A much-anticipated new era of Milwaukee Bucks basketball may finally be upon us.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Wednesday morning that Herb Kohl's sale of the Bucks to Marc Lasry and Wes Edens is expected to receive official league approval on Thursday, four weeks after the sale was first announced on April 16. That's consistent with what we've been hearing over the past week and within the 30-day approval window reported when the deal was announced, though Windhorst reports that it might have come even faster if not for the ongoing Donald Sterling saga in Los Angeles. Windhorst writes:
In the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal, there was a push within the league to have an extra thorough vetting of the new owners, sources said. That process, however, is complete and the league's Board of Governors will approve the transaction that was initially signed last month.
While league approval of the deal was considered little more than a formality, everything that comes next remains unclear. Among the many questions that will need to be addressed once Lasry and Edens take over:
Who stays and who goes? Bucks GM John Hammond and company are now in Chicago attending the NBA's draft combine, but it's unclear if Hammond, other key front office personnel and Larry Drew's coaching staff will be retained--be it short-term or long-term. Making matters more complicated: Lasry and Edens haven't officially been allowed to communicate with team employees while the vetting process has been ongoing, leaving everyone in the dark as to what will happen when the sale becomes official.
My guess? After a league-worst 15-67 season, it would seem surprising if a change in ownership doesn't bring at least some changes over the summer, though that's not to say everything happens this week. For instance, hiring anyone currently employed by another NBA team would require permission just to interview, and none of that has even been possible while the sale has been in limbo. It's not to say that Lasry and Edens couldn't have spent the past month lining up someone currently outside the league (note: apparently not Stan Van Gundy), but at this point there's been no indication one way or the other. One thing I would anticipate: if the front office undergoes a major shakeup, you would expect new leadership to find their own coach as well.
Will new investors be announced now or later? Lasry and Edens have reportedly been working on adding minority investors with local ties since the sale announcement in April, including a trip to Milwaukee on May 2. At this point there's been no suggestion that this week's league approval would involve anyone other than Lasry and Edens, though that's not to say there hasn't been significant progress and that local investors couldn't be announced at a later date.
What next on the arena front? In mid-April, Lasry and Edens promised that they hoped to move quickly in hashing out a fully-formed plan for a new arena project over the next 12 months, and their most recent visit reportedly included briefings with local business leaders on that all-important topic.
Among the topics that the duo will have to consider: making sense of the Wisconsin Center District's proposal for a Millennium Park-style pedestrian corridor between the WCD and a potential new arena a few blocks north in the now-vacant Park East Corridor. New details and renderings of the potential project leaked to the Milwaukee Business Journal on Monday, though it's debatable whether the WCD proposal--which conveniently includes a $200 million expansion of the existing Wisconsin Center convention space--is the best path forward for a new arena. Bundling a new arena with a broader development concept seems like the best path to making something both palatable to the public and impactful for the city, but the WCD idea isn't the only way to do it.
Who reps the Bucks at next week's lottery? It's by far the least important question, but it's still one we want to know about: who gets to sit behind the Bucks' podium next Tuesday during the unveiling of the lottery results? Approval of the sale clears the way for Lasry and Edens to represent the Bucks in New York next week, though that doesn't mean one of them will be on camera when the Bucks' logo pops up somewhere between picks one and four. It could be one of the new bosses, it could be a player (is there anyone but Giannis?) or it could be someone from the front office (Hammond has repped the Bucks previously, but...well, who knows?).