WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Bucks' sale expected to be approved tomorrow by NBA
MILWAUKEE - ESPN says the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks is expected to be approved by the NBA tomorrow. The league's Board of Governors will be asked to endorse Herb Kohl's selling of the Bucks to New York hedge fund billionaires Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens for $550-million.
ESPN said the league has completed a very thorough review of the new owners, spurred by the controversy involving Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling's admitted racial remarks. Lasry must still complete a liquidation of his minority share of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets. ESPN says the deal would allow the NBA to buy the Bucks back for $575-million, if a new arena is not sealed by 2017 when the current lease at the Bradley Center expires. Kohl reportedly insisted on the unique provision, to guarantee that the new owners don't move the Bucks if the arena funding is not approved. Meanwhile, general manager John Hammond and coach Larry Drew are making their plans for next season -- even though the new owners have not given any indication of the two men's futures. The Bucks' are getting ready for the NBA Draft Lottery next Tuesday night, which gives them the best chance of securing the No. 1 pick in the June draft.
Milwaukee Bucks' players have long complained about de facto road games when the Chicago Bulls come to town, and their fans snap up the tickets. Now, we learn that Wisconsinites have something to do with that. The New York Times has produced a map of Facebook "likes" for every NBA team. And it shows that the Bulls are the most popular team in Racine County, with 22-percent of its "likes" favoring Chicago. In Kenosha County, which is officially a part of the Chicago metro, 29-percent favor the Bulls. In Milwaukee County, 27-percent of the Facebook "likes" favor the hometown Bucks. Waukesha County offers even more support at 42-percent. Traditionally, the Bucks need to play well in order to keep Chicago fans away -- and they haven't done that lately. It will be just one challenge facing the impending new owners, Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry.
Former Bucks' star Marques Johnson said Donald Sterling treated him like "bat guano" when he played for the LA Clippers in the mid-1980's. Now, as an NBA analyst on Fox Sports One, Johnson is the latest to demand that Sterling be forced to sell his team. Marques Johnson played in LA for three seasons in the mid-1980's, after he starred with Milwaukee for seven years. He recently said the NBA must remove Sterling "by any means necessary." Johnson talked about his time with the Clippers, when had a severe neck injury in 1986, and he lost his son in a drowning accident a year later. He said an intermediary encouraged him to call Sterling because he wanted to reach out, and talk about an impending contract dispute they were having. Johnson said he called -- and in his words, "He told me he was going to ruin me, that he was going to crush me financially, and that I needed to go ahead and settle on his terms if I wanted to have any money left. He talked to me like I was a piece of just bat guano."
The Detroit Pistons were expected to announce today that Stan Van Gundy will become their new head coach and president of basketball operations. Media reports said the Pistons would announce the deal later today, with a news conference planned for tomorrow. Van Gundy has reportedly agreed to a five-year deal worth $35-million. The Golden State Warriors were also said to be interested in having Van Gundy replace their fired coach Mark Jackson -- but Detroit has reportedly offered to give former University of Wisconsin men's basketball coach more control over his new team.
Milwaukee Brewers' right-hander Wily Peralta has been solid, even though he lost two of his last three starts. Peralta had a relatively stingy ERA of 2.14 in his last three outings -- but the Brewer offense scored only three total runs during those appearances. Tonight, he expects a little more run support when the Brewers host Pittsburgh again. The Crew has won three straight while scoring 16 runs in those games -- five of them last night, as Milwaukee improved to 7-1 over the Pirates this season. Peralta is 4-2 overall, with a 2.17 ERA. Pittsburgh will put up left-hander Francisco Liriano, who's still searching for his first win of the season. He has lost three decisions, and his ERA is almost 4.75. Liriano has dropped four consecutive road starts, dating back to last September. He escaped with a no-decision last Friday night despite giving a three-run homer against Saint Louis. The Milwaukee Brewers will try to win their sixth straight home game over Pittsburgh tonight. Questions still remain about the Milwaukee offense, due to lingering concerns over a couple of key players. Ryan Braun is being eased back into the line-up, after he strained an oblique muscle on April 26th. He was scheduled to play only six innings last night -- and that's when he left after going 0-for-2 with a walk. Carlos Gomez also left early in last night's win over the Pirates, after his lower back tightened up. Gomez might not be able to play regardless, if Major League Baseball upholds or reduces his three-game suspension today stemming from the Easter Sunday bench-clearing brawl at Pittsburgh. Then there's Aramis Ramirez, who was put on the disabled list as expected yesterday with a strained hamstring. The Brewers recalled Elian Herrera from Triple-"A" Nashville, in part to cover the team in case Gomez has to sit out. Herrera had two hits last night after he replaced Gomez in center. In fact, the Brewers' offense has been overcoming its injury bug for now. The Crew has batted .330 in its last three games, while scoring 16 runs. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy has helped pick up the slack, with five hits in his last nine at-bats including a homer and five RBI's.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will host Quad Cities again tonight in the Midwest League. The Rattlers are coming off a 10-4 victory last night near Appleton. The Beloit Snappers will host Kane County again. Beloit is coming off a 3-2 victory over the Cougars.
Sun Prairie is the Division 1 leader in a new Wisconsin high school baseball poll from the state coaches' association. Holmen is ranked second, followed by Stevens Point and Wilmot. In Division 2, Denmark leads the way. Ellsworth is second and Jefferson third. Marathon is the Division 3 leader, followed by Brookfield Academy and Neillsville. And in Division 4, Lake County Lutheran is ranked at No. 1 with Wausaukee and Barneveld in the two-and-three slots.
We're learning about more Wisconsin football players trying out for NFL teams over the next few weeks. A few days ago, former Waupaca High School quarterback Brock Jensen signed a contract with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent. Former Badgers' defensive end Ethan Hemer from Medford has already attended team meetings with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Seattle Seahawks have invited ex-Badgers' defensive end Brendan Kelly to their rookie mini-camp. Hartland Arrowhead High School kicker Jeff Budzien of Northwestern has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. And Somerset native Bryan Witzmann of South Dakota State has signed with the Houston Texans. Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers have signed a 13th undrafted free agent -- offensive lineman John Fullington from Washington State. The Packers will hold their rookie camp this weekend.