Clipper owner Donald Sterling's punishment for racist remarks was swift and severe--and it didn't go unnoticed in Milwaukee.
Following Adam Silver's Tuesday announcement that Sterling would be banned from involvement with the Clippers for life and fined the maximum $2.5 million allowed under NBA bylaws, Bucks owners new and old issued short and to-the-point statements supporting the league's punishment. Silver intends to call a vote of the NBA's Board of Governors to force Sterling to the sell the team he's owned for the past 33 years, and he currently expects no problems in getting the minimum 75% support needed from the league's other 29 owners to force a sale.
While Sterling is unlikely to go down without a protracted legal fight, don't expect Silver to have any trouble gathering the votes he needs to kick Sterling to the curb. Outgoing Bucks owner Herb Kohl quickly stated his support of the league's move, joining a chorus of public support.
"We denounce the offensive, racist comments made by Mr. Sterling, and we stand with the actions Commissioner Silver has taken against him."
On Wednesday, prospective owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens followed suit, issuing their own release that was also posted at Bucks.com:
"Commissioner Silver has taken strong and swift action to address Mr. Sterling’s offensive comments, which run counter to the principles of equality and diversity that define the NBA today. There is no place for racism and hatred in sports – or in our society."
Charles Gardner reports that current (for now) head coach and one-time L.A. Clipper Larry Drew similarly echoed the world's consensus:
"I can't see any other way to rectify the situation," Drew said. "Something harsh had to be done.
"I think Mr. Silver felt like everybody who had heard the tapes. I think a lot of people feel a sense of relief that Mr. Silver did take that stance. Now we can put it behind us and move forward."
Hopefully this is the last time we ever mention Sterling in this space, but we encourage you to check out SB Nation's story stream for ongoing coverage.
Ownership transition still on track
Thankfully, the fiasco is not expected to impact the timing of the Bucks' sale approval, which will hopefully still be completed by mid-May. However, even that timing will leave the Bucks in a bit of a pinch. The Chicago pre-draft combine will take place from May 14-18, followed by the draft lottery on Tuesday, May 20, leaving five weeks for individual workouts, interviews and due diligence ahead of the June 26 draft.
Ideally any organizational transition would happen before Chicago, but realistically that may be difficult--at least in terms of wholesale changes. Which raises an obvious question that we've been debating all week: does it matter? Considering that a) the combine is mostly about interviews at this point and b) the Bucks will be able to schedule private interviews and workouts after the lottery as well, you can certainly argue that it wouldn't be the end of the world if the Bucks opted to shake things up after Chicago or even later in the month.
That said, the Bucks have every incentive to get as many touch points as possible with the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Dante Exum, and Chicago represents the first opportunity to do that. Don't expect any of the top prospects to do more than individual workouts leading up to the draft--agents are too risk averse for that--though you could also imagine a worst case scenario where the Bucks slip to #3 or #4 and then have issues getting one or more of the guys they like to visit Milwaukee at all.
Anyone who follows the draft knows that it's not uncommon for agents to prevent players from working out for teams outside of their preferred draft range, even if it's often just a matter of optics and posturing. After all, if Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker work out for the #4 team, does that mean they're worried about slipping? OH MY GOD THEY'RE NOT GOOD ANYMORE! It might seem silly, but it happens all the time. And it's one more reason why it's good to have the first overall pick--suddenly everyone wants to talk to you.
The combine would likely also be rather helpful in providing an opportunity to look at players that the Bucks would consider later in the draft, where their three second round picks give them ample opportunity to pick up one or more additional prospects. So bottom line: yes, you'd like the guys you send to Chicago to be the same guys who will be making the pick six weeks later. But it wouldn't be unheard of to change things up with the draft drawing close: Kings owner Vivek Ranadive hired GM Pete D'Alessandro less than two weeks before last year's draft, while the Sixers' Sam Hinkie (May 10) and Suns' Ryan McDonough (May 7) were both hired in the first two weeks of May.
As for the lottery, it's mostly just a made-for-TV dog-and-pony show, but you would assume that Lasry and Edens would prefer to be there in person as the official new owners of the Bucks.Whether either would sit in the Bucks' hotseat during the TV countdown is less clear, but wouldn't the first overall pick be a nice housewarming gift for the league's newest owners?