MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry spoke his mind when talking about the NBA draft before a breakfast audience Monday morning at the War Memorial Center.
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."
Embiid suffered a broken navicular bone in his right foot and could be sidelined four to six months. He underwent surgery to repair the injury on Friday.
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. It's uncertain where Embiid will land, although it is expected he still will be selected fairly high.
Parker, considered the most NBA-ready of the top picks, 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."
The Bucks also have shown sincere interest in Australian guard Dante Exum, an 18-year-old who did not play college basketball last season but has displayed enough potential to move among the top four prospects in the draft. The Bucks held a full workout with Exum on June 14.
Lasry said he and Edens and members of their families will attend the draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Thursday night.
Lasry joked about his appearance with Edens at McGillycuddy's Bar and Grill a few weeks ago, when a huge crowd of Bucks fans greeted the new owners.
"I didn't realize there were 400 different views of who should we pick," Lasry said. "Most people say, 'Oh, I don't know.' People in Milwaukee are like, 'Here's what you've got to do.'
"It's actually been great. I think it's a process for us and a process for the people of Milwaukee."
Lasry said it's important to develop a winning culture in the organization.
"You just demand excellence from the business side, from the players, from everybody," Lasry said. "We've seen that works at our (investment) firms.
"You've also got to have very talented people. We're trying to build a team over the next five years that can compete for a championship."
Lasry said it will not be a financial issue on the new owners' part to pay players or seek out free agents. The Bucks have been a team that has stayed out of luxury tax territory and has tried to stay close to or just over the league salary cap.
"I think we have to increase our payroll," he said.
Asked if free agents would want to come to Milwaukee, Lasry said, "Nobody's going to come to Milwaukee if the team did what it did last year.
"Part of it is you've got a team people want to play for. For that, we've got to be very good. If we have a great young team and we have a foundation, you're going to find a number of free agents are going to want to come here.
"If the Bucks are doing well, you're going to be able to attract people."
He did say some veteran players would be pursued after July 1 when the league allows discussions with free agents.
Lasry said he and Edens want to know what's going on with basketball operations and have consulted with general manager John Hammond and assistant general manager David Morway.
"I definitely want to know what's going on," Lasry said. "But at the end of the day, it's not my day-to-day job.
"You definitely want to be involved in making the final decisions. But my view is our basketball people recommend to us and Wes and I say yes or no. But at the end of the day, it's not us going out there and trying to do this."
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