Sparks Watch Day 3: The candidates for new ownership

Thearon W. Henderson

The owners of the Golden State Warriors look like the #1 candidates to become the new owners of the Sparks - but who would the other candidates be?

It took at least a week for WNBA fans to find out between the time Paula Madison stepped away from the ownership of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks and the time the news reached the public.  But good news travels fast! On the same day, we learned that Joe Lacob and the Golden State Warriors organization was interested in buying the Sparks for a possible relocation to the San Francisco-Oakland area.

Last year, Nate Parham wrote an article where he spoke to Kirk Lacob, the son of Joe Lacob who also serves as the assistant GM of the Warriors and General Manager of the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State's D-League franchise.

The president of the Santa Cruz Warriors club was Jim Weyermann, who was also the General Manager of the American Basketball League's Seattle Reign.  So what were Weyermann's duties?  According to Kirk Lacob:

Well, I don't know what I'm allowed to say and what I really should say, but to be clear [Weyermann] is a president of the Santa Cruz Warriors but his overarching title is Vice President of New Franchise Development - that's his full title.  So he might be president of this team, but for the Warriors he still has a title: he's the Vice President of New Franchise Development. His job is to help us with any new projects that happen.

And hanging on Weyermann's office wall - an autographed poster of the 1998 Seattle Reign team.

More reads on the 2013-2014 Los Angeles Sparks Offseason

A list of possible new Los Angeles Sparks owners

But let's suppose that for some reason the talks between the Lacob group and the WNBA come to nothing.  Who would be the other candidates to step in and own a WNBA team?  We'll list them from most likely to least likely.

Vivek Ranadivé: Ranadivé is the current majority owner of the NBA's Sacramento Kings.  According to this article from Ailene Voisin, Ranadivé is a "huge women's basketball fan" and the new owners have daughters who are women's basketball fans.

However, if Ranadivé stepped in to the situation in LA, it's very likely that he'd move the franchise to Sacramento and resurrect the Monarchs, an original WNBA franchise which was shut down after 2009 under the ownership of the Maloofs.

The Buss Family:  Hey, Jerry Buss owned the Los Angeles Lakers from 1997 to 2006 (Buss died in 2013).  His family now owns the Lakers.  Hey, they owned it once, maybe they could own it again?  And the team wouldn't have to relocate!

Mark Cuban: Why the hell not?  The entrepreneur owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks is a risk taker; maybe a sports franchise in the US media capital is just too big an opportunity to pass up. According to Ben York, he is supportive at some level of women's basketball, having no problem with Nancy Lieberman coaching the Maverick's D-League franchise.

The thought had crossed his mind of starting a WNBA franchise in Dallas but according to Dwain Price, Cuban changed his mind:

But I won't do something I can't do right.  I don't want to do it and not be able to apply the same amount of time or commitment as I do the Mavericks. So I've always said if someone else wanted to start a team here, they're welcomed to.

Magic Johnson: He has hung out with WNBA players before. He owns Magic Johnson Enterprises, which is worth $700 million.  He was an minority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers from 1994 to 2010, and he joined with the ownership group that bought the Dodgers in 2012.  So he's got cash, obviously.  He's also a good friend of Michael Cooper (now head coach at Atlanta) and the WNBA fans would love having Magic as an owner.

"Mr. X/Ms. X": this designation is used for some unknown person out there who is interested in having a WNBA team but has not tipped their hand to the public just yet.  Had anyone heard of Bill Cameron or David Box before the Detroit Shock's relocation?  That Tulsa group wanted a WNBA franchise, but efforts really didn't start until the middle of 2009.

It could be that some "angel owner" comes down from the sky and purchases the Sparks.  In those circumstances, the name tends to be a surprise.  ("Oprah Winfrey was a fan of the WNBA?  Who knew?")

Do you know any other candidates for the future owners of the Los Angeles Sparks?  Feel free to speculate in the comments below!

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