Orbach’s group would likely be committed to Minneapolis given his investment around Target Center and his brief history of coming to games here. Former Timberwolf Kevin Garnett has publicly stated that he wants to buy the team and keep it right where it is and The Associated Press reported that a group fronted by former NBA player Arron Afflalo would keep the team in Minnesota as well. There are at least five other legitimate bidders, sources said, which plays into Taylor’s hands. No matter the current state of an NBA franchise, there are only 30 of them in the world. The scarcity, and the status that comes from owning one, is intoxicating. If a group wants to get the upper hand on its competitors, agreeing to stronger legal frameworks to keep the team in Minnesota could be a way to do that.
The question becomes, what can Taylor do to make sure that happens? He has always been big on handshake agreements and the strength of a person’s word. But in a deal that league observers expect to soar past $1 billion and will chart the course for the franchise for years to come, the stakes are too big. The Wolves will likely look to include steep financial penalties for moving the team in any purchase agreement, sources told The Athletic. Exactly what that would look like, or how it would be enforced, will be determined through negotiation. As the process picks up — league sources say the Timberwolves have been inundated with interest since things became public last week — there are many factors to consider when examining the franchise’s long-term health in the Twin Cities. The tales of two other cities are worth examining as well.
As difficult as things have been with the Timberwolves of late, including just one playoff appearance since 2004 and home attendance that has plummeted near the bottom of the league, one league executive didn’t see the situation in a top 15 media market to be as dire as the one the Bucks faced. “For Milwaukee, the perfect storm to move was hitting,” the source said. “That storm is not hitting Minnesota right now. You’ve got 15 years on that lease. Minnesota’s a big market. I don’t see that same worry that people in Minnesota should have that people in Milwaukee had.”
The Athletic reached out to a handful of sources at the ownership level to gauge the appetite for addressing the Seattle market, and the return was split. While most viewed the market as teeming with possibility and deserving of an NBA team, the path to getting there was not as unanimous. Several sources said a preference would be to put an expansion team in Seattle, which would presumably bring a much larger startup fee than a team would be charged to relocate. But others have insisted that expansion has not really come up in league discussions, pointing to commissioner Adam Silver’s tepid public responses and a preference to table the issue until the next television rights deal is negotiated in 2025.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has said if he is going to sell the franchise, the new owners must commit to keeping the team in Minnesota. Taylor has some help in trying to hold any potential new owner to that promise: the agreement he made in 2016 with the City of Minneapolis for the continued use of Target Center, and the financial penalty that comes with breaking that agreement.
In 2016, Taylor Corporation and the city of Minneapolis signed a second amendment to the original agreement they made when Taylor took the team over in 1995. That amendment, signed in light of renovations both parties contributed toward for Target Center, said the Wolves would agree to play there through the 2034-35 season.
Section 3 of that agreement, obtained by the Star Tribune, says Taylor Corporation agrees to pay $50 million to the city if it does not fulfill that obligation to play its home games at Target Center before the end of the 2034-35 NBA or WNBA seasons. For reference, Taylor is reportedly asking for around $1.2 billion in the sale. A $50 million penalty equates to about 4.2% of that price.
The Straus Group, the family office of Daniel E. Straus, is exploring a purchase of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves from billionaire owner Glen A. Taylor, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The firm is one of multiple suitors for the basketball franchise, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. It couldn’t immediately be learned if the group was working alone or as part of a consortium.
Darren Wolfson: New public name in the mix to buy the #Timberwolves and #LosLynx, per Bloomberg: Daniel E. Straus. Once had double-digit percentage ownership of the #Grizzlies, and tried to become controlling owner of Memphis in 2018. Many other names/groups interested not public knowledge yet.
The Star Tribune spoke to a number of lawyers and the consensus was that doing so doesn’t seem as simple as baking it into a contract and tying the new owners to Minneapolis permanently. A deal likely would have to have parameters about how long such an agreement, or covenant, would last, and any financial penalty for breaking that covenant couldn’t be overly severe. The league has not responded to Star Tribune requests for comment regarding the sale of the Wolves. “You could have some contingencies … and I’m sure there could be a provision that relates to keeping the team in place,” said Eldon Ham, an author and professor of sports law at Chicago-Kent College of Law. “But I don’t think it would be able to extend forever.”
At the crux of any guarantee to keep the Wolves in Minnesota would be how long that guarantee would last or how harsh the financial penalty would be for breaking it. Ham said any kind of agreement that makes outlandish demands, like a 30-year promise to keep the team in Minnesota, might not make it past league approval, which requires a $1 million fee just to apply, he said. “The league itself has to approve all this,” Ham said. “So if you have a ridiculous contract, they’re just going to tell you: ‘We’re not approving this stuff.’ “If there’s something in there that says the applicant shall not apply to remove the team from the city or the state or whatever for a year or something like that, you might try to get that to fly. I don’t see anything in the bylaws that says you couldn’t have that in the contract, but the NBA itself might say, ‘We don’t like it.’ ”
An ownership group led by longtime NBA player Arron Afflalo is putting together an offer to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves, two people with knowledge of the bid said. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because the deal was still in the process of being submitted. The group will consist of two to five individuals with a net worth of more than $10 billion. According to the people, Afflalo's group will submit the bid no later than this weekend.
