Milwaukee Bucks Sold For $550 Million

Long time owner and former state governor Herb Kohl has sold the Milwaukee Bucks to investment partners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry. The deal went for $550 million with Kohl offering a donation of $100 million to be used toward a new arena.

The sale price of $550 million may be overpriced for some, and the franchise was valued at only $406 million, according to Forbes, but there are very convincing reasons as to why the partners of Edens and Lasry are willing to pay above market value for a smaller market team. For one, they have the money. Being worth over $1 billion allows you to pay a little bit extra, which is the case for Edens. And two, sports franchises have only gone up in value. The price of the Bucks will most likely go whether they win or lose. There is also a prestige of owning a sports team. I wouldn’t know, but I’d be much more interested in dealing with a firm if one of the investors owned a team.

The sell to the two partners wasn’t much of a shock because of the simple fact that the two showed they wlere committed to staying loyal to the city of Milwaukee.

Since buying the team in 1985, Kohl has had one objective: keep the Bucks in Milwaukee. He has pressed the issue for a new arena to help generate more fans and revenue for multiple years, but the state legislature has continually pushed away any deal offered.

The current arena, BMO Harris Bradley Center, is the third-oldest in the NBA. With the Warriors planning to move to San Francisco, pending league approval, and Madison Square Garden having recently undergone a $1 billion renovation, the Harris Bradley Center is being left in the 80s, along with the glory years of the franchise.

The Bucks have not won a playoff series since the 2000-2001 season, where they advanced to the Conference Finals. The 2000-2001 season also marks the last time the team won their division, finishing with a 52-30 record. Before that season, the team did not factor much into the contender conversation since Don Nelson coached and Tiny Archibald and Sidney Moncrief sported a Bucks jersey.

This season, the Bucks finished dead last in their division while owning the worst record in the league. Although they are guaranteed a top-4 pick, the front office is praying for at least the second pick. With the depth of this year’s draft, and the talent level of Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins  coming out, the Bucks could set up their roster for success for the subsequent future.

The Milwaukee roster already sports a huge reserve of potential. Starting with a player who has all the tools to be a Kevin Durant clone, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a freak of nature that is continuing to grow into his 19 year old body. Bradon Knight is settling into his leadership role since being traded to the team a few years ago. In the frontcourt, Larry Sanders is a defensive force and solid rebounder, and Ersan Ilyasova is a mismatch for opposing defenses, who is still learning the nuances of the NBA.

With the hope that the flashes Antetokounmpo showed throughout the season were signs of what is to become night-to-night performances, the Bucks would be inclined to draft a project like Wiggins in order to combine a dynamic duo on the wings. From a defensive perspective, the Bucks could play BIG and put Sanders (7’0) in the middle with Jon Henson (6’11”) at the four and Wiggins (6’8″) and Giannis (6’10”) out on the wings. All of which have a longer wingspan than their listed height. Length and athleticism are two things that can’t be taught by coaches.

Joel Embiid fits into this picture as well, if he would be willing to come off the bench for the time-being. With Sanders already establishing himself as the starter, Embiid would shrink the court playing next to him down low. Although the offensive game of Embiid is superior to that of Sanders, he cannot spread the floor like Ilyasova, who can efficiently shoot from the three point line.

Hopefully with the emergence of former players that are willing to contribute to the cost of a new arena, the Bucks can stay in Milwaukee and become a contender like they were in the 80s. The draft is a place where teams can blossom into powerhouses or bust and throw their future down the drain (I’m looking at you Detroit). A little luck and a solid pick could catapault the Bucks into the top of the Eastern Conference.

Fun Fact: The last first pick the Bucks won in the lottery was in 2005 when they drafted Andrew Bogut. They have had three other top picks with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969), Kurt Benson (1977), and Glenn Robinson(1994).

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Jackson Clears House, Fires Woodson And Coaching Staff

After only a few weeks of being in charge in New York, Phil Jackson is starting his tenure as President of Basketball Operations with a bold move. In a decision that was inevitable after a sub-par season, Jackson has fired Mike Woodson and his entire coaching staff.

In what is being called a housecleaning, Jackson is starting fresh with the New York Knicks. Since the arrival of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have not played up to expectations, leaving fans and players unsatisfied. This season, the Knicks failed to make the playoffs going 37-45 in the regular season. Even playing in the weak Eastern Conference, a sub-.500 record at home will make it difficult for any team to succeed. Throw in a disgruntled superstar and a cache of under-performing role players, and you’ll have the Knicks in a nutshell.

The interesting part of the housecleaning is the reports of Jackson receiving opinions that favored holding onto some of the assistants that have been a part of the front office for several years. According to sources, James Dolan, General Manager of the Knicks, wasn’t seeing eye-to-eye with Jackson. This report is interesting because Dolan claimed to agree “willingly and gratefully” ceding control to Jackson.

If these reports are true, which they very well be taken out of context, then the Knicks could be in trouble in the near future. With Carmelo stating that he want the “Dwight treatment” in free agency, the Knicks better organize their front office if they want Anthony playing in a Knicks uniform next year.

Despite the obvious mess that New York has on its hands right now, I do not see the front office being the reason Anthony leaves New York. James Dolan’s concern with keeping certain members of the coaching staff dealt more with loyalty than anything else. One member, Allan Houston, played for the Knicks during his career, and I believe Dolan was trying to keep a good relationship with a former player.

Where the Knicks are going to have problems is with personnel. Right now, without Carmelo, the Knicks feature J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert on the wings, Raymond Felton at the point, Tyson Chandler n the middle, and Amar’e Stoudemire at the 4. Off the bench, Tim Hardaway Jr., Pablo Prigioni, Kenyon Martin, Andrea Bargnani, Shannon Brown, and Earl Clark. There is a powerhouse lineup in there somewhere. It may not be obvious, and some players on the roster aren’t a  part of it, but there is one in there. Trust me.

First move that the front office needs to do is find a suitable point guard, preferably one that can make a three-pointer consistently. Since the start of the search for a new coach, Jackson has been vocal about wanting the team to run the triangle offense, the offense he ran with the 6-time championship Bulls and 5-time championship Lakers. Something that made the offense so efficient was the three-point shooting ability of his point guards. Derek Fisher and John Paxson were both key cogs to the offense because they could hit the corner three efficiently.

The next thing is to hire a coach that can knows the triangle offense and can run it effectively. A name that has popped up in many reports is of ESPN analyst Steve Kerr. Despite not having any experience as a coach, he does have experience as a GM for the Phoenix Suns. He also has experience as a player and a successful one at that. During his 15 year career, he won 5 championships, 3 with the Bulls, including being apart of the 72-10 season in 1996, and 2 with the Spurs. He holds the record for three point percentage as well,shooting over 45% from three point distance.

With Steve Kerr, the Knicks would have the total package. A experienced ex-player that won during his career and is knowledgable about the game and the offense that Phil Jackson wants to run. He would have the respect of the players from day one and would have connections in the league that would help him set deals for signings and transactions.

After hiring a new coach, the Knicks need to handle their situation in the frontcourt. With Stoudemire and Martin past their primes, youth is something of a priority. Although the recent signing of Lamar Odom may help, the Knicks need to invest in some potential talent.

With the upcoming draft being deep in terms of talent and bigs, finding a way into the first round would give them a real chance at drafting a power forward to develop over the next few years. Skillwise, Adreian Payne is someone they should keep their eye on in the combine. Being 6’11” and having an outside shot, he would have the same skill set as Bargnani with an upgrade in athleticism. Also, entering the draft as a senior gives him an andvantage in the mental aspect of the game and lowers his draft stock, meaning the Knicks don’t have to break the bank to get a pick high enough to grab him in the first round. A deal involving Bargnani and Smith or Bargnani and Shumpert would open up much needed salary space.

Another route the Knicks could go to add frontcourt depth is through trade. A name that is hot on the wire is that of Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons. He is a young player that is well-rounded on both ends of the court and a team player. Trading for a player like Monroe would give New York instant contribution and a piece for the future. If they choose tot go this path, they can focus on finding a point guard in the draft.

The final step to revamping the Knick’s roster would be to drop dead weight. Opening up salary space is a must heading into the summer. Carmelo, along with the Big 3 in Miami, and several other superstar talents,will be available in free agency. With that, the Knicks could lure Anthony into staying if another all-star joined him in the Big Apple. A two-guard, or a combo guard would be the ideal pickup, allowing Carmelo to play the 4 next to Chandler and Shumpert/Smith to play the three. Second-year man Tim Hardaway would bring in scoring off the bench as the sixth man and Payne backing up the frontcourt.

All in all, the stars could align and allow the Knicks to contend for the title next year. Jackson and Dolan would have to work some magic and grab the right players for the system. If you agree with my scenario, what players should the Knicks try to get through trade or the draft? If you don’t, what do you think they have to do to contend next year? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Western Conference Playoff Preview

When comparing strength top-to-bottom, the West is far more balanced than the top-heavy East. Teams that locked the last four spots in the East handily would have been fighting for the last spot in the West. The match-ups have powerhouses going head-to-head in a first round that is going to be exciting to say the least.

San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Dallas Mavericks (8)

In an inter-state match-up, two of the most resilient teams but consistent teams face off. The Spurs have been written off every year since Tim Duncan turned thirty, but find themselves with homecourt throughout the playoffs yet again. The strong play of the Spur’s Big Three and the minute management by the Hall of Fame-headed head coach Gregg Popovich shows why the Spurs should not be underrated. On the other side of the court, the Mavericks are not a team to be overlooked either. Dirk Nowizki has carried the team this season, in which he passed Oscar Robinson for 10th on the all-time scoring list. The guard play is the factor to watch in this game. The production from the frontcourt will be there in Duncan and Nowitzki for the Spurs and Mavericks, respectively. Tony Parker has been known to pick his play up in the playoffs and Manu Ginobili should be looking to redeem himself after dropping the ball last season in the Finals.

Prediction: Spurs 4-2

Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7)

The Thunder stood at the top of the totem pole for most of the season despite the absence of All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook. They were overtaken for the top seed of the playoffs after a late surge by the Spurs, but they could have been blessed with an easier path to the Finals even with the number 2 seed. Led by the potential-MVP Kevin Durant, the Thunder will go as far as he takes them. Not to take away from Westbrook, who is important in terms of energy and defense, but the Thunder are much stronger when the offense plays through Durant instead of Westbrook. And in their match-up against the Grizzlies, offense will be at a premium. The Grizzlies are a team that is efficient on offense and focuses primarily on defense, led by Marc Gasol the defending Defensive Player of the Year. If the Grizzlies and Tony Allen can contain Durant and Mike Conley can slow down Westbrook, then this will be a close series. Of course, that is easier said than done. The Thunder took three of four in the season series between the two, and I’d be surprised if they can’t win four of seven.

Prediction: Thunder 4-1

Los Angeles Clippers (3) vs. Golden State Warriors (6)

Lob City takes on Splash City in what will be the most exciting series of the first round, in my opinion. If there’s any team I hate but love to watch, it’s the Clippers, and if there are two teams that hate each other, it’s the Clippers and the Warriors. The Clippers are led by Chris Paul, who takes advantage of every head-to-head match-up, and Blake Griffin, who has shown the critics this year why he is and will be a force-to-be-reckoned-with in the league. The defense of the Clippers will be stretched to the limits by the three-point shooting of the Warriors, but the Warriors are going to be tested on the inside with the absence of Andrew Bogut. David Lee will have to step up at the five and give Griffin a tough time in the paint. The x-factor will be Klay Thompson. He has to show he has a next level. Super Splash Bro number 1 will be there in Stephon Curry, but his partner in crime has to be able to play under pressure.

Prediction: Clippers 4-3

Houston Rockets (4) vs. Portland Trailblazers (5)

The Blazers may be the more inexperienced team between the two, but Damian Lillard and LeMarcus Aldridge are a young dynamic duo that continues to grow together. Homecourt will play a big-part in this match-up. The Rockets are one of the most efficient teams at home, led by James Harden and Dwight Howard. Since being sent to Houston, Harden has shown that he is much more than a sixth man, and Dwight Howard has firmly established himself as the best center and one of the biggest defensive presences in the league. The x-factor in the match-up will be the contribution of the role players. Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum for the Trailblazers and Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Terrence Jones for the Rockets will be the biggest component to a series win for either club.

Prediction: Rockets 4-3

Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

With the end of the regular season, and the start of the post-season among us, it’s time to look at the match-ups in each division. Starting with the East, I will look at who I think will win the series. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, so if you want to let me know who you’ve got winning, let me know in the comments.

Indiana Pacers (1) vs. Atlanta Hawks (8)

The Pacers accomplished their goal and have successfully gained home court throughout the conference playoffs. After crawling into the post-season, the Pacers have people doubting their dominance that they showed in the first half of the season; however, the Hawks might not be the team they wanted to play in the first round.  The two teams split the season series 2-2 and the Hawks are a sneaky-good team. They have all of the elements of a contender minus the superstar, but that doesn’t mean that strong rebounding, defense and three-point shooting can’t help them shock a team looking for vengeance. If the Pacers can focus on the opponent at hand, then there is no doubt they win handily. In the end, the Pacers have more frontcourt depth and stronger defense at the wings, putting them into the second round.

Prediction: Pacers 4-2

 

Miami Heat (2) vs. Charlotte Bobcats (7)

Looking to three-peat, the Heat have a tough road ahead of them. After the Bobcats, they could potentially play the Brooklyn Nets, a team that gives them fits to say the least. The team they are playing now, however, was handled much more easily. The Heat swept the season series 4-0 and gave the Bobcats a glimpse of the calm before the storm. If the Bobcats couldn’t squeeze out a win in the regular season (losing by one and forcing OT in another) that saw key players like Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen getting rest for the playoffs, then they don’t have much hope to beat a team that has something to prove. Throw in that the Heat play small ball, something that the Bobcats take advantage, the Heat are in no position to lose. A post-season appearance is victory enough for the Bobcats, anything else is gravy. Their main priority is stopping LeBron this time around.

Prediction: Heat 4-0

 

Toronto Raptors (3) vs. Brooklyn Nets (6)

The Raptors have surprised the league this year and stole their division against the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Led by the strong play of Kyle Lowry and the All-Star performance of DeMar Derozan, the Raptors are a team that has exceeded their preseason expectations. Their match-up against the Nets could turn out to be the most exciting because the two play in the same division and split the season series 2-2. For the Raptors, they need to match the Nets in terms of effort. The Nets have flopped away a season where anything less than a ring was disappointing. I’d bet money that they are looking to hush the nay-sayers out there. For the Nets, they have to take advantage of the well of experience that they have on their roster. That advantage may not have helped during the season, but the post-season is where experience plays a huge factor. Something to watch during the series is where Paul Pierce plays on the court. As of late, he has been playing the 4 to create a mismatch on offense and spread the floor. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in terms of defensive rebounding.

Prediction: Toronto 4-3

 

Chicago Bulls (4) vs. Washington Wizards (5)

The Bulls have had a roller coaster of a season, losing Derrick Rose, yet being a defensive-minded team has allowed them to save the season and given them a chance to advance into the next round. The Wizards are giving the league a glimpse of what they could become: a powerhouse team in the East led by John Wall. Before the season started, John Wall went on the record saying that he is the “best point guard in the league.” Although their was a collective scoff from the general direction of the West, a little confidence never hurts. Especially when that confidence may be truth in the near future. Despite not showing it now, Wall has the tools and potential to become a great point guard down the line. But right now, and on Sunday, he has to defer to his teammates. The play of Nene and Beal will be important to watch and any contribution from Otto Porter will help. The Bulls need to do what they do best: defense, and they need to focus this defense on Nene, who has been the difference between winning and losing for the Wizards (won both games against Bulls with him in the lineup). If the old saying is true, then the defense of the Bulls will push them into the next round, but not without a fight from the young Wizards.

Prediction: Bulls 4-3

Sixers Beat Pistons, Snap Losing Streak

After nearly two months of losing, the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers have ended their streak at 26 games when they beat the Detroit Pistons 123-98 on Saturday.

The Sixers scored 70 first half points, which is the most in any first half this season in the win, lead by Thaddeus Young and Michael Carter-Williams with 21 points each. Center Henry Sims added 14 points and 7 rebounds in the winning effort.

The win snapped a 26 game losing streak that tied the NBA record for most losses in a row that is held by the 2010-2011 Cleveland Cavaliers.

The more surprising fact about the losing streak is that even after 26 straight losses, the last win was on Jan. 29, is that the Sixers cannot claim the worst record in the league. That banner is being waved proudly by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Not being the worst team in the league is usually an accomplishment for teams except for when that is the goal at the beginning of the season.

The Philadelphia front office never explicitly stated they wanted to lose games more often than not, but they certainly knew this team had no championship contentions.

A roster laden with rookies and role players had no prayers of competing with the heavy hitters of the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, or Miami Heat, so tanking the season looked like the smart option with the much anticipated free agent summer and hyped draft class of 2014.

The summer of 2014 will be interesting and nothing short of hectic, and there is no doubt that the Sixers will be heavily involved in many trasactions. General Manager Sam Hinkie has already started stockpiling assets in the form of picks.

After trading Center Spencer Hawes and Wing Evan Turner, the future-minded GM now has seven 2014 first round picks, including two first round picks, and possibly four picks in the 2015 draft, depending on  whether the Sixers make the playoffs next year.

As long as there is no season-ending win streak in the future, the Sixers have a top four pick locked, and another lottery pick in the top twelve. That leaves a multitude of options, to say the least.

First off, a top four pick puts them into contention for Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, two players that will most-likely develop into superstar-caliber players in the league. Along with Wiggins/Parker, a bigman that could start on the frontline with Noel would be ideal, preferably a score-first four that would complement the defensive-minded Noel. Someone like Adreian Payne or Aaron Gordon are the top players for their positions.

In my opinion, Payne may be older than Gordon, but his athletic ability is on par with that of Gordon and Payne has a jumpshot that he can make and make often. Just ask Delaware about that. He also has a high IQ and his length alongside Carter-Williams, Noel, and Wiggins/Parker would make for one intimidating defense.

There is always the case that they trade some of their picks. With seven picks and five of them coming in the second round, the chance that all of the players drafted make the team is slim to none. Taking a chance on some trigger-happy wing players or a back up to MCW are the most that they could hope for, but why take the chance.

There are plenty of free agents on the market this summer that could change the course of a franchise. Carmelo Anthony, and the Big Three in Miami, the Sixers could make some noise. With expiring contracts, the Sixers would be wise to package some dead weight at the end of the bench with the extra second-round picks to clear some cap space. Nothing is more enticing for players at the tail-end of their prime than youth that could carry them into their golden years.

That is not to say that Philadelphia is an attractive city by any means, with bipolar fans, a coaching carousel, and a micromanaging front office, there are as many negatives as positives. The presence of LeBron James would turn any fairweather fan into a diehard, and the talent of James to involve his teammates would cover any coaching deficiencies.

James going to Philly is slim to none, but I’m under the impression that anything can happen, and a scenario where the bottom-feeders of the East rise to the ranks of fighting off teams coming for their top spot is intriguing and makes for one killer 30-for-30.

The Sixers have a bright future with the roster they have now. The play of MCW has Philly fans salivating over his potential and Nerlens Noel has not stepped foot onto a professional court yet. Sam Hinkie has traded his way into a great position for the future, and the draft could be the summer of 2014 could be where he chackmates his competition.

What moves do you see the Sixers making this offseason? Answer in the comments below.

Sleeved Jersey Days May Be Numbered

With the recent announcement that the league will “kill” sleeved jerseys if the player decide, Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, will meet with LeBron James and other stars.

Sleeved jerseys made their first appearance as alternate jerseys for the Golden State Warriors this year. The league decided to jump on the bandwagon and created Christmas day jerseys that were lackluster on the court and off.

The solid color jersey consisted of the team logo on the front and the name and number on the back. That’s it. Looking like warm-up shirts, watching the game on a television made the players hard to recognize.

Players and fans alike went to Twitter to show their distaste. Tweets of “awful” and several that called for “mass burnings” are mild in the outcry against the the league’s decision.

The hope of creating fashionable apparel for fans to wear outside of the arena may be squandered as quickly as it started.

However, there are other conspiracies as to why the league was so adamant to making sleeved jerseys the latest and greatest fashion statement. The NBA has been losing profit business as of late, and for those that do not know, that’s not good. Sleeved jerseys create much more real estate for organizations to advertise their product. Think of European soccer or basketball jerseys that are tattered with logos of businesses making them look more like racecars than jerseys.

Out of the 30 teams in the NBA, only a handful are major-market teams, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and New York Knicks. The other teams that fall in cities that are not as desirable to live in have had a problem in the department of ticket sales. Advertisements through commercials will only take a team so far.

If teams that are competing on a smaller market are allowed to start selling spaces on jerseys, it could backfire in a major way.

As soon as jerseys are used for advertisements, the companies selling their products are going to want a team that sells a lot of tickets and is broadcasted regularly on major networks. Teams like the Heat are going to have advertisers knocking down their doors to put their brand on the back of LeBron.

Sleeved jerseys need to go, and in my opinion, they cannot go fast enough. They are ugly, the players don’t like them, fans don’t like them, and they will ultimately further the discrepancy between the big and small market teams.

As a fan of the NBA, would you want to see the jerseys stick around awhile longer or do you want to see them go? Answer in the comments below.

 

Kobe Bryant Announces Kobe, Inc.

His playing days may be numbered, but Kobe Bryant is setting up his career post-NBA with his own company that will invest in products that try to redefine sports technology.

Despite not being a major part of the Lakers season after being sidelined indefinitely by an Achilles injury, Bryant is not sitting quietly on the sidelines. He has already signed an extension with the Lakers that will seemingly make him a lifetime Laker and shown his disapproval of his team and coach Mike D’Antoni.

The upstart of Kobe, Inc. may be a surprise to diehard Laker fans and casual sports fans alike, but Kobe has stated that he has been contemplating the idea for almost fifteen years.

“I have always had ideas and always had a vision of where I wanted to go going back to 2000, but they are just ideas, Kobe said.  “Now, once the Achilles injury took place, I’m sitting at home for months not moving, a couple things set in. One is that there is only so many Modern Family episodes a person can watch. And then two, what do I do now?

In his first business venture, Kobe and company are getting highly involved with the sports drink, BODYARMOR. The drink incorporates coconut water that offers athletes a drink with less sodium than its competitors. Bryant is one of many top-flight athletes among the sports world that includes Andrew Luck and Rob Gronkowski of the NFL and Mike Trout and Buster Posey of the MLB.

If there was any time for Kobe to start setting up his life after basketball, now may be his best opportunity. The Lakers would have had a sub-par season with Kobe in the lineup, but with him sidelined with the injury, the Lakers can tank for the chance at a high lottery pick.

With Kobe looking into the future, it would be wise for the Laker’s front office to do the same.

 

The two-year extension effectively means that the Lakers have two years to create a roster that can win games without Kobe. The 2014 draft is highly-touted with the likes of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle. A name that is unknown to most, but could make a splash by coming off the board early in July is Dante Exum.

The Australian native is a physical point guard, listed at 6’6”, with a nearly polished offensive game and a high basketball IQ. The 19-year-old could have the reigns to a major-market organization. The foreigner has been stateside recently working out with Bryant’s trainer, Rob Pelinka, and attending a few Laker’s games.

Exum would be a perfect centerpiece for any team and under the tutelage of Bryant for two years, the Lakers could set themselves up for a very bright future.

If Bryant can continue to make splashes in the business realm, he could make himself an icon in the basketball world. The Lakers would be smart to align themselves with him post-playing days, whether he is a consultant or an assistant coach, because the battle of LA is being lost and the Lakers are becoming more and more of an anomaly.

The launch of Kobe, Inc. could be the launch of the Lakers comeback.