According to a report from the Milwaukee Business Journal, new Bucks owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens have sold $84.5 million to various local minority investors.
The investors, whose names were not previously disclosed, include six Milwaukee-area businessmen:
The biggest name disclosed so far, as far as Milwaukee-area business assets, is Ted Kellner, the executive chairman of both Fiduciary Management Inc. and Fiduciary Real Estate Development. The next-biggest name is Keith Mardak, CEO and chairman of Hal Leonard Corp., a Milwaukee sheet-music and online-music publisher.
The other four minority investors disclosed so far are: Milwaukee Brewers executive Teddy Werner, Milwaukee media and marketing executive Craig Karmazin, Kapco Inc. president and Lakeshore Chinooks owner Jim Kacmarcik, and Mike Kocourek, who lives in Lake Geneva where he owns and operates a commercial real estate portfolio.
To accommodate the new investors, Lasry and Edens recently founded a corporation, aptly named Fear The Deer LLC, which serves as the “holding entity for the capital raised outside of the principal investors,” per the report.
The NBA was believed to require a minimum $5 million commitment from new shareholders, though Lasry indicated last month that some investors could be let in for less.
The Bucks also made some notable organizational changes recently. Patrick McDonough, longtime New York Knicks/MSG executive, will take over as CFO, while Bob Cook, the former vice president at HNTB Corporation, will serve as VP of Business Affairs. Per the Bucks’ official release:
Prior to joining the Bucks, Cook served as a vice president at HNTB Corporation, a national engineering and architecture company specializing in complex transportation projects and sports venues. At HNTB, Cook was based in Wisconsin’s state capital and brings with him a wealth of relationships in government, policy and statewide community organizations that will allow the Bucks brand to elevate beyond the Milwaukee city limits to become a respected name across the state and a true partner in both local and statewide economic revitalization.
So yeah, Cook brings a ton of extremely useful experience and connections to the front office. As far as the arena process is concerned, having him on board is massive. I’m not going to lie and say I know much more about Cook, but if nothing else he’ll be a strong presence to assist in leading the fund-raising campaign, as well as designing and managing arena costs.
Along with the additions of McDonough and Cook, the Bucks also assigned veteran executive John Steinmiller to a new role as Executive Vice President of Community Affairs and Social Responsibility. Beginning his 45th year with the franchise, Steinmiller will “reinforce the team’s commitment to the region through the planning and implementation of team and league-wide initiatives,” according to the release. “He will also lend his years of experience to assist Lasry and Edens in their efforts to engage as new members of the community.”
Bucks Sign Jerryd Bayless, Finally
— Andrew Gruman (@AndrewGruman) July 31, 2014
The Bucks ended their standoff with Jerryd Bayless on Thursday, officially signing the guard to a contract. The terms of the deal have not been released.
The signing comes more than two weeks after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Bayless was “closing in” on a deal with Milwaukee. That report indicated Bayless would receive a two-year deal with a total value of $6-to-$7 million. Now, whether those figures are accurate is anyone’s guess at this point, but a $3-to-$4 million annual price tag seems about right. Bayless’ previous deal paid him $6.135 million over two years.
The 25-year-old, who split last season between the Grizzlies and Celtics, will join his seventh team in as many NBA seasons. He arrived in Boston in January as part of a three-team deal that delivered Courtney Lee to Memphis. After averaging 8.1 points on just 37.7 percent shooting with the Grizzlies, Bayless’ production improved to 10.1 points on 41.8 percent shooting (39.5% 3PT) as a member of the Celtics.
A true combo guard, Bayless should see plenty of minutes at both backcourt spots this season. His position has been fluid throughout his career. As we noted previously, he’s had more success at the shooting guard position. But, at 6-foot-3, he’s the size of a point guard.
Last season was a prime example of his fluidity: In Memphis, Bayless spent 61 percent of his minutes at the point. In Boston? 25 percent. And as the chart below demonstrates, it was by no means an anomaly.
Bayless brings much-needed versatility to a Bucks’ backcourt filled with unknowns. Brandon Knight experienced relative success as a shoot-first point guard last season, but it remains to be seen whether that will be his long-term positional fit. He’s expected to be the starter again this season, meaning Bayless will compete with O.J. Mayo and Carlos Delfino (yes, he still plays for the Bucks) for the starting shooting guard spot. Chances are, Giannis Antetokounmpo will work his way into the backcourt rotation as well.
Even with Knight slated to start, pairing him in lineups with Bayless – or fellow recent-signee Kendall Marshall – would allow Knight to play off the ball, where he’s a more efficient outside shooter. Knight shot a career-worst 32 percent from three last season, due in large part to a high volume of pull-up attempts. Only 64.5 percent of Knight’s made threes resulted in an assist, compared to 89.2 percent two years ago with Detroit, when he converted nearly 37 percent of his attempts. It’s not a massive difference, shooting percentage-wise, but the numbers lend credence to the belief that both Knight and the Bucks could benefit by playing him off the ball more frequently.
The Bayless signing leaves the Bucks with 17 players currently under contract. That number is not likely to change prior to training camp, but the roster will have to be whittled down to 15 before the season begins. A multi-player trade centered around, say, Ersan Ilyasova could be one way to do so, but the chances of that happening appear slim-to-none at this point.
The more realistic scenario is the Bucks waiving two players. That means Chris Wright and his non-guaranteed deal are all but gone. The second move is more difficult to project, but Miroslav Raduljica comes to mind as a potential candidate to be waived. His deal is guaranteed for next season, but he’s owed only $1.5 million.
Johnny O’Bryant Signs Rookie Deal
In addition to the Bayless signing, the Bucks also announced 36th overall pick Johnny O’Bryant signed his rookie contract, for which the terms were also not disclosed.
The former McDonald’s All-American was a three-year standout at LSU, twice earning All-SEC First Team honors. O’Bryant averaged 12.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 91 career games.
A 6-9 power forward, O’Bryant appeared in all five of Milwaukee’s Las Vegas Summer League contests, posting 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game. While his inexperience was often on display, O’Bryant was comfortable around the rim and flashed an emerging mid-range game.
He’ll enter the season as Milwaukee’s fourth or fifth power forward – depending upon how you view Khris Middleton – likely seeing most of his rookie minutes in garbage time.