According to Grantland’s Bill Simmons, a sale of the Milwaukee Bucks — to hedge fund billionaires Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens — was pretty much a done deal as of Wednesday, until current owner Herb Kohl realized he might be able to sell off the team for even more than the rumored $550 million(!) price tag. All along, it was assumed that the 79-year-old Kohl, who has no heirs, wouldn’t sell to anyone who wouldn’t keep the team in Milwaukee. That appears to still be the case:
…the Seattle guys (Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen) aren’t getting the team — even though they were willing to go higher than anyone else, they dropped out because Herb Kohl (the longtime Bucks owner and a fearless champion of mediocre basketball) wouldn’t sell them the franchise unless they agreed to keep it in Milwaukee. The guys who thought they had it as recently as two days ago? Hedge-fund billionaires Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, who slid under the radar this entire time and thought they landed the Bucks with an offer in the $550 million range (slightly more than Vivek Ranadivé paid for the equally unappealing Kings).
As recently as Wednesday, Lasry and Edens were expecting the NBA to vote on their bid at next week’s Board of Governors meeting. So … what happened? Apparently there’s been a late flurry of offers from at least two other parties — not the Seattle guys — and now, incredibly, the price might be climbing and/or Kohl might be wavering to see if he should play this out longer.
Imagine that. An owner not being a scumbag and selling out a fan base to make a buck. Everyone knows that Steve Ballmer can outbid anyone not named Ellison (in terms of uber-rich people who have shown interest in owning an NBA team), but clearly that’s not where Kohl’s interest lies. I’ve said all along it takes a special kind of asshole, with the right amount of not giving a shit, to facilitate what happened to the Seattle Supersonics in 2006. The Maloofs tried to copy the blueprint last year, but failed because they negotiated their own deal, and the NBA hates it when owners do things behind the league’s back.
The league also, for some reason, claims relocation is not in the league’s best interest, even though Stern facilitated three relocations from 2001 to 2008, and the league’s history is filled with such moves. He had a change of heart — his cold, icy heart — after the Sonics’ fiasco, because, well, there is no reason. Again, the NBA does what the NBA wants, standing behind the notion of “best interest”. Nobody knows what that is except Stern (formerly) and Adam Silver (now), and enough owners who will do thy bidding.
What we do know is that the Bucks are staying in Milwaukee, with the stipulation that the city get an arena deal in place by 2017 (Silver is on record as saying this is a requirement for the team to stay). Of course, because the rest of America is not comprised of uptight, anti-sports NIMBYs like your average Seattle resident, I have zero doubt it’ll get that arena deal. Alas, this leaves Seattle on the outside looking in on the NBA for the next five years-to-forever.
But, hey, how ’bout them Thunder? (begins projectile vomiting)