Marc Lasry

Marc Lasry To Sell Stake In Bucks To Haslam Sports Group

Marc Lasry has reached an agreement to sell his stake in the Bucks to Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and his Haslam Sports Group, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The sale agreement will value the Bucks at $3.5 billion.

Milwaukee’s $3.5 billion valuation is second only to the $4 billion purchase price that Mat Ishbia paid for the Suns, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link). He notes that it’s also the third-highest ever for a U.S. sports franchise, also trailing the price paid for the Denver Broncos last year.

Lasry owns about 25% of the Bucks and shares controlling owner responsibilities with Wes Edens. Since buying the franchise in 2014, they have served alternating five-year terms as the primary owner. Lasry has been in that role since 2019. His interest in selling was first reported in December, and he talked to Ishbia about buying the team before he purchased the Suns.

Haslam, 68, had considered buying a stake in hte Bucks for several months and had several meetings with the parties involved before a deal was reached, according to Charania. Sources tell Charania that Haslam will continue to seek sports-related business opportunities and may consider buying a professional team in another league.

The Bucks became one of the NBA’s best teams under Lasry and Edens, capturing the second championship in franchise history in 2021. The owners also opened the Fiserv Forum in 2018, which led to a thriving business area around it known as the Deer District.

Haslam and his wife Dee are the controlling owners of the Browns and the Columbus Crew of the MLS. He is the chairman of the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain.

Jimmy Haslam In Talks To Buy Marc Lasry’s Share Of Bucks

Jimmy Haslam and his Haslam Sports Group are in advanced talks to buy Marc Lasry‘s stake in the Bucks, people familiar with the negotiations tell Eben Novy-Williams of Sportico.

Haslam, the chairman of the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain, and his wife Dee are the controlling owners of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and the Columbus Crew of the MLS. According to Novy-Williams, the Haslams are interested in expanding their professional sports portfolio and previously expressed interest in buying the Timberwolves.

Lasry, who owns about 25% of the Bucks, shares controlling owner responsibilities with fellow co-owner Wes Edens. The two co-owners have had an agreement since buying the franchise in 2014 to alternate five-year stints as the primary owner. Edens was in that role from 2014-19 and Lasry has occupied it since 2019, so he has about another year-and-a-half before handing it back to Edens.

Reports in December indicated that Lasry was mulling selling his stake in the team and had spoken to Mat Ishbia about a possible deal before Ishbia reached an agreement to buy the Suns. The Haslam Sports Group has been in talks with Lasry for the last few months, Novy-Williams writes, though he cautions there’s no guarantee a deal will be completed.

The Suns’ sale to Ishbia has led to speculation that we could see more NBA franchises – or minority stakes – change hands in the near future. The Suns were valued at $4 billion in that sale agreement, well above the $2.7 billion estimate Forbes published in the fall. With a new media rights deal around the corner and the possibility of expansion looming, the prices of NBA teams appear to be on the rise, which could make it a good time for current majority and minority stakeholders to cash out.

Forbes valued the Bucks at $2.3 billion in October, but presumably Lasry would be able to secure a higher valuation if he were to sell his portion of the team. He and Edens – along with a handful of minority investors, including Jamie Dinan – purchased the club from Herb Kohl for a reported sale price of $550MM in 2014.

Bucks Notes: Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Lasry

Giannis Antetokounmpo will sit out for the fourth consecutive game due to left knee soreness when the Bucks play Toronto on Tuesday, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets.

However, it appears Antetokounmpo has a good chance to be back in action for the Bucks’ next game. Milwaukee doesn’t play again until Saturday, when it visits the Cavaliers. The team has gone 1-2 with Antetokounmpo resting his knee.

We have more on the Bucks:

  • Khris Middleton came back from wrist surgery, then dealt with a right knee injury. He admits it’s been a rough stretch for him physically, Nehm writes. “Rehab is tougher than actually playing games,” Middleton said. “More hours in the gym, harder stuff. Games are fun. You’re in and out. I won’t say easier, but games are supposed to be easier than practices and stuff like that, so I’m ready to put this (stuff) behind me and move on to the fun stuff.” Middleton has only appeared in seven games this season, with his most recent outing on Dec. 15.
  • A previous report revealed that team governor and co-owner Marc Lasry was looking to sell his stake in the franchise. Now, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that while he’s in no rush to sell off his portion of ownership, Lasry likely remains willing to sell at a high valuation. The Bucks have been valued by Forbes at $2.3 billion.
  • In case you missed it, the Bucks are among several teams interested in the Pistons’ leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic. Get the details here.

