Marc Lasry On NBA Finals Tipping Off Tonight

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Marc Lasry On NBA Finals Tipping Off Tonight
Image source: CNBC Video Screenshot

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC exclusive interview with Avenue Capital Chairman & CEO and Milwaukee Bucks Co-Owner Marc Lasry on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” (M-F, 9AM-11AM ET) today, Tuesday, July 6. Following is a link to video on CNBC.com:

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Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry on NBA Finals tipping off tonight

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Transcript

DAVID FABER: Tonight, Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Eastern Conference Champion Milwaukee Bucks will take on the Phoenix Suns who wrapped up their Western Conference crown last week. The Milwaukee Bucks, by the way, have not been to the finals since 1974. The last time the Bucks won the NBA Championship back was, was back in ’71. I think they had a guy named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar playing for them and joining us now in a CNBC exclusive is Marc Lasry, Avenue Capital Chairman and CEO, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. Man, ‘74 and ‘71 Marc reminds me as a Knicks fan very similarly of what it's been like to be a Knicks fan but as an owner of this franchise, you must be extraordinarily happy. Tell me what you're thinking and how important it is obviously for the growth of this franchise that you’ve owned for some time in terms of reaching the finals.

MARC LASRY: Well, thank you. It's been great, it really has. It's obviously when you buy a team, you hope to get to the NBA Finals so, we're finally there. When you look at it, it's actually great for the city, for the state, for our fans, because it has been a long time. I mean, it's been almost 50 years since we've been here so, I think everybody's pretty excited. I'm extremely excited. Can't wait. Yeah, I'm gonna be leaving in a little while to get, to get to Phoenix so I'll be there for the game tonight.

FABER: Yeah, everybody healthy, by the way, on the team? Where do things stand in terms of the injury report, I feel like we're on ESPN right now Marc but.

LASRY: I think everybody is. I mean hopefully we'll find out what happens with Giannis. But, you know, it's up to the medical staff and him as to how he's gonna feel but they'll figure it out. I'm pretty sure he'll play in the series. The question is when.

MORGAN BRENNAN: Marc, it's Morgan, it’s a young team, no one on the roster has had any NBA Finals experience. I mean you can argue that the team was really built around Giannis. How are you weighing, weighing the risks of playing him as he does heal and given the possibility perhaps that if he were to come back onto the court too quickly that could have long-term implications.

LASRY: Absolutely, that's why I said it's really gonna be up to the medical staff and they'll figure it out and their focus is really on just making sure he stays healthy and that we don't do anything. But the fact that we're a young team is great when you're young, if we can remember back to when we all were, you think you can do anything. And I think that's what, that's what this team believes, you know, we were able to win in Atlanta without Giannis. Jrue and Khris ended up playing exceptionally well. So, I, I think everybody believes that we can do it. I think we can. And, you know, I’m hoping the rest of America believes in it too. Hopefully we’re America’s team.

FABER: Alright, you want to be America’s team now too.

LASRY: Why not? I’m going for it.

FABER: Going for it, why not. Hey, listen, I'll root for you.

LASRY: Thank you.

FABER: What does it mean to the overall value of the franchise to reach a finals?

LASRY: I assume it’s positive, it certainly can't be negative. So, I think it's gonna be positive. As to what it is—

FABER: You have no plans to sell I guess right? I guess it doesn't matter. If you're not going to sell, yeah.

LASRY: It's not, you know this is something we want to own for our family. It's something that you're going to, we're all going to own for a long time. So, it's always good when you think something is worth a little bit more, but it's not something we really focus on.

BRENNAN: I wonder what you think though of sports betting I mean we're seeing expansion of it. Have you seen a boost from all that increased business and are you personally pushing for the legalization of it in Wisconsin?

LASRY: I think, I think it's gonna be something that's gonna end up happening. I've pretty much stayed out of it. I think it’ll end up happening because it sort of seems that's where the consumer wants to go. I think the state will want to get some revenue. So ultimately, I think you're just going to find that it's going to be another avenue that's going to keep on growing it'll be beneficial for everyone.

FABER: Alright, let's move to the markets a bit while we’ve got you Marc. You know, obviously, you're a good fiduciary as an asset allocator so you know you're always worried about something. What is it right now perhaps that’s giving you the most concern in the markets?

LASRY: Oh the thing I worry about is sort of rates moving up and I think they will because I think that'll slow down the economy a little bit. Right now, money is exceptionally easy. So, I will tell you rates. The only thing I worry about is sort of all these different variants that are out there, how much of an impact that will have on the economy. Will governments decide that they want to be careful again and sort of, you know, shut things down. I mean you're starting to see a little bit of that in the UK. So, I think those two are the biggest factors. But I think there, there's a lot of positives that are there so I think things are going to be fine. But if I was worried about things it would be those two things right now.

FABER: Well, you know, it's funny as I look at the 10-yr, 1.355% I mean, we talk about inflation, all day long Marc and, you know, whether or not it's transitory. The bond market certainly seems to be speaking here, doesn't it?

LASRY: Yeah, it does. Look, I think at the end of the day what everybody is really going to be focused on is where rates go and if rates move up and I think the Fed’s going to ultimately have to raise rates, you know, that'll start having an impact because then money is not going to be as cheap and people will be going back into the bond market as opposed to where all the money is right now which is in the equity markets.

BRENNAN: Marc, a month ago, you came on CNBC and you said you wish you had bought a lot more bitcoin. Given what we've seen happen to the price, are you a buyer here?

LASRY: No, no I wish I had bought bitcoin when it was at 5,000. It’s not, I think, you know, when I looked at it, I bought, I bought a bunch, it's been fine. I ended up, you know, for whatever it's worth, I had sold my position when it had moved up. So now I'll wait and see but, you know, it was something that for me, it was just a personal investment but I don't really focus on it, not much, I apologize.

FABER: And finally Marc, I don't know if you have any thoughts because we haven't gotten into it this hour but it's a big story of course, Chinese regulators, what's happened to Didi. I know it's the equity markets but I'm just curious as to how often China figures sort of into your thinking on a macro level and perhaps even a micro level as well.

LASRY: No, it does. I mean we invest out there. We invest in Asia. I think what you're seeing is China's trying to regulate their industry more. They're trying to make sure that they've got more controls on it and I think ultimately, you know, that's going to be hard because if you've got China regulating their industries, they're trying to do a little bit of what we're doing here in the US with the SEC so I think that's going to put more limits on things going forward. And look and for what we do, we try to find special situations so I think it's going to help us because capital is going to be a little bit scarcer because people are going to be worried about what the Chinese government is going to do.

FABER: Alright, Marc, always appreciate it, good luck tonight.

LASRY: Thank you.

FABER: We’ll all be watching.

LASRY: And remember we’re America, remember we’re America's team now, alright? So.

FABER: Okay, if you're saying it, I believe it even though I don't know that anybody else believes it but good luck with that one.

LASRY: That’s okay, that’s all we can hope for. Have a good one. Take care.

FABER: You too, Marc.

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