Wesley Edens

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.

Central Notes: Haslam, Hield, Omoruyi, Bulls

Appearing at the NFL owners’ meetings in Arizona this week, Jimmy Haslam spoke publicly for the first time about his impeding purchase of Marc Lasry‘s stake in the Bucks, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Because the sale hasn’t been officially finalized, Haslam declined to get into specifics, but he did tell reporters that Bucks co-owner Wes Edens would reclaim his role as the team’s governor while the Haslams learn the ropes of NBA ownership. Under the previous agreement, Edens and Lasry traded the governor title every five years — Edens held it from 2014-19.

Haslam, the owner of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns along with his wife Dee, described his purchase of a stake in the Bucks as “opportunistic,” Owczarski relays.

“I mean listen, we never thought we’d own 10% of the Steelers. Never thought we’d own the Browns. Dee and I had never been, beside watching (daughter) Whitney play high school soccer, had never been to a soccer game,” said Haslam, who also owns the Columbus Crew (MLS). “So it’s just opportunistic. It was straightened set of circumstances; we were called on this opportunity. Business, sports, you tend to be optimistic. I have no idea what will happen next. First thing’s first, let’s get this done and then let’s get the Browns winning games.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Pacers sharpshooter Buddy Hield was sidelined for Monday’s game due to a non-COVID illness, marking just the fourth time since he entered the NBA in 2016 that he has missed a game, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Hield started Indiana’s first 73 games this season, but has come off the bench since then so that the team can get a look at different lineup combinations, with an eye toward next season, tweets Agness.
  • According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link), Eugene Omoruyi‘s new contract with the Pistons covers two seasons — it’s guaranteed for the rest of 2022/23, with a team option for ’23/24. In order to give Omoruyi more than the prorated minimum for the rest of this season, Detroit used a portion of its room exception to complete the signing, Hoops Rumors has learned. Instead of the $169,445 he would’ve gotten on a minimum-salary deal, the 26-year-old received $269,445 for ’22/23.
  • With the Trail Blazers set to miss the postseason again, the Bulls won’t get the lottery-protected first-round pick owed to them by Portland this season, and Chicago’s own top-four protected first-rounder appears ticketed for Orlando. However, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago wonders if the Bulls could end up with a first-rounder in 2023 by negotiating a trade with the Blazers, who are on track to receive the Knicks’ first-round pick. As Johnson observes, Portland may want to reacquire its own first-rounder, which remains lottery-protected through 2028, in order to regain flexibility for future trades.

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.

Bucks Notes: Horst, Ownership, Zanik, Ferry

The Bucks’ general manager search, conducted after John Hammond‘s departure for Orlando, appeared to take some unexpected twists and turns throughout the process — the club reportedly narrowed its options to three candidates, then opted to promote Jon Horst, who hadn’t been one of those three finalists.

In an interesting piece for ESPN.com, Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe detail the machinations behind Horst’s promotion, which caught even Horst himself off guard. Sources tell Windhorst and Lowe that the GM job was already earmarked for him when he was called to New York to meet with team ownership, even before he knew he was viewed as a candidate. The Bucks then began planning Horst’s introductory news conference before he signed his deal.

Here are more of the highlights from ESPN’s report on the Bucks’ unique search:

