New Bucks owners say all the right things, that they are committed to Milwaukee

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In all the time that Senator Herb Kohl has been looking for a new owner for the Milwaukee Bucks, the concern of fans was that the new owners would look to buy the team then move it.

Marc Lasry and Wes Edens have no such plans — the two New York hedge fund managers who are buying the team for a reported $550 million emphasized at their introductory press conference they are committed to keeping the team in Milwaukee and they planned to spend a lot of time in the city.

“Milwaukee fans deserve a winning team, this is about winning basketball games, winning championships, and being part of the community, and we look forward to all of those,” Edens said at the press conference announcing the sale.

The Bucks have a ways to go on the whole winning thing — they finished with the worst record in the NBA this season. That said they have some good players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, Larry Sanders, plus this year’s draft pick, to build around.

Bucks fans want to make sure that on the court success happens in Milwaukee, rather than what happened to Seattle fans getting to watch their team succeed in Oklahoma City. Kohl tried to ease those concerns.

“I’m very optimistic, even more than I can express, about the future of our team here in this city….” Kohl said.

“It has been made abundantly clear to them and they have embraced that this is Milwaukee’s team, and that their participation in the NBA is in Milwaukee. That has been gone over with them and they have advanced that proposition themselves.”

To make that happen is going to take a new arena — Commissioner Adam Silver has said that the Bucks current arena does not meet NBA standards. Both Lasry and Edens talked about being hands on in the process to get that new arena built, one that can host hundreds of events and be a catalyst for other development around it.

If course, that costs money. A new arena these days costs at least around $500 million.

At the press conference Kohl committed $100 million from him to get the building built. Lasry and Edens said they would contribute at least that much.

A couple hundred million is a good start, and Kohl said additional money from many different sources, public and private. It’s the public part that could be hard — Milwaukee residents are still paying a little extra sales tax to pay for the Brewers new stadium, and the deadline for when that would sunset has been pushed back twice to 2020. Residents of the city and state may be hesitant to lend much of a helping hand to billionaires to build a new arena for their team.

What should matter to Bucks fans is that right now everyone said all the right things and is committed to keeping the team in Milwaukee in a new arena.

Rumor: Grizzlies had to choose between Marc Gasol and David Fizdale

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David Fizdale has been linked to most of the NBA’s head-coaching vacancies.

He developed a legion of backers as lead a Heat assistant, and he did good things guiding the Grizzlies before they unexpectedly fired him. He deserves consideration.

But he also must explain his fractured relationship with Memphis star Marc Gasol. They weren’t speaking for a while.

And maybe the problem was even worse than that.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

According to a source close to Fizdale briefed on the Grizzlies’ decision, it was ownership having to make a choice — trade their All-Star center Marc Gasol, who has fallen in love with its small-market city, or fire the coach. Their relationship had gotten that bad.

If Grizzlies ownership felt it had to choose between Gasol and Fizdale, it’s not clear why.

Fizdale benched Gasol down the stretch during the coach’s last game, and Gasol publicly expressed his frustration.

But Gasol denied issuing a me-or-Fizdale ultimatum. Fizdale said focus on his relationship with Gasol was “overblown,” adding he cared far more about whether he could win with a player than whether they got along personally.

Memphis obviously sided with Gasol – probably too strongly.

LeBron James bought Cavs teammates matching designer suits to wear to game tonight

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I’m still trying to decide if this is cool or a little too Stepford.

The Cavaliers rolled into the Bakers’ Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis tonight wearing matching designer suits, all paid for by LeBron James and custom fitted to each player.

If a college team rolled into a game in four-digit designer suits, the NCAA would have questions. And not about the vests.

The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team, and if he wants to buy his teammates suits and tell them to wear them it’s going to happen. Is it a bonding thing that helps bring them together? Sure. Is it in place to make sure LeBron remembers which ones are his new teammates? Probably not.

Do the suits help on the court? No. And the Cavaliers better bring it in Game 3 because if they go down 2-1 in this series — something that is a realistic possibility — the whispers of doubt are going to get a lot louder.

Report: Knicks to discuss coaching vacancy with Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer

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Mike Budenholzer is restless in Atlanta, seeing a rebuild coming and looking at other jobs (something Hawks management is fine with). He went down the road a ways with the Suns before pulling out of that process, but he’s still looking around.

The Knicks are casting a wide net in their search, talking to virtually everyone looking for coaching jobs.

So, this seemed inevitable, right? Budenholzer and the Knicks are going to talk, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This will be very preliminary. The Knicks have already had some level of conversation with Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Jerry Stackhouse, David Blatt, Mike Woodson, and TNT analyst Kenny Smith (Jackson and Fizdale are the rumored early leaders). Budenholzer has established a style and culture in Atlanta, giving the franchise a path forward. New York could certainly use that.

However, the Knicks job comes with real challenges, too. That starts with James Dolan as owner and the erratic, at times paranoid culture he has created there. Also, expectations in New York are always high, but the team will be without Kristaps Porzigis for at least half (maybe all) of the upcoming season as he recovers from an ACL injury, and that puts a ceiling on the team in the short term. Is all that worth leaving Atlanta for?

 

Stephen Curry to begin “modified” practices with Warriors

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Golden State has flipped the switch in the first round, going up 3-0 on overmatched San Antonio. The Warriors have been outscoring the Spurs by 20.2 points per 100 possessions in the series, allowing less than a point per possession on defense and scoring when and where they want. Kevin Durant is averaging 27.3 points per game, Klay Thompson is shooting 63.3 percent from three and scoring 25.7 points per game, and the Warriors are clicking.

But they are not yet whole — they need Stephen Curry back. Not for this round, but before the Western Conference Finals for sure.

Curry was re-evaluated Friday and will begin practicing with the team in a limited — or “modified” to use the team’s term — way.

The target has always been a return somewhere during the second round, and that still seems to be on track. That is also a little faster than traditional for a Grade 2 MCL sprain, which can take up to two months to heal (not the 4-6 weeks of the Warriors timeline), but the Warriors are being cautious here for now.

Eventually, the Warriors will need him back — their offense is built around Curry and his ball movement and movement off the ball. Curry’s gravity to draw defenders, even when he doesn’t have the ball, opens up the floor for others. Put simply, if he’s 28 feet from the bucket on the weak side defenders still have to watch and be near him, and help defenders need to be aware, which pulls the defense to wherever he is. Without Curry and the Warriors take more midrange jumpers, it’s just in the first round series against the Spurs they are hitting them.