Bucks’ Lasry Reportedly Looking To Sell Stake In Team

Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry is actively looking to sell his stake in the franchise, Marc Stein reports on Substack.

Stein referenced the possibility of a shake-up within the Bucks’ ownership group earlier this week, writing that “whispers have been circulating with increasing frequency” that Lasry could be open to selling his share of the team. His latest report suggests in strongest terms that it’s something to keep a close eye on in 2023.

Sources tell Stein that Lasry may end up selling his stake to his co-owner, Wes Edens, which would allow Edens to assume full controlling ownership of the franchise.

However, Lasry is also open to other options, according to Stein, who notes that The Ringer’s Bill Simmons recently reported on his podcast that Mat Ishbia spoke to Lasry about purchasing his stake in the Bucks before reaching an agreement to buy the Suns from Robert Sarver.

The Suns’ sale to Ishbia has led to speculation that we could see more NBA franchises – or minority stakes – change hands in the near future. The Suns were valued at $4 billion in that sale agreement, well above the $2.7 billion estimate Forbes published in the fall. With a new media rights deal around the corner and the possibility of expansion looming, the prices of NBA teams appear to be on the rise, which could make it a good time for current majority and minority stakeholders to cash out.

Forbes valued the Bucks at $2.3 billion in October, but presumably Lasry would be able to secure a higher valuation if he were to sell his portion of the team. He and Edens – along with a handful of minority investors, including Jamie Dinan – purchased the club from Herb Kohl for a reported sale price of $550MM in 2014.

Stein’s Latest: Kuzma, Tampering, Lasry, Rockets, Wood

There’s a rising belief around the NBA that Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma will be “gettable” prior to this season’s trade deadline, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack story.

Based on the whispers he has heard, Stein has a hard time envisioning Kuzma wanting to remain in D.C. beyond this season. If the Wizards have heard those same rumblings and consider them credible, it would make sense for the club to recoup some value for the standout forward on the trade market rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer.

Kuzma is enjoying a career year in his second full season with the Wizards, averaging 21.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 3.5 APG in his first 33 games (35.4 MPG). He has a $13MM player option for 2023/24, but has already indicated that he plans to decline it to become an unrestricted free agent.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • The penalties the NBA has handed out for tampering and free agency gun jumping have been widely regarded as toothless, Stein writes. “If second-round picks are the only punishment,” one general manager said, “nothing will ever change.” As Stein observes, the NBA made a show of instituting more punitive anti-tampering rules in 2019, but hasn’t taken full advantage of those new measures, including the ability to fine teams up to $10MM for instances of “egregious” tampering.
  • There’s has been increased chatter about the possibility that Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry is open to selling his share of the franchise, Stein writes. Lasry and Wes Edens have been the team’s primary owners since 2014.
  • Although it seems unlikely that the Rockets would welcome a reunion with James Harden, given how his last stint with the franchise ended, Stein notes that Houston’s rebuild has progressed slowly so far and says team owner Tilman Fertitta is widely believed to be “antsy” to accelerate the process and return to contention. If that’s true, the Rockets could be in the market for veteran help with their cap room next summer even if Harden doesn’t return.
  • The “consistent signals emanating from Dallas” in the early part of this season have suggested that a contract extension for Christian Wood is unlikely, according to Stein. Still, he points out that the Mavericks big man has been playing well as of late and had some encouraging moments on defense without needing to play alongside Maxi Kleber.

Bucks Co-Owner Lasry Talks Budenholzer, Jrue, Tax, More

After watching the Bucks win a championship for the first time in 50 years during the 2020/21 season, co-owner Marc Lasry is confident that the team will remain in the mix for a title again in ’21/22. Lasry told Sam Amick and Anthony Slater of The Athletic that he views the Bucks and Nets as the top two teams in the East entering the fall.

