IT'S gone from 'done deal' to no deal.
In a stunning development, the Tory Lavalle-LaMelo Ball bid for ownership of the Illawarra Hawks is in serious jeopardy with the NBL reportedly moving the goal posts on negotiations.
Lavalle and the Ball camp have made no secret of their desire to take ownership of the foundation club, with Ball's manager Jermaine Jackson labeling it a "done deal" on US television at the beginning of April.
The NBL poured cold water on that claim but the joint bid remained the front-runner given Lavalle's deep Illawarra roots and the appeal of Ball's US profile and NBA links.
It'sunderstood the parties had agreed to all major terms of a three-year license agreement, with Lavalle having laid out long-term business plan for the club that was expected to be rubber-stamped.
However, it seems the NBL have had a change of heart and is now considering other bids, casting doubt on whether the deal with Lavalle and Ball will get over the line.
Lavalle spoke briefly when contacted for comment by The Mercury:
"If that's the case then so be it," Lavalle said.
"It is what it is. If they feel our submission's not as desirable as some other bids then that's the way it is.
"It's their decision, I'll accept that, we'll move forward. I'll still wish the best for Hawks and the league."
It's an unexpected development, with Ball family patriarch LaVar telling American press a fortnight ago that his son - and potential No. 1 NBA Draft pick - was "ready, willing and able," to take ownership of the club.
"He is interested in buying the Hawks," LaVar said.
"One of the things I told my boys is ownership is a big thing. We are just waiting to see what they (NBL) say."
The NBL has said from the outset that it is considering multiple parties but Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger acknowledged the appeal of the joint bid in an interview withThe Mercury in April.
"We want to find the right ownership structure that will be there for the long term to take the club into the future and build a viable and sustainable business," Loeliger said.
"Certainly one of the appealing elements of their bid is the balance between international and local interests. Those connections into local business interests and American basketball interests can be very influential."
The breakdown of negotiations has reportedly angered the Ball camp, while Hawks fans will be incensed as they remain without an owner or coach six weeks out from free agency opening.
The NBL has re-appointed Mat Campbell as interim general manager while ownership negotiations continue, but the club is without a player signed after contracts were voided when the club was placed into administration.
It comes in a week in which the financial disaster of former owner Simon Stratford's tenure at the club was laid bare, with an administrator's report estimating the club was as much as $2.4 million in debt when placed into administration on April 2.
It included an estimate of more than $750,000 in entitlements owed to players and staff, with the NBL vowing to honour player entitlements after taking back the license from Stratford once the club was placed into administration.