Report: Bucks owner reaches out to Junior Bridgeman as minority investor, Kareem wants gig, too

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We’ve told you before that current Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl is looking for more investors to come in, to help keep the team in Milwaukee. It’s a few years out until their lease is up (2017) but a new arena is needed there, even Commissioner Adam Silver has said as much. That leaves other cities and people looking to buy a team and move it (yes, maybe Seattle) lurking in the wings).

Among the people Kohl reached out to is former Buck player and successful entrepreneur Junior Bridgeman.

This according to the Journal-Sentinel, via Bucksketball.

A source with knowledge of Herb Kohl’s efforts to bring in new investors to the Milwaukee Bucks as a way of keeping the team in Milwaukee, said Bridgeman, one of the wealthiest African-Americans in the country, has been approached about investing in the team, and he expressed interest.

Kohl has retained Allen & Co., of New York, to locate potential investors. Bridgeman would seem to be an ideal candidate for the Bucks. He knows the game. He played in Milwaukee. And he is a successful businessman.

Bridgeman played a dozen years in the NBA and 10 of those were in Milwaukee. He still holds the record for most games played by anyone in a Bucks uniform (711).

After his playing days Bridgeman got into fast food franchising and now owns 160 Wendy’s, more than 100 Chili’s and an assortment of other restaurants. Forbes estimated his net worth at north of $200 million.

Bridgeman is currently a minority investor in the new Sacramento Kings ownership group, if he were to buy into the Bucks he’d have to sell that share. Not hard or a big deal, but a hurdle.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar does not have any role with the Bucks — but he would like one. In some capacity, not necessarily just as an investor.

That’s what he told the Associated Press.

“If I get a call, I will definitely offer my services,” said Abdul-Jabbar, the franchise’s career leading scorer with 14,211 points. “There’s nothing on the table right now. A couple of people have asked me and if I had the chance to be part of this franchise again, I would take it….

“They have to get their business model right,” Abdul-Jabbar said Monday. “I hope that the Bucks are able to sort it all out and get on a good footing. You can’t win it all unless you get the right players and you can’t get the right players unless you’re really in a good position as a business.”

We’ll see if that call comes for Kareem. His years of being aloof and unresponsive to fans and people around the league have kept him out of coaching jobs and more — people don’t go out of their way to help people who are not nice to them. But maybe the Bucks — the franchise he carried to its one and only title — would be a place to get his foot back in the door.

Jazz deny rumored promise to draft D.J. Wilson

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Michigan forward D.J. Wilson said he’d stay in the draft only if he’d go in the first round. Yet, despite not doing any on-court work at the combine, the borderline first-rounder remained in the draft beyond the withdrawal deadline.

What gives?

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

Kyle Goon of The Salt Lake Tribune:

NBA teams sometimes promise to draft a player. They never reveal that before the draft. So, Utah’s denial doesn’t mean much – even if it’s true.

The Jazz were the last team to give Wilson a full work out before he injured himself in a Spurs workout. So, this rumor could be based on circumstantial evidence rather than leak of a Utah guarantee.

Wilson would make sense for the Jazz, who could see their payroll bloat if they re-sign Gordon Hayward and George Hill (and maybe even Joe Ingles). They could move Derrick Favors, an interior who doesn’t exactly fit with Rudy Gobert. Wilson would give Utah another option with Trey Lyles as developing stretch fours behind Boris Diaw. (Utah could even move Diaw and count on Lyles/Wilson to emerge sooner than later.)

Watch LeBron James’ top highlight from each of his postseason appearances (video)

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LeBron James and Tony Parker are the only players to play in the last dozen postseasons.

(If you’re wondering, Manu Ginobili missed the 2009 playoffs due to an ankle injury.)

It’s fair to say LeBron was a bit more spectacular than Parker in that span. As LeBron enters his seventh straight Finals, the NBA released this awesome video showing LeBron’s best playoff highlight from each year:

There’s no entry for this year. Here’s betting it comes against the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

David Stern: We thought we could re-work Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade until Mitch Kupchak ‘panicked’

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NBA commissioner David Stern – acting as New Orleans’ owner representative, he says – infamously vetoed a potential Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade in 2011.

But that didn’t close the possibility of Paul going to the Lakers.

The New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans and not be confused with the current Charlotte Hornets), Lakers and Rockets tried to rework the three-team trade that would’ve sent Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick to New Orleans. But talks fell apart around the time the Lakers dealt Odom to the Mavericks.

Stern on Nunyo & Company (hat tip: Harrison Feigen of Silver Screen & Roll):

In fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with Kevin Lowry, and we had a trade lined up for Odom that would have gotten us a good first-round draft pick – not we, but my basketball folks. But Mitch Kupchak at the time panicked and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn’t even there for us to play with at the time. So that was it — just about what was good for the then-New Orleans Hornets.

Remember, Stern – roundly criticized for his handling of this episode* – has blamed the Lakers and Rockets for the lingering perception. This could just be him again trying to shift responsibility.

*Somewhat fairly, somewhat not. Owners veto general manager-approved trades often enough, and Stern was acting as New Orleans’ owner after George Shinn sold the franchise back to the league. But Stern had an agenda as commissioner. He never should have assumed such a large conflict of interest. What he did with the Paul trade was reasonable for an acting owner, but because Stern was also commissioner, it’s fair to question how much New Orleans’ interests and how much the league’s interests factored into the decision-making.

But let’s take Stern at his word – that he and the Hornets thought they could re-do the trade and send Paul to the Lakers. That doesn’t mean they were right. Maybe the Lakers and Rockets (who had Kyle Lowry, not the “Kevin Lowry” Stern named) were never going to part with enough to get Stern’s approval.

And maybe New Orleans didn’t properly convey its interest in still completing a deal. Perhaps, Kupchak acted reasonably by trading Odom to Dallas – for a first-round pick, a deal Mark Cuban would ultimately regret – rather than wait around for the Hornets, who eventually sent Paul to the Clippers.

It’s easy to blame Kupchak, but he might tell a different story.

Isaiah Thomas makes it clear he wants to stay in Boston

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It’s been a long time since there was so much discussion about whether a team needs to trade or just let go of an All-NBA and All-Star player at his peak who is clear and away a fan favorite.

Yet that’s where the Boston Celtics and Isaiah Thomas find themselves. After landing the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft — where they will almost certainly take point guard Markelle Fultz — and with the Celtics looking a full couple steps behind the Cavaliers in the playoffs, the question about whether Thomas is part of the future in Boston has come up. He is a free agent in 2018 and are the Celtics willing to pay the big money it will take to keep him?

Know this, Thomas wants to remain a Celtic and win a Celtic. You can listen to his full comments above, but Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe has the money quote:

Outside of chasing Gordon Hayward, this summer the Celtics are going to focus on getter some frontcourt help, someone to help with rebounding and rim protection. They will look to get better, but Danny Ainge isn’t going to push all his chips into the middle of the table to make a gambit on immediate massive improvement. He will remain patient, building this team so that in three years and five years they will be a force in the East.

And the Thomas discussion likely gets put on hold for a year (unless there is a change of course and contract extension talks come up, but that’s only if Boston misses on Hayward and any other big targets).