Asked if the Heat – who eliminated the Bucks from the playoffs in 2020 – are in that top tier alongside Milwaukee and Brooklyn, Lasry praised Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and P.J. Tucker, calling Miami a “really good” team. However, he said he believes the Bucks are better.

“Ultimately at the end of the day I’d rather have our team,” Lasry said. “… If we’re healthy, you know we should go pretty far.

“But I would say the same thing (about other teams). If the Nets are healthy, they should go pretty far. It’s who’s going to be the healthiest when you get there. And it’s been interesting trying to figure out (that part) because I bet you there’s going to be a lot of gaming of this… You want to be the No. 1 seed, but do you want to be the No. 1 seed, or do you want to make sure you’re the healthiest going into the playoffs?”

Lasry’s appearance on The Athletic’s Tampering podcast touched on several other topics of note. The discussion is worth checking out in full, but here are a few highlights from the Bucks’ co-owner, via Amick and Slater:

On head coach Mike Budenholzer getting a contract extension after being on the hot seat:

“Bud is really good. I mean, he is. He does have that quiet confidence, which is nice. So I think you go through all of this, and one of the things that I saw — and I told this to Bud — was I said, ‘Look, there was a huge amount of pressure on us, on him, on all of us, because everybody expects you to win.’ And what he showed us during that time is how well he handled the pressure, how well he prepared the team, and what a great job he did, so that after we won, we were like, ‘Look, it’s not like we want to reward you; we want to keep you.'”

On the 2020 acquisition of Jrue Holiday and how it influenced Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s decision to sign a long-term extension with the Bucks:

“(General manager) Jon Horst felt that (Holiday) was going to be the missing piece, and he was dead right. You know, I remember the first practice and Jrue is covering Giannis. And same thing — Giannis knew Jrue by reputation. After practice that day, Jon says to me, ‘Yeah, Giannis now knows how good he is. (Holiday’s) covering him. He’s good.’ It was actually great. It was. And I think 100 percent it was a huge factor in Giannis re-signing because he saw what we were willing to do.”

On the Bucks becoming a taxpayer in 2020/21 and going further into the tax in ’21/22:

“Look, (the tax) is a big part. I’m not going to tell you it’s not. I mean, it’s just — if you sign somebody for $5MM, you’re not signing him for $5MM, you’re signing him for $25MM, $20MM. You sort of look at that, and you’re trying to figure out, ‘Alright, look, if we’re going to do that, OK, there is a cost to it. Yeah, we want him, but that’s going to cost us $25MM or that’ll cost us $35MM.’ I mean, whatever the numbers are. And I think we’re very focused on that.

“Look, we’re a small-market team. It’s expensive. I mean, for us, this year we’re going to lose quite a bit of money. … But at the end of the day, the goal is that you want to keep winning a championship, so you’re going to spend the money.”

And-Ones: Social Justice Board, Boatright, Jazz, Moore

Carmelo Anthony, Avery Bradley, Sterling Brown, Donovan Mitchell and Karl-Anthony Towns are the players chosen to serve on the league’s Social Justice Coalition Board, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania (Twitter links).

The NBA and NBPA agreed to create the group to advance equality and social justice after teams walked out of games in late August to protest a police shooting. Commissioner Adam Silver, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, as well as owners Micky Arison, Steve Ballmer, Clay Bennett, Marc Lasry and Vivek Randadive and coaches Lloyd Pierce and Doc Rivers.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Ryan Boatright has signed with Lithuanian club team BC Rytas Vilnius, the team tweets. Boatright, 28, played in Europe last season after spending time in the G League during the 2018/19 season. The former University of Connecticut guard also played in Italy, China and Turkey.
  • The sale price of the Jazz bodes well for the league’s franchise valuations, Bill Shea of The Athletic notes. The team, along with an arena and a couple of minor-league teams, were sold to Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith for $1.66 billion, and the league’s owners are expected to approve the sale. The valuation falls in line with expectations and doesn’t reflect any pandemic discount, Shea continues. It also reinforces the notion that team values keep going up.
  • Former Pacers forward Ben Moore has signed with South East Melbourne Phoenix of Australia’s NBL, according to the team. Moore is expected to join the club for preseason training next month. Moore, who also spent time in the Spurs organization, logged two games with Indiana during the 2017/18 season.

