May 14, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT
This was expected to happen soon — if you find guys willing to spend $550 million on the Milwaukee Bucks, you jump on it.
The NBA found that with hedge fund billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry and those two are expected to be approved by the owners on Thursday, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
In the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal, there was a push within the league to have an extra thorough vetting of the new owners, sources said. That process, however, is complete and the league’s Board of Governors will approve the transaction that was initially signed last month.
The timing of the sale will allow Edens and Lasry to take control of the team before next Tuesday’s draft lottery in New York, which was a priority. The Bucks, at 25 percent, have the highest odds to win the lottery after an NBA-worst 15-67 season. The high draft choice in what is expected to be a deep draft was one of the attractive selling points of the team.
The lottery will be exciting, but that’s not where the real work with the Bucks will be — they need a new arena.
Edens and Lasry have said they would pitch in $100 million toward a new arena, and soon-to-be former owner Herb Kohl has pledged $100 million. That’s a lot of cash, but it’s only about two-fifths of what will be needed. Edens and Lasry need to find the other money (likely trying convince the local or state government to pitch in, which will be a tough sell), then they need to get a location and start the approvals process.
The deadline is 2017, when the Bucks current lease is up.
If a new arena deal is not in place, the sale agreement says the league can buy the Bucks back from Edens and Lasry for $575 million. That would prevent them from just moving the team or trying to flip it.
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