Bucks owner says pick between Parker, Wiggins
By Charles F. Gardner
Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry did not shy away from speaking about the NBA draft when he addressed a breakfast audience Monday morning at the War Memorial Center in Milwaukee.
Lasry said "our decision got a lot easier" because of the broken foot suffered last week by Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid.
"I think it's hard to take Embiid," Lasry said at a Newsmaker breakfast sponsored by the Milwaukee Press Club and Rotary Club. "He's a phenomenal individual. But with the injury, and how severe and how long it will take him to recover, I think for us today we're going to want someone who is going to help us on Day 1.
"A lot of it is going to depend on what Cleveland does. The other part of it is who contacts us and different things we hear from the draft pick."
Cleveland has the top overall pick and the Bucks have the No. 2 pick in addition to three second-round picks in the NBA draft Thursday night.
Lasry said co-owner Wesley Edens flew to Milwaukee to attend the Bucks' workout of Andrew Wiggins on Friday.
Wiggins, a freshman guard-forward from Kansas, and Jabari Parker, a freshman forward from Duke, are considered the leading candidates to be selected No. 1 overall.
Parker worked out for the Bucks last Tuesday and for Cleveland on Friday.
"We're massively excited," Lasry said of the team's draft hopes. "When you sort of look at it, I think both players would be a phenomenal addition to our team.
"If it's Parker, I think it would be great. If it's Wiggins, it would be great. You're not going to be disappointed either way.
"I think both players bring you different things. For us, I think it's great. If we get Wiggins or Parker, I think for the team you'll start seeing changes pretty quickly, because they are really great players."
Lasry said he and Edens and members of their families will attend the draft at the Barclays Center in New York.
Lasry also spoke about the process of getting a new downtown arena built and said a meeting will be held in New York on Wednesday with three or four stadium developers to get an idea of the overall cost.
He said he anticipates a cost of $350 to $400 million. Lasry and Edens have pledged $100 million toward a new arena and former Bucks owner Herb Kohl has pledged $100 million.
"I think when we do this, we want this to be more than a stadium," Lasry said. "We're talking to the city about that.
"If we could do what we would like, we would love to have a stadium. We would love to have revitalization. We would love to have businesses, restaurants. We'd love it to be more that you could do as opposed to just a stadium."
Lasry said he expects a new arena to seat 16,000 to 18,000 fans with more seats in the lower bowl. At the BMO Harris Bradley Center approximately 10,000 seats are in the upper deck.
The date for announcing additional investors will be on or around July 15, after they are vetted by the NBA, Lasry indicated. He declined to identify those investors at this point.
But he did say, "No big celebrity or star has called me."
At least a $5 million investment is required by the NBA for additional owners, Lasry said, although there may be some leeway.
Lasry said Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio has been "generous" with his time in offering counsel on being a new owner, but he did not say whether Attanasio would be an investor in the Bucks.
Lasry is scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Miller Park Monday night when the Brewers play the Washington Nationals.
In other news, Lasry said a chief financial officer has been hired although the identity of the person will not be announced for a few days. And he indicated interviewing has begun to find a team president for the Bucks organization.
Asked if he and Edens had found a diamond in the rough by purchasing the Bucks for $550 million, Lasry said, "I thought we were."
The Los Angeles Clippers later sold for about $2 billion in a deal being contested by former owner Donald Sterling.
"I thought we paid a fair price," Lasry said. "I think part of the problem is people would rather be in L.A. than Milwaukee. Our view was, 'No.'
"Everybody asked me after it was over if I wished I would have bought the Clippers and my answer was 'Zero.' I had zero interest in being in L.A.
"This is where we wanted to be. Because of that there were less bidders. I think today there would be a lot more bidders."
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said immediately after the Bucks purchase that Edens and Lasry were getting a bargain.
"I was happy to see Cuban said that because at the time we had paid the most for any NBA team. I actually did not know that at the time. I remember my wife telling me, 'Do you know what you just did?'
"Wes and I would rather be in a smaller market. We think that's where the opportunity is. If we can turn it around, you're going to be a very big part of the community. One of the things I love about Milwaukee and the Bucks, if we can turn things around, we've created something and connected with the community."
Check back soon for complete coverage of Marc Lasry's appearance at the Milwaukee Press Club and Rotary Club Newsmakers breakfast.