Report: Sale of Atlanta Hawks “moving fast”

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We still don’t know who the buyer is, but apparently the sale of the Atlanta Hawks is moving along quickly.

The Atlanta Spirit — the name of the ownership group — recently sold the NHL’s Thrashers (which moved to Winnipeg) and now are on track to sell the NBA team.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has the report.

People familiar with the process say representatives of a potential buyer are doing due diligence — examining financial records — as the process moves toward a possible offer and more detailed negotiations for the basketball team and Philips Arena operating rights.

The people familiar with the situation, speaking exclusively with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, would not identify the potential bidder because of confidentiality agreements, but described the process as moving fast. They said no offer or exclusive negotiating agreement is in place but that the potential bidder, who might have partners, has the financial wherewithal to complete a transaction.

While the sale price is not known, Forbes values the Hawks at $295 million. Expect toe Spirit or maintain a minority share in the team.

After the anonymous bidder does his due diligence, the usual procedure is for the Spirit and owner to set up an “exclusive right to negotiate” deal that locks out other bidders for a time. Then the two sides haggle over a price. If they can come to a deal, then they still need the approval of the other NBA owners.

Unlike the Thrashers, the Hawks are not going anywhere. First, the new owner is buying the building operating rights, not a sign he wants to move on. Also, the AJC reports there would be $195 million in loans that would need to be paid off first, which is a steep price to move a team.

The Spirit did have an exclusive negotiating period with John Moores, the man in the process of selling the San Diego Padres. However, no deal was reached.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.