Ask Bucks fans what they think of the team's current ownership, and most of them would say that they would prefer that current owner and former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl--who turns 79 in February--give up his position after being the principal owner since 1985. Many feel Kohl has run his course and is just too encumbered by too outdated of a basketball philosophy to move the franchise forward (read: you know, tank stuff).
If Kohl is to give up his stake in the team, a rather significant obstacle must first be met. For starters, an individual or ownership group must step forward as an interested suitor. Then, in order for Kohl to feel comfortable selling the team to them, this person or group must have a strong desire to keep the team in Milwaukee. Seems easy enough, right? Well, no. The team is already facing a 2017 deadline for a new arena from Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, and it's difficult to see any new ownership group committing to Milwaukee without an arena deal in the pipeline. And, like I said, nobody has really stepped up with an interest in taking over. That is, until today, when current Bucks small forward Caron Butler expressed a desire to become an investor in his hometown team when his career is over.
Butler, a native of Racine, has been looking for ways to expand his business enterprises (he owns several Burger King franchises) as his career winds down. A transition into managing or owning a basketball franchise is clearly way more complex than fast food, but Butler has been preparing himself for quite some time, even going as far as to taking part in a NBA leadership program this past summer that included NBA GMs and owners.
Though having a former player having an interest is great, there hasn't been much success in a player as the principal owner of a franchise. The only former player who is the current principal owner of a franchise is Michael Jordan with the Charlotte Bobcats, and that...well, hasn't been..good. Also consider that, no matter how much money a player may earn in his career, a sole purchase of a franchise is likely still way out of their price range. Butler's business manager Raymond Brothers told The Milwaukee Business Journal that buying an NBA team would cost about $500 million (the Bucks value was most recently calculated at $312 million). Butler, in his 12 years in the league, has amassed "only" $75 million in total salary (pre-tax), with $8 million more coming his way by the time his deal is up this summer. Therefore the plan would have to involve a broader ownership group, with Butler unlikely to fork over more than a small percentage of whatever the final sale price would be. That said, his value as a spokesperson and symbol for the long-term future of the Bucks would be undeniable.
Both Kohl's office and the Bucks declined to comment on the matter, though the Bucks did offer this statement in their declination.
"Caron Butler is a valued member of the Bucks and our community for his contributions both on an off the court. That said, it would be inappropriate for us to comment on a personal decision he may or may not make after his playing days are over."
Butler can not take any action as an investor or part of a group until his playing days are over, but Kohl may really have to consider this as one of his better options when it comes time to sell, even if it is the only one stepping up to the plate at the moment. He'll need to round up some more big bank accounts before this feels real, but you've gotta start somewhere.
For Butler, growing up a fan of the team he will likely end his playing career with and potentially begin his executive career with makes the opportunity all the more perfect, considering this is where it all began.
"Of course [I'm interested]. It's home. I love it."