amid last week’s reports. Other reports about the sale of the club have consistently indicated that it’s highly unlikely the team changes location.

Hansen teamed with Steve Ballmer to close a deal with the Maloof family to purchase the Kings in 2013, but the NBA rejected the bid and instead awarded the Kings to Vivek Ranadive and his investment team, who pledged to keep the franchise in Sacramento. Ballmer, who since then purchased the Clippers for a record $2 billion, was the primary financial backer of the Hansen-fronted bid, and the pair reportedly offered $650MM to buy the Bucks earlier this year, $100MM more than the team eventually sold for. Still, Hansen has forged ahead with plans to attract NBA and NHL teams to the Emerald City.

Tull is the founder and CEO of Legendary Entertainment, a film production company. He’s owns a minority share of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Another “name to watch” in regard to the Hawks sale is Jesse Itzler, according to Simmons (on Twitter). Itzler is a former rap artist who made his fortune with a private plane rental business.

A league source told Grantland’s Zach Lowe last week that the Hawks would likely go for between $750MM and $1 billion, though it appears the price is more likely to end up on the low end of that scale. Others who reportedly have interest in buying the team include former players Dominique Wilkins, Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber, former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien and attorney Doug Davis

Get the hottest NBA news and rumors before anyone else! Follow us on Twitter to stay updated: