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).