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Report: Marc Lasry Sells Stake in Milwaukee Bucks to Jimmy and Dee Haslam

There it is

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NBA: White House Visit-Milwaukee Bucks NBA Champions Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

After rumors for several weeks, the reports are finally in from Tim Bontemps over at ESPN that Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry is selling his stake in the team to Jimmy Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Browns.

It’s worth noting this is the second highest valuation ever for an NBA sale (behind the Suns’ recent sale of $4 billion), but that Phoenix deal was for a whole team. (Editor’s note: I’m dumb with numbers and didn’t realize Lasry’s sold his 25% stake for $875M, the $3.5 valuation was what that number was based on...)

This is purely for Lasry’s portion of the Milwaukee Bucks, as Haslam will presumably still be co-owning the team with Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan. If you’re wondering who Haslam is, I direct you back to Mitchell’s article from when these reports first came out:

So, who is Jimmy Haslam, and why should we care? A perfunctory Google search tells us that Haslam, 68, is the chairman of the board of the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain. More relevantly, he and his spouse own both the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League and the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. Presumably, this purchase would put his count of “professional sports franchises owned” at 3, which is precisely 3 more than you or me.

Why now? Curiously, it turns out that Haslam’s non-sports interests are being acquired by Warren Buffet’s giant corporate conglomerate, meaning Haslam has money to spend. While you might not think that a chain of truck stops comes with much drama, there was a federal investigation in 2013 regarding rebate fraud, which was settled out of court. Again, whatever happened during Haslam’s time overseeing his sports franchises feels more relevant, and the obvious story that raises eyebrows in relation to the Cleveland Browns (besides the fact that they’ve been hapless for...basically ever?) is that the team willingly signed Deshaun Watson despite the significant legal issues he faces concerning sexual misconduct. Now, it’s not the Browns’ fault that Watson is credibly accused of several crimes, but nobody forced them to trade for him and offer him a contract on par with the NBA supermax either. Presumably, Jimmy Haslam would have had to approve that deal, and all of Watson’s baggage was public knowledge and therefore would have been considered, regardless of what that would do for the team on the field.

Personally, I found the Deshaun Watson situation to be quite disturbing, not to mention the fact it’s effectively sent ripples throughout the NFL world that had to leave other owners irate that Cleveland “re-set” the market with that deal for a player with extremely questionable off-field decisions.

As for how it affects the Bucks? Well, from my vantage point, the best thing Haslam can offer is wads of cash and staying out of the way. If he’s able to help this team keep paying the luxury tax to keep an expensive core around during Giannis’s title-contending years, that’s all we really need. Outside of the tax bill, the most intriguing question from an ownership standpoint is whether the governorship situation will continue. As you might recall, Lasry and Edens had a deal where the governorship would change hands every five year, effectively giving one of them final say over any potential decisions.

During his time in Milwaukee, Marc Lasry made a large chunk of money, saw his son run for the state senate seat, and now is apparently moving on to focus primarily on pickleball.

Lasry was an early investor in Major League Pickleball — which features a roster of owners including LeBron James and Kevin Durant, among others — and is interested in potentially buying into teams, leagues, media rights and real estate, sources said

The rich...they’re just like us!

For more commentary from our site on this move, I recommend listening to episode 147 of The Brew Hoop podcast (timestamp 53:17), when Riley, Mitchell and Kyle discuss the potential of Haslam as an owner.