  • Bucks assistant GM Justin Zanik, who has since left the organization, was considered Hammond’s successor when he joined the franchise and had built a good relationship with head coach Jason Kidd. Although his contract didn’t explicitly state he’d replace Hammond, his annual salary reflected an anticipated increase in his decision-making power, per ESPN. However, only two of Milwaukee’s three co-owners were on board with a promotion for Zanik — Wes Edens was the holdout, and wanted to conduct a full-fledged search, according to Windhorst and Lowe.
  • After going through their search process, Edens still wasn’t sold on Zanik. He was outnumbered 2-1 by co-owners Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan, but Edens is technically the Bucks’ designated governor, which gives him unilateral power on all basketball-related decisions if he chooses to wield it, per ESPN.
  • The three co-owners had previously agreed to settle all decisions with a vote, but this situation revealed that Edens ultimately could have the final say, even if he was outnumbered. In two years, that will change, however — the Bucks’ ownership agreement calls for the governorship role to alternate between Edens and Lasry every five years, per ESPN.
  • With the search for a new GM having stalled, commissioner Adam Silver suggested the Bucks ought to consider Danny Ferry for the opening, according to ESPN. Milwaukee reached out to Ferry, but the two sides never had a formal meeting, with the Bucks’ co-owners opting instead to reach a compromise — they all liked and respected Horst, and brokered an agreement to promote him for the role.
  • Horst will be inexpensive compared to other general managers around the NBA. According to Windhorst and Lowe, his three-year deal starts at just $500K.
  • The Bucks continue to seek a veteran executive to complement Horst in the front office, though the three co-owners will likely all have to agree to move forward with a hire.

Coaching Rumors: Scott, Thibodeau, Kidd, Brooks

A strong belief exists within the Lakers organization that the team will keep Byron Scott, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, nonetheless revealing that next season is a team option on Scott’s contract. Still, too much discord exists within Lakers ownership for a consensus to form on a coaching change, sources tell Wojnarowski. Primary owner Jeanie Buss is advocating for Scott behind the scenes, and Scott has a “major chance” to remain in his job, one source told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

See more coaching rumors around the NBA with the regular season having come to a close:

  • Carmelo Anthony would prefer the Knicks hire Tom Thibodeau as coach, a source close to Anthony insisted to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Team president Phil Jackson doesn’t seem to have any interest in Thibodeau, as Isola points out, and strong indications exist that Thibodeau is looking for player personnel power as he seeks a coaching job, sources tell Chris Mannix of The Vertical (Twitter link).
  • Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry publicly backed coach Jason Kidd on Wednesday in the wake of rumors that Kidd is on shaky ground with the team, as Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays. Lasry said it’s reasonable to assume the team will give Kidd an extension on the three-year, $15MM contract that expires after next season, Gardner notes. Lasry has long been close to Kidd, and it’s the other owners to whom Kidd hasn’t endeared himself, as Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times wrote this week, but Gardner indicates that fellow primary owners Wesley Edens and Jamie Dinan made it clear Wednesday that they also want Kidd to stay. “At the end of the day, Jason is our coach,” Lasry said. “I know there’s been a bunch of articles. We think he’s done a great job. He’s our guy. Everybody who keeps talking about it, it’s a non-issue. I never understand why in this league you have these issues.”
  • Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff and Nets interim coach Tony Brown are unlikely to have their interim tags removed, barring unforeseen events, according to Berger. Rockets candidate Scott Brooks is wary of the uncertainty about whether Dwight Howard will opt out, Berger writes, which suggests that it’s not an open-and-shut case that Howard will opt out as he’s long been expected to do.

Central Notes: Pistons, Love, Bucks, Stephenson

Greg Monroe and agent David Falk have made it clear that they don’t want any trade this season, though the Pistons have asked about Monroe’s willingness to approve a trade, writes Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News. Monroe has the right to block any deal because he signed his qualifying offer in the offseason, and he’d lose his Bird rights if he were to be traded. There have been conflicting reports about whether the Pistons are shopping Brandon Jennings, but Goodwill writes that he is indeed on the block. The team’s brass is setting a high price for its assets, but other front offices have yet to meet those demands, according to Goodwill, who wrote his piece before today’s Josh Smith bombshell. We’ve been tracking the latest on Smith all day, and as we continue to do so, here’s more news from the Central Division:

  • Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders insists that had it not been for the offer from the Cavaliers, he wouldn’t have traded Kevin Love this year, as Saunders told reporters, including Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter link). There were simply no other proposals he liked, despite seemingly fevered interest from half of the league’s teams.
  • Saunders also seemed to confirm that Love had forced his way off the Wolves, as Krawczynski relays in a full piece“Minnesota people are pretty loyal,” Saunders said. “When you turn on Minnesota they don’t forgive you.” Still, Saunders added that he has no hard feelings, Krawczynski tweets.
  • Bucks owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry saw the Milwaukee franchise as a “blank slate,” Krawczynski writes in another piece, adding that the ownership duo has quickly revamped the business side of the team and is very pleased with how their roster is taking form. “It’s better than the Spurs. Those are the old guys,” Edens told Krawczynski. “Would you trade Giannis [Antetokounmpo] and Jabari [Parker] and all the rest of the young guys for them?”
  • While initial reports had Edens and Lasry pledging $100MM towards a new arena in Milwaukee, the actual number the owners have agreed to commit has since grown to $150MM, reports Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Walker reminds us that former Bucks owner Herb Kohl agreed to kick in $100MM himself and that there might be additional private capital coming. Whatever amount on top of that is required to build the arena will come from public financing, Walker says, adding that the team faces an NBA-mandated deadline of fall 2017 to have the new facility in place.
  • Pacers players aren’t embracing the idea of bringing Lance Stephenson back to the team, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com hears (Twitter link). Indiana’s front office was reportedly cool to the idea as the Pacers engaged in preliminary talks with the Hornets about trading for the shooting guard.

Alex Lee contributed to this post.

Bucks Notes: Ownership, Hammond, Drew

New Bucks owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry have met with candidates to buy minority shares in the team, and they hope to add five to 10 new investors, reports Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Former Bucks player Junior Bridgeman and Milwaukee businessman Ted Kellner are candidates, Walker hears, and Lasry acknowledged Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s desire to get in the mix, tweets Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. Here’s more on the Bucks and the rest of the Central Division:

  • Edens appears to have assumed the role of primary owner, as he’ll represent the Bucks on the Board of Governors, Gardner notes (Twitter link).
  • Edens and Lasry spoke of their support for GM John Hammond and coach Larry Drew, but the owners stopped short of guaranteeing their long-term futures with the club, Journal Sentinel scribe Charles F. Gardner reports. Edens said previously that Hammond will remain with the Bucks at least through the draft.
  • The Bucks will work out a handful of big man prospects tomorrow, including former Marquette standout Davante Gardner, per Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times (Twitter link).

Ryan Raroque contributed to this post. 

Wesley Edens, Marc Lasry Purchase Bucks

MAY 15TH, 6:12pm: The league has unanimously approved the sale of the Bucks to Edens and Lasry, per the team (Twitter link).

APRIL 16TH, 3:02pm: Edens says he’d like to see the arena built within a couple of years, and suggests that the $200MM puts the team halfway toward the price of the new building, as Woelfel tweets.

2:49pm: Edens and Lasry will put $100MM toward the construction of a new arena in addition to the purchase price of the team, Gardner tweets. Kohl will also give $100MM for the arena, the team announced (Twitter link).

2:43pm: Kohl announced in a press conference that he’s transferring full ownership of the club to Edens and Lasry, pending league approval, as Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes via Twitter.

11:34am: Longtime Bucks owner Herb Kohl will announce the sale of the team to Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry later today, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The sale of what’s presumably a majority stake in the team to the hedge fund billionaires will be subject to league approval, but Kohl made keeping the team in Milwaukee a condition of the deal, Stein adds (Twitter link). Grantland’s Bill Simmons first identified Edens and Lasry as having been close to purchasing the team last week. The sale price is $550MM, according to Stein.

Edens is a principal and co-chairman of the Board of Directors of Fortress Investment Group LLC, while Lasry is the CEO of Avenue Capital Group. Forbes.com pegs Lasry’s net worth at $1.7 billion. Other suitors made late bids to purchase the team, Simmons wrote, but it appears that Edens and Lasry have emerged with a deal.