Details On Giannis’ Meeting With Marc Lasry

After Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported over the weekend that Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo met with franchise co-owner Marc Lasry to discuss the direction of the franchise, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has provided a few details on that meeting.

According to Wojnarowski, the three-hour lunch meeting covered both the 2019/20 season and how the Bucks can improve their roster going forward, with the two men brainstorming personnel moves that might be possible this offseason. Lasry confirmed to Antetokounmpo that the Bucks are willing to spend into the luxury tax to make upgrades, Woj notes.

The Bucks’ approach to Malcolm Brogdon‘s free agency last offseason would seem to contradict the assertion that the team is ready and willing to cross the tax threshold, but Milwaukee was known to have some long-term health concerns about Brogdon. Team ownership may also be more comfortable paying an annual tax bill once Giannis has been locked up long-term.

According to Wojnarowski, Antetokounmpo and Lasry agreed to talk again after the reigning MVP returns from vacation.

While speculation figures to run rampant this offseason about Antetokounmpo’s future and the possibility of him changing teams, he said at season’s end that he has no intention of asking to be traded. The Bucks will also retain the ability to pay him significantly more on a long-term deal than any other team can, regardless of exactly how much their super-max extension offer ends up being worth.

Giannis’ current contract runs through the 2020/21 season.

Bucks Co-Owner: Vote On NBA Return May Happen “Early Next Week”

A frequent guest on CNBC, Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry appeared on the network’s ‘Halftime’ show on Thursday and was asked about the next steps for the NBA’s potential return, as Jabari Young of CNBC details. According to Lasry, the expectation is that commissioner Adam Silver will present the NBA’s Board of Governors with potential formats for a return to play on Friday’s conference call, with a decision potentially coming next week.

[RELATED: Board of Governors meeting unlikely to yield final plan]

“I think that will happen tomorrow is that Adam’s going to recommend to the board the different options that we’re going to have about reopening,” Lasry said. “And I think the board will think about it over the weekend and then hopefully have another meeting early next week to vote on what we all feel will be the reopening of the NBA.”

As Lasry acknowledged during the interview, the NBA seems to be zeroing in on Walt Disney World in Florida as the lone host for the resumption of the season. However, there’s still plenty of uncertainty about what form the league’s return will take.

“I think at the end of the day, we’ll be in Orlando at Disney,” Lasry said. “The question is going to be: Will we have all 30 teams there? Will we have 24? Whatever the number will end up being. But hopefully, by the middle of July, we start playing again.”

Of course, even if the NBA’s Board of Governors votes in favor of a certain format, that plan would also need to be approved by the National Basketball Players Association before the league can move forward. All sides have been working closely together throughout the coronavirus pandemic, so while some negotiations may be required, they’re unlikely to get as contentious as the talks between Major League Baseball teams and players.

Bucks Co-Owner: NBA Could Resume Play Within 6-8 Weeks

Appearing today on CNBC, Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry said he thinks the NBA is getting “a lot closer” to a potential return, adding that he believes games could resume sometime in early-to-mid July.

“I think we’ll have something, hopefully within the next six-to-eight weeks, we should be playing,” Lasry said on ‘Halftime Report,’ per Jabari Young of CNBC.

A report from Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic on Wednesday suggested the most popular scenario discussed by the NBA as of late would see the 2019/20 season resume in mid-July. Lasry’s projected timeline matches up with that report — eight weeks from today would be July 16.

Adding fuel to that fire, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie tweeted this afternoon that he’s heard rumblings about a July 15 resumption, with Marc Stein of The New York Times noting (via Twitter) that many people around the league are “buzzing about the same rough time frame.”

Charania and Amick also said on Wednesday that Orlando has emerged as the “clear frontrunner” to host the NBA’s return. Lasry didn’t dispute that, though he indicated that he thinks the NBA might opt for a two-site approach, with Eastern teams playing in Orlando and Western teams in Las Vegas.

The NBA itself hasn’t made any announcements on potential plans, but there have been signals within the last couple days that momentum is building toward a formal update from the league within the next week or two. According to Young, Lasry noted today that the NBA has a Board of Governors call scheduled for next Friday.

“I’m sure we’ll be talking about it then,” the Bucks’ co-owner said.