Report: Mike Ilitch close to purchase of Detroit Pistons

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Thumbnail image for pistons_logo.pngMike Ilitch, the owner of the Detroit Red Wings and Tigers, is working on the final details to purchase the Detroit Pistons, according to the Associated Press and Crains Detroit Business Journal.

Current Pistons owner Karen Davidson (who took control when her husband Bill died) had said she wanted to have the team sold by the start of the season. It appears that the two sides may well have an agreement by then, although the sale cannot go through until the NBA Board of Governors (the owners) approve the sale, which likely will take a little longer.

The price is not yet known, although it is expected to be maybe $100 million less than the $450 million value estimated by Forbes last year.

This decision — when there were other suitors lined up — is a little bit of a surprise because of bad blood between Ilitch’s holding company and Davidson’s Palace Sports and Entertainment (which has included trips to court). However, Davidson said she had wanted to make sure the Pistons would not leave Detroit and this makes that a certainty.

Ilitch made his money as the founder of the Little Caesars pizza chain. Ilitch would become the only person to own teams in three of the four major sports leagues in the United States (NFL bylaws would prevent him from buying the Lions without selling the other teams).

It could be a good thing for a Pistons team that had been a powerhouse in much of the 2000s (what is the right name for that decade?) but had slipped in recent years and is on the verge of needing to rebuild on the court. Ilitch has had the Red Wings as one of the top teams in hockey during his tenure, and has done reasonably well in baseball (considering the tortured economics of that sport and competing with the big boys).

Ilitch has already started the planning for a new downtown Detroit arena that would house the Red Wings and now the Pistons, as part of a revival of that area. That deal now seems to take a step forward.

Owning three teams opens up some interesting ideas in terms of selling sponsorship and advertising for the three entieites.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.