The Raptors, Wizards and Bulls are in a three-way tie atop the Eastern Conference, a pair of them clash tonight with Washington in Toronto. The two surprise teams from last year’s Eastern Conference playoffs took somewhat divergent paths this past summer, as the Wizards replaced Trevor Ariza with Paul Pierce while the Raptors retained Kyle Lowry and are mostly intact from 2013/14. We’ll have an early read on which approach was better by night’s end, but for now, here’s the latest from around the Eastern Conference:
- Bucks majority partners Wesley Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan, along with former owner Herb Kohl, have pledged an estimated $300MM toward the roughly $420MM cost of a new arena in Milwaukee, according to Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. That’s up from the approximately $200MM the current and former owners were set to invest in the building when the sale of the team took place this past spring. The new total includes a “major” contribution from Dinan, who joined the partnership this summer, as well as additional money from Edens and Lasry, and the Bucks are expected to raise yet more funding through a naming rights deal, Woelfel writes. The NBA has the right to take control of the Bucks if there isn’t significant progress toward construction by fall 2017, but it appears most of the arena will be privately financed, as Woelfel points out.
- The Bulls have remained in contact with representatives for Ray Allen, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes in his mailbag column. An early September report identified the Bulls as one of many suitors for the Jim Tanner client, who recently made a non-basketball-related trip to Chicago.
- Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders recounts the journey of Travis Wear, who went from 2009 McDonald’s All-American to undrafted this past summer before the Knicks, who’d begun to eye him even before the draft this year, gave him a chance. Voluntary workouts prior to training camp were the key to Wear’s ability to win a spot on the opening-night roster, as Beer details.