The $550 million sale of the Milwaukee Bucks to hedge fund billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry is expected to be finalized by the NBA on Thursday, a source involved in the process told ESPN.com.
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.
Edens and Lasry, who will have to liquidate a minority share of the Brooklyn Nets he currently owns, have pledged $100 million in additional funds to help construct a new arena in Milwaukee. Outgoing owner Herb Kohl, who has controlled the team since 1985, has agreed to gift the city $100 million from the purchase toward the arena.
Edens and Lasry are hoping to forge a public-private funding deal to replace the aging Bradley Center similar to the agreement just finalized in Sacramento for the Kings. In that deal, the Kings new $477 million arena is getting $254 million from the team and $223 from government funding. However, there are already opposition groups in Wisconsin lining up against public funding for the Bucks.
In a unique part of the sales contract, the NBA has the right to buy the Bucks back from Edens and Lasry for $575 million if a new arena isn't finalized by 2017, when the Bucks' current lease is up. This was a provision installed by Kohl to ensure the new owners would not have the option to move the team if arena funding doesn't come through.
The Bucks front office, led by general manager John Hammond, and coach Larry Drew have been going through standard preparation ahead of the June 26 draft. Edens and Lasry have given no indication yet of their plans, though it is common for new owners to make management changes.