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After last season when Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl publicly acknowledged he was looking to take on business partners for his NBA franchise, rumors of potential candidates immediately began to swirl around the NBA.

By last fall, there were whispers Michael Heisley, who had decided to sell the Memphis Grizzlies, had more than a passing interest in joining forces with Kohl. Some NBA officials and insiders even contended Heisley would be part of the Bucks’ ownership group sooner rather than later, perhaps even this season.

The scenario painted by some individuals was that Heisley intended on first becoming a Bucks minority owner with Kohl still in charge. Then, after approximately three years, Heisley would have the option of becoming the majority owner.

According to some people close to Heisley and Kohl, though, the latter got cold feet and balked at the idea of relinquishing his franchise, just like he did in the summer of 2003 when it appeared he was on the brink of selling the Bucks to a consortium headed by Michael Jordan.

Kohl, who purchased the Bucks in 1985 from Jim Fitzgerald for approximately $19 million, is apparently still receptive to bringing on an additional business partner. The possibility of the 76-year-old Heisley re-entering the Bucks’ picture is highly unlikely.

Heisley suffered a debilitating stroke in February and remains in a Chicago-area hospital. I’ve been told he’s been in a coma for more than a month and the prospects of a recovery are extremely bleak.

A BETTER ROSE? A Chicago Bulls official who has closely observed Derrick Rose in practice insists the gifted point guard will be even better than he was before suffering a devastating knee injury. The official said Rose’s perimeter shooting has significantly improved.

OFF LIMITS: The scuttlebutt among some NBA officials is that the Hawks were adamant about receiving a young big man if they were to have traded Josh Smith to the Bucks.

However, the Bucks supposedly told the Hawks that Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders and John Henson – all promising young bigs -- were all untouchables.

POISED FOR OTHER MOVES: While the Bucks did acquire guard J.J. Redick from Orlando – while giving up talented 20-year-old Tobias Harris – the Bucks were prepared to make some other trades if the Smith deal had gone. It’s no secret the Bucks had an interest in point guard Eric Maynor, whom Oklahoma City dealt to Portland.

BONUS SHOTS: Bucks center Larry Sanders and Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins have the dubious distinction of leading the leag¬ue in techni¬¬cal fouls with 14. Blake Griffin and Kobe Bryant are right on their heels with 13. … While the Bucks, Phoenix and Brooklyn pursued Josh Smith right up until the trading deadline, Smith told me Boston, Washington, Philadelphia and even New Orleans were in the mix. … Oklahoma City mega-star Kevin Durant is listed at 6-foot-9, although many coaches and players believe he’s closer to 7-foot. I recently asked Durant how tall he is and he responded, “I’m saying I’m 6-9.’’ I then said, “So, you’re 6-9?’’ To which he replied, “I’m saying I’m 6-9.’’ … I was recently reminded again by a veteran scout how close the Miami Heat were to taking T.J. Ford instead of Dwyane Wade in the 2003 NBA draft. … Speaking of Wade, he’s shooting a feeble 25 percent from 3-point range this season. That’s his lowest percentage since his third pro season when he shot a miserable 17 percent. … Impending unrestricted free agent Kyle Korver will undoubtedly have several courters this summer there are whispers he could return to Chicago but the Hawks’ sharpshooter to me, “I’m definitely hoping to stay here (with Atlanta). It’s been a great experience. And we have an awesome coach (Larry Drew) to play for.’’ … A year ago at this time, Toronto swingman Terrence Ross, then playing for the University of Washington, was considered a late first-round pick. He wound up being a lottery selection, taken eighth overall by Toronto. Some NBA scouts contend Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 6-5 shooting guard from Georgia , could similarly see his stock skyrocket before the June draft and be a fringe-lottery pick.

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