Marc Lasry

And-Ones: Kohl, Holland, Sellers, G League, Goodwin

Former Bucks owner and Wisconsin senator Herb Kohl passed away this week at age 88, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic, who takes a look back at Kohl’s legacy in Milwaukee. Part of that legacy, Nehm notes, involves selling the Bucks to Marc Lasry and Wes Edens and ensuring that they would keep the franchise in Milwaukee.

“His goal was to make sure that if we bought the team, that the team stayed in Milwaukee. That was the requisite for us owning the team,” Lasry told Nehm. “He cared deeply about the city, about the people and he cared deeply about the Bucks.”

In order to keep the Bucks in town, the team needed to build a new arena to replace the aging Bradley Center. While Lasry and Edens received some public funding and paid a portion of the arena cost themselves after spending $550MM on the franchise, an extra $100MM from Kohl helped push the project over the finish line.

“In an extraordinary gesture, he basically gave to us, towards the building of the arena, a $100 million gift,” Edens said. “And I think it’s one of the most extraordinary acts, philanthropically sports-related that I’m aware of, maybe the most. He gave us $100 million. … And I think that his $100 million was really the pivotal amount at the time. And had that not happened, then it was very likely the Bucks would be in Las Vegas or Seattle or wherever else they might be. So it’s extraordinary.”

“It was very important to him for us to keep the team in Milwaukee,” Lasry added. “He ended up giving us $100 million to build a new arena. And we had said to him, ‘Is there anything you want? Should we name it the Kohl Center? Is there anything you want us to do?’ And he was like, ‘No, no, this is for the community. This isn’t about me. This is about what’s good for Milwaukee.'”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In a conversation with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, G League Ignite prospect Ron Holland compared himself to NBA players Mikal Bridges and Jaylen Brown and explains why he believe he’s the top player in the 2024 draft class. Holland was atop ESPN’s 2024 draft rankings earlier this year, but has since slipped to No. 6.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic considers which teams will emerge as buyers and sellers in the coming weeks, noting that it would create some clarity if one team from the trio of the Bulls, Hawks, and Raptors begins pulling away with the No. 10 seed in the East, forcing the other two to become sellers.
  • Within the same Athletic story, Hollinger observes that the annual G League Showcase in December used to provide teams with an opportunity to scout potential call-up candidates, but with so many of those players now on two-way contracts, the NBAGL talent pool isn’t as deep as it once was. Teams these days are more inclined to use the Showcase to get a closer look at players who are already on NBA contracts in order to gain more information for future transactions, per Hollinger. Still, Brandon Goodwin, the MVP of the event, is one notable free agent who boosted his stock at the Showcase and looks like a candidate for a 10-day deal next month, Hollinger adds.

Central Notes: Giannis, Lasry, Pacers, Travers

The Bucks are optimistic that Giannis Antetokounmpo will be able to return from his back injury for Game 2, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. It’s a “pain-tolerance issue,” Charania states, noting that the team “played it safe” by removing him from Sunday’s contest. Charania adds that the injury might be an ongoing concern even if Antetokounmpo is able to play Wednesday, and he’s dealing with a wrist ligament issue as well.

Antetokounmpo landed on his tailbone after a drive to the basket early in the game, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He returned to the court in the second quarter, but was moving awkwardly, prompting coach Mike Budenholzer to replace him to prevent any further damage. X-rays were negative, but the team isn’t sure what Antetokounmpo’s condition will be when the series resumes.

“We have to wait and see what the doctor says, most importantly, what Giannis says,” Budenholzer said Sunday. “Certainly we’ve been blessed with him being incredibly resilient and quick to heal, but you just got to take it day by day and see how he’s doing and see how he feels.” 

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • In another Journal Sentinel story, former Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry talks to Owczarski about his decision to sell his stake in the franchise to the Haslam Sports Group. Lasry helped Milwaukee become one of the league’s most successful teams during nine years as an owner. “It’s been a phenomenal experience,” he said. “I think the city of Milwaukee has been great. I’ve been surprised at sort of how welcoming and how nice the people of Milwaukee are. They welcomed us when we came here. I think we’ve been able to establish roots here. It’s been a pretty unique experience.”
  • The Pacers prioritized the development of their young players this year, but they will approach the 2023/24 season with the goal of reaching the postseason, per Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “Next year, we want to be in the playoffs,” Tyrese Haliburton said. “We’re not going to short-change that at all. We know that’s what we want to do. That’s 100% the goal going into next year.”
  • Australian swingman Luke Travers, who was selected by the Cavaliers with the 56th pick in last year’s draft, has signed a three-year deal with Melbourne United in the NBL, writes Olgun Uluc of ESPN. It’s not clear if the deal includes an opt-out clause, but Travers said he moved from Perth to Melbourne to improve his NBA prospects. “It’s the track record they have of developing guys to the NBA,” Travers explained.

Haslam Completes Purchase Of Lasry’s Stake In Bucks

1:34pm: In a press release formally announcing the sale of Lasry’s stake to Haslam, the Bucks clarified that Edens will be the team’s governor for the next five years.

10:24am: The Haslam Sports Group has closed its purchase of Lasry’s stake in the Bucks, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Eben Novy-Williams of Sportico (subscription required). That source says the deal values the Bucks at closer to $3.2 billion than the previously reported $3.5 billion figure.

10:17am: Jimmy Haslam, Dee Haslam, and their Haslam Sports Group will officially become part of the Bucks‘ ownership group on Friday, according to Shams Charania and Eric Nehm of The Athletic, who report that the Haslams are set to complete his purchase of Marc Lasry‘s stake in the franchise.

Lasry agreed in February to sell his share of the team at a $3.5 billion valuation to the Haslams, who are also the controlling owners of the Cleveland Browns (NFL) and the Columbus Crew (MLS). Lasry reportedly owned about 25% of the Bucks, which would put the Haslams’ investment in the range of $875MM.

Scott Soshnick of Sportico reported (via Twitter) a couple weeks ago that the sale agreement had been approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors.

Prior to cashing out, Lasry shared the Bucks’ controlling owner responsibilities with Wes Edens. When they bought the franchise in 2014, they agreed to serve alternating five-year terms as the primary governor — Edens assumed that role from 2014-19 and Lasry took it over in 2019. Speaking at the NFL owners’ meetings in Arizona last month, Jimmy Haslam stated that Edens would reclaim that role while Haslam learns the ropes of NBA ownership.

The Haslams’ purchase of Lasry’s stake in the Bucks won’t have the same sort of immediate impact that Mat Ishbia‘s purchase of the Suns did in February. Ishbia signed off on a trade for Kevin Durant within days of taking control of the team, but if Milwaukee enjoys a deep playoff run, it will still be at least a month or two before the club is even permitted to make its next roster move.

Still, as Nehm observes in The Athletic’s report, it will be interesting to see what sort of effect – if any – the new co-owner’s involvement has on the Bucks’ financial and personnel decisions this summer and beyond. The ownership group has become increasingly willing in recent years to pay sizable luxury tax bills with the Bucks in perennial contention for championships.

Next year’s tax bill could be the team’s biggest yet if key free agents like Brook Lopez, Jae Crowder, and Joe Ingles are retained. Khris Middleton and Jevon Carter also hold player options for 2023/24.

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.