New Bucks owners evaluating, but concentrating on business side

New Milwaukee Bucks owners Wesley Edens (left) and Marc Lasry had their first meeting with general manager John Hammond and assistant general manager David Morway on Wednesday and haven't given any indication a change is coming on the basketball operations side of things.

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"We’re working with these guys," Edens said. "They’re the organization we are supporting right now. We’re in the middle of figuring out who to draft and what the season looks like. It’s very much of what the process is.

"It doesn’t happen overnight. You build a very solid foundation and build from there. We want to have a championship winning basketball team here and you start with the pieces you’ve got and build around it."

Hammond, Morway and head coach Larry Drew took in Milwaukee’s draft workout with the new owners Thursday. The Bucks own the No. 2 pick in this June’s draft, but also have three second-round picks. Lasry said he and his partner plan to take a comprehensive look at the entire franchise before making any decisions.

The Bucks planned to have a camp for their young players in Las Vegas prior to the NBA Summer League in mid-July.

"We’re going to be sitting down with John and David," Lasry said. "It’s a bit early for all of this stuff. We’re trying to spend as much time with John and David and the basketball operations side. They’ve given us a number of proposals that I think Wes and I need to look through."

While neither would come out and say Drew, Hammond or Morway are completely safe, it appears as if the new owners are satisfied moving forward with the current basketball operations staff.

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"I think on the basketball side right now, John, David and Larry have been doing a great job, at least from all the dealings we’ve had," Lasry said. "I think on the business side, that needs some help. I think right now the focus is going to be there.

"When you look at where the Bucks have been over the last number of years — whether it is on the operations side — I think it there is a lot of room to improve. The business side we understand pretty well. We think we actually can improve on that quite a bit."

Lasry and Edens’ day in Milwaukee began with a tour of the Miller-Coors Brewery and also includes a visit with former Bucks owner Herb Kohl on Thursday afternoon. Later in the evening, the new owners will host a viewing party for fans to watch Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals at a Milwaukee bar with them.

Sarah Watterson, director of investor relations for Edens’ Fortress Investment Group LLC, has replaced Bucks executive vice president for business administration Ron Walter on the 48-member Clutural and Entertainment Capital Needs Task Force.

It is the first major move made by the owners in the discussion on a new arena.

"That’s really going to kick off in high gear now," Edens said. "We’re going to meet with a number of the big design firms and get their views on it. There’s four arenas that are going to be built at the same time — the Kings are going to build theirs, the Warriors are going to build theirs, we’ll build ours and then there’s one built in Las Vegas.

"I think you can take the best ideas and synthesize that together into one big product. It will just be a matter of figuring out how to pay for it."

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Lasry and Edens also plan to meet with other NBA owners over the course of the coming months to pick their brains and try and learn from the mistakes others have made.

But for now, the evaluation process is still ongoing.

"You find it starts from the top," Lasry said. "You have to get a great CEO. You need people that live this thing 24/7. That’s sort of what we are going to try to do."

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