Ex-NBA forward, Kevin Martin could be the NBL’s third American franchise majority stakeholder.
According to journalist Marc Stein, Martin is leading a group that is buying the Bullets. Should this deal proceed as planned, Martin becomes the third American with a controlling stake in the league, along with New Zealand Breakers owner Matt Walsh, and the South East Melbourne Phoenix’s Romie Chaudari.
The forward is expected to spend his time in the coming 2019/20 NBL season in an “observance/fact-finding mode”, before he takes a more active role in the season after.
Update: The NBL officially announced the news on Monday evening, confirming Martin’s ownership group will acquire a 75% stake in the Brisbane Bullets – 37.5% will be vested right away, with the remainder to happen at the end of the 2019/20 season.
The league will retain the remaining 25% for two years, with Martin’s ownership group having a call option.
“We are thrilled to announce our investment in the Brisbane Bullets and to get started as a steward of this tremendous organization,” Martin shared in the release. “We have been searching for a couple years for the right opportunity to invest in a team in a premier basketball league outside of the United States, and we are delighted to be joining a league that is truly considered one of the best in the world on every metric.
“Both the basketball and the business proposition stack up for us and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of that. I am appreciative and humbled that the NBL have been so trusting and supportive of me and my backers, and I am looking forward to working collectively to help ensure that both the Bullets and the league realise their vast potential.”
Martin is part of the growing wave of current and former NBA players to invest in NBL team ownership. Earlier in July, ex-players Zach Randolph, Josh Childress and Al Harrington also purchased ownership stakes in the Phoenix.
“Seeing players like James Ennis, Torrey Craig and Terrance Ferguson come back to the NBA and make their mark made me take a little more notice to the NBL,” Randolph said.
“The audience for basketball in Australia is huge and South East Melbourne is the most significant basketball region in the country, it’s Australia’s basketball heartland. I am happy to be a part of this organization and offer my basketball knowledge to help make South East Melbourne Phoenix successful.”
Shawn Marion is also part of the ownership group for the Breakers, while Australian guard Dante Exum, who’s currently playing for the Utah Jazz, recently committed to ownership with the Phoenix.
“Actually I was looking to maybe being a part owner of a soccer team. I was definitely intrigued about the opportunity to be a sports owner,” Marion shared with the NZ Herald. “Matt [Walsh] talked to me and I saw the opportunity and it excited me so I thought why not, man. It’s another cool adventure for me right now.”
The high-profile signings of NBA lottery prospects like RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball have undoubtedly contributed to the rise of the NBL’s international exposure. Strong ownership groups, especially with international stakeholders will strengthen the teams and league from a financial standpoint, and continue to improve the NBL’s branding as a quality product that deserves attention not only within Australia.