Part of the cost of the team will be redirected into funding a new arena in Milwaukee, tweets Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. It seems likely that Edens and Lasry aren’t shelling out the full $550MM, but rather paying a percentage of that based on a valuation of the entire franchise at that price. Vivek Ranadive and his partners last year paid about $348MM to purchase 65% of the Kings, who were valued at a total of more than $534MM.

There have been several rumored to be in the mix for all or part of the Bucks in recent months, including Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, agent Arn Tellem, former Raptors and Suns GM Bryan Colangelo, former Wolves GM David Kahn, one-time Bucks player Junior Bridgeman, and Milwaukee health care executive Jon Hammes.

Kohl announced in December that he was seeking to sell minority shares in the club, but Woelfel reported about a month ago that Kohl was close to selling a majority stake. He’s campaigned for a new arena to replace the nearly 25-year-old Bradley Center, though it appears that finding public funding to built it will be difficult. Kohl’s apparent decision to use a portion of his take from the sale to foot the bill for the arena fits with Woelfel’s report from January that suggests the former U.S. Senator wants the new home for the Bucks to be an important part of his legacy in the area. Woelfel wrote then that Kohl was considering giving more than $100MM toward the building’s construction.

And-Ones: Draft, Bucks, Cavs, Pistons

Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors weighed in on the Eastern Conference playoffs as a guest on The Baseline podcast at Shaw Sports.

More from around the Association and college ranks:

  • Kentucky coach John Calipari has no idea if Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison will declare for this year’s NBA Draft, writes Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Calipari said, “They have ‘til the 27th to make a decision. I don’t even know what the NCAA date is because we don’t worry about it. It has nothing to do with us. The only date they have to be concerned about is the 27th, when they have to put their name in or they don’t put their name in.” Draft Express has Andrew ranked as the 39th best prospect and Aaron as the 53rd.
  • The NBA Draft Experts at ESPN.com examine the scouting report and draft prospects of Kentucky’s James Young, who has announced that he will enter this year’s draft. Young ranks 15th on Chad Ford of ESPN.com‘s Big Board.
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood also gets profiled by ESPN.com’s draft experts. Hood has declared he’s entering the draft this year, and Ford has him ranked 22nd. You can also check out our prospect profile on Hood.
  • Adam Silver doesn’t anticipate any issues affecting league approval of Herb Kohl’s sale of the Bucks to Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, as the commissioner told reporters today, including Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Silver informed fellow Journal Sentinel scribe Charles F. Gardner that he expects approval to occur within a month (Twitter link).
  • Despite the talk that Cavaliers guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters don’t get along, Luol Deng has said the two players “love” each other, writes Bob Finnan of The Morning Journal.
  • Part of the reason the Pistons had such a poor season was due to bad chemistry, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Ellis’ article speculates as to what caused this issue.
  • Larry Coon of the CBA FAQ Blog (via RealGM.com) is reporting that the 2014/15 salary cap is now projected to be $63.2MM and the tax level is projected to be $77MM. The numbers for 2015/16 are now projected to be $66.5MM and $81MM, respectively. This season’s figures are $58.679MM for the salary cap and $71.748MM for the luxury tax level, so the cap projection for next season is a 7.7% increase over this year’s.

Bucks Notes: Kohl, Edens, Lasry

News broke today that the Bucks’ ownership had officially found a group to purchase the organization. Pending league approval, the ownership of Milwaukee will change hands for the first time since 1985, when Herb Kohl purchased the team from Jim Fitzgerald. Let’s round up the latest news and notes on the Bucks in wake of the sale:

  • New owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry were one of nine groups bidding for the team, as Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co., the firm overseeing the transfer, told Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times (Twitter link).
  • Kohl acknowledged that while there were other good offers on the table, Edens and Lasry were the best fit for the team, reports Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links).
  • A change in ownership will impact the Bucks’ quest for a new arena, and Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looks at what steps ownership will need to take in order to secure a new home court.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.