If you’re new owners of an NBA team trying to get a city behind you so you can get some public financing, coming off as disloyal to the staff in place is not the best first move.
But that’s what Milwaukee Bucks owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens — Lasry in particular — admitted to at the introductory press conference for their new team coach Jason Kidd.
Lasry had a relationship with Kidd from when he was part owner of the Nets and that helped spark the conversations between the two sides (which Kidd tried to leverage into more power in Brooklyn but that failed).
The Bucks owners apologized for how they handled everything — nobody was brought in on the talks, not even GM John Hammond. This is the owners’ rationale, as told to Charles Gardner of the Journal Sentinel.
“We were naïve about how this business is put out to the press,” Edens said. “We are used to operating in businesses where discretion is necessary and part of the fabric of it.
“The degree to which the media plays an integral role in basketball was a shock to me.”
Lasry and Edens said they plan to have clear channels of communication in the future and will be involved along with Kidd and Hammond.
“We made the mistake of taking them at face value with what they asked us to do,” Edens said of the Nets owners, who asked for confidentiality in the talks.
As excuses go that is a pretty poor one. The issue isn’t that it became public, the issue is that you went behind the back of your coach to replace him without warning, and didn’t bother to include the guy supposed to be in charge of your basketball operations in that discussion. It was your actions, not your naiveté. It’s their team, they can bring in who you want as coach, but if the two owners had been up front and above board from the start this wouldn’t have been an issue.
This has not played terribly well in Milwaukee, which goes back to the first paragraph of this story — it was already going to be a very hard sell in Milwaukee to get public financing approved for a needed new arena. This is a step in the wrong direction. There is more than enough time to correct that — Kidd doing well as a coach and being good in the community will be a part of that — but the owners need to show they are committed to the city and learn from their mistakes.