The people familiar with Afflalo's group said the team won't be relocated. The 34-year-old Afflalo would be the face of the group, with venture capitalist Brock Berglund spearheading the financing. The only Black primary owner in the NBA now is Michael Jordan in Charlotte. It's a diverse group seeking to place minorities in positions of power and uplift the community in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the handcuffed Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for nearly 8 minutes.
Jon Krawczynski: Sources tell @TheAthleticMIN that the Raine Group approached the Vikings to inquire about interest purchasing the Wolves a few months ago. There were initial discussions, but there are no active talks with the Wilfs/Vikings about the Wolves at this time
Jon Krawczynsky: Sources also tell @TheAthleticMIN that the Vikings ownership group very much wants the Wolves to stay in Minnesota. But the Vikings are not currently engaged on buying the team.
The Wilf family that owns the Minnesota Vikings has emerged as a serious candidate to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves, NFL sources told ESPN. Only recently did the Wilfs emerge as one of the groups bidding to buy the NBA team in their city from billionaire Glen Taylor, sources said. There are several bidders for the team, including metropolitan New York real estate developer Meyer Orbach, who bought a minority stake in the Timberwolves in 2016. Former Timberwolves standout Kevin Garnett also said he is forming a group to try to purchase the team.
But the Wilfs appear to be in a prime spot at this time to buy the Timberwolves, though a decision on the sale might not be made until September, sources said. Taylor has owned the team since 1994, when he bought it for about $88 million. He has retained The Raine Group to sell the franchise. He is seeking at least $1.2 billion for the team that has been valued at close to $1.4 billion.
Christopher Hine: Just got off the phone with Glen Taylor. Taylor mentioned one interested family from out of state is further along in the process of buying the team than others. Said he wasn't sure which group Kevin Garnett was attached to.
Darren Wolfson: I talked to Glen for 15ish minutes earlier this hour. We'll have a sound byte on @KSTP at 6:55. He did mention some groups talking to him about remaining on, thus he can help protect his guys in the organization. Will post full chat when editing computer frees up. #Timberwolves
Kevin Garnett: My passion for the Minnesota Timberwolves to be a championship team is well known but I have a deeper affection for the city of Minneapolis. I once again want to see Minneapolis as the diverse and loving community that I know it is. No two people love the city more than myself and Glen Taylor and I look forward to trying to work with him to achieve my dream.
Shams Charania: For Garnett, this bid is personal because of his stature within the franchise. Garnett wants to purchase the team and keep it in Minnesota, sources said. Glen Taylor told @JonKrawczynski that keeping the franchise in Minny is a requirement.
Shams Charania: Kevin Garnett and his group are preparing a bid to submit to Glen Taylor to purchase the Timberwolves, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
Jon Krawczynski: Glen Taylor says he thinks the Timberwolves and Lynx will remain under one house should a sale happen. "The way I run it, it's all one thing. I would assume we would want to keep it that way and make it more efficient."
Shams Charania: NBA/Timberwolves legend Kevin Garnett and a group of investors are seriously interested in and exploring bid for Minnesota T’Wolves from Glen Taylor, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Christopher Hine: As @John Meyer pointed out, Kevin Garnett posted to his Instagram story that he’s involved with a group trying to buy the team
Jon Krawczynski: Glen Taylor to @TheAthleticMIN on potential Wolves sale: "People have inquired who are interested but they want to move the team. They are not a candidate. We’ve made that very clear."
The Minnesota Timberwolves are for sale. Billionaire owner Glen Taylor has retained The Raine Group to sell the franchise he’s owned since 1995, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter. There are several parties who have bid on the team, two of the people said. A deal could be completed within a month, one of the people said.
Taylor, who bought the team for about $88 million, didn’t want a public auction and instead opted to ask Raine to find a buyer without the usual fanfare that accompanies a franchise sale, said the people, who were granted anonymity because the matter is private. The sale isn’t related to financial hardship created by the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the people said.
August 4, 2021 | 7:30 pm EDT Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: Restricted free agent guard Saben Lee is returning to the Detroit Pistons on a three-year deal, source tells ESPN.
The state Department of Health Services reported that 491 people with confirmed or probable cases said they had attended the Deer District or Bucks game “during their exposure or infectious periods” but the department could not say definitively that they caught the virus while viewing the game downtown or elsewhere. The department also said the figure was likely an undercount. “We anticipated an increase in positive cases due to the delta variant but 155% increase in one week is distressing,”Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said.
August 4, 2021 | 7:25 pm EDT Update
Sources tell cleveland.com, along with their well-documented hunt for a shooting wing, including recent discussions about a sign-and-trade for restricted free agent swingman Josh Hart, the Cavs are currently exploring the free agent point guard market in hopes of adding a third guard to play behind starter Darius Garland and backup Rubio. The Cavs have looked into the possibility of Raul Neto and Brad Wanamaker, sources say.
Fred Katz: One thing worth noting: The Wizards are far too close to the luxury tax after making the Dinwiddie trade to use the midlevel exception now. They can try another trade to get under it. They still have roster imbalace they may want to fix. But they may have to do it in other ways.
Fred Katz: The Wizards have annouced their summer league roster, which includes Corey Kispert, Caleb Homesley, Isaiah Todd, Cassius Winston and blast-from-the-past Issuf Sanon. Deni Avdija, who is recovering from a fibula fracture, is not on the roster.