A Look At The Early Candidates To Buy The Detroit Pistons

The Detroit News is reporting that there are "multiple potential buyers" of the Detroit Pistons. Here's a look at the first three made public this past week.

Over the past week, since Mike Ilitch confirmed his interest to buy the Pistons, a couple other names have surfaced as potential buyers of our beloved Detroit Pistons' and the PS&E. I'll give everybody a little run down of the known suitors, although the Detroit News is reporting that the Pistons have "multiple potential buyers." As more names emerge, we'll update accordingly. 

Mike Ilitch:

As you already know, Ilitch officially notified the Pistons of his interest on Monday morning, followed up by a goose-bump inducing statement to the MSM. The 81-year-old "pizza, pizza!" founder is also the owner of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers, who both play their home games in downtown Detroit. It is well known that Ilitch wants to get a new stadium for the Red Wings and some believe he's mostly interested in the Pistons because it'll help leverage a deal for the new Wings' stadium downtown. This, in addition to a favorable market, are probably the cherries on top for his involvement, but I do believe Ilitch genuinely cares about the state of one of Detroit's, and the NBA's, most storied franchises. 

According to Forbes, Ilitch's net worth is $1.4 billion and most of that comes from pies and crazy bread. The 11,000 Little Caesars' restaurants nation-wide bring in roughly $1.1 billion in yearly sales. Despite being among the top 300 richest Americans, Crain's Detroit Business says that buying the Pistons would take some creative financing because a purchase of the team, PS&E, and financing a new stadium could approach $1 billion. 

One of the biggest concerns with Ilitch purchasing the Pistons is that he owns two other Detroit franchises. The triple-crown of sports ownership is not unprecedented, but tenures of owning three teams simultaneously have never lasted long (H. Wayne Huizenga simultaneously owned three sports teams in South Florida for part of the 1990s and Ted Turner very briefly owned three Atlanta teams in the early 2000s).

There's no question Ilitch will do what it takes to create a winner, though. When he bought the Red Wings in 1982 (when they were called the "Dead Wings" -- sound familiar to the Pistons current status?) he slowly, but surely, built them up into one of the best teams in hockey. It took some time for Ilitch to fork over the cash for the Tigers to compete with the likes of the high-spending Yankees, but now the Tigers have one of the highest payrolls in baseball (which, as Tigers fans are painfully aware of, doesn't necessarily translate to wins). 

Ilitch is by far the most interesting candidate to buy the Pistons because of his well-known sports roots already implanted in Detroit. But is he the best option, all things considered? 

George Postolos: 

Thanks to tads, we've already been introduced to Postolos in the FanPostolos at DBB (see what I did there?). Postolos, a native of Texas and graduate of Harvard Law School, is a former special assistant to league commissioner David Stern, former president and CEO of the Houston Rockets, and is currently president and CEO of The Postolos Group, a company that helps with the acquisition of sports franchises (so that should help with his acquisition of, you know, this sports franchise).

Postolos' rich background in basketball puts him at a clear advantage in that regard to Ilitch, but he has absolutely zero ties to Detroit, as far as I know, which is somewhat scary to think about. He seems like a shrewd businessman who is more interested in simply owning an NBA franchise than concerning himself with where they play. Earlier this year, he lost a bid to buy the Charlotte Bobcats

He had this to say about buying the Pistons: 

"I am bullish on the NBA, the Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment," Postolos told The Detroit News in an e-mail. "I have nothing more to say for now."

He's clearly smart and has a successful background in the NBA, but is this the bandwagon-ass cat we want owning our franchise? 

Tom Gores: 

Gores is the third potential buyer made public this week, according to the Detroit News. He's a 46-year-old native of Israel, but his family came to America looking for a better life and found it in Genesee, Michigan. Gores started working when he was 10-years-old and went on to earn a scholarship to Michigan State, where he graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree. 

In 1995, Gores founded Platinum Equity, which now ranks in the top 30 amongst all of America's largest private companies and number one in Los Angeles, where the company is based. In addition to Platinum Equity, Gores manages more than 20 other companies with combined sales exceeding $8 million. According to Forbes, Gores has a net worth of $2.2 billion. 

Gores has zero ties to the NBA, as far as I know, except for the fact he was seen sitting near Doc Rivers during Game 7 of last year's NBA Finals (which probably hurts his stock amongst the Pistons fans). He does coach youth basketball, so he must have a firm grasp of the game itself. 

When asked about his interest in the Pistons, his spokesperson responded with this: 

"We don't discuss whether or not we're considering potential transactions and we don't comment on market rumors, even when they're incorrect."

My initial reaction is to guess Gores is the least likeliest of the three, but he's also probably the most capable of giving Mrs. Davidson the closest to the Pistons market value of roughly $479 million. The Pistons will probably sell for well below that value as it is. There's a strong chance the highest bidder will woo Mrs. Davidson over the buyer with a better projection for success -- even if a bid from Ilitch is only slightly less. And Ilitch's alleged desire to move the Pistons downtown with the Wings plays a very underrated role in the process, as many believe the loss of the Pistons would turn the city of Auburn Hills into a ghost town

Obviously, this will be a long process with many variables at play, but we'll try to keep you posted on the info as news materializes.

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