NBA rumors: Marc Lore, Alex Rodriguez not legally bound to keep Timberwolves in Minnesota

With Glen Taylor entering into an agreement to sell the teams, eventually, to Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, limited partner Meyer Orbach has filed a lawsuit alleging that Taylor is in breach of contract because Orbach has not been provided the opportunity to sell his 17 percent stake in the team before the deal with Rodriguez and Lore is completed. The lawsuit itself does not appear to threaten Taylor’s ability to do his deal with Lore and Rodriguez. But filing it also allowed Orbach to make public terms of the agreement with Rodriguez and Lore, namely that there is no language in the contract that prevents the Timberwolves and Lynx from being moved to another market.

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The lawsuit states that Taylor ignored Orbit’s attempt to exercise those rights, while also stating that he has not entered into a “control sale” with Rodriguez and Lore. This is where the unique arrangement that has been brokered comes into play. Lore and Rodriguez, subject to league approval this summer, are coming in to start with roughly $250 million, sources told The Athletic. They will not be majority partners right from the start. The plan is for the pair to purchase shares gradually and work toward a controlling interest in the team by December 2023.
The letter of intent signed by Rodriguez and Lore prior to the beginning of negotiations with Taylor did include a commitment to remain in Minnesota, sources said. But that document is not legally binding, and that language did not transfer to the official agreement, according to Orbach’s lawsuit. That said, sources on all sides of these negotiations have told The Athletic that Lore and Rodriguez are committed to the Twin Cities market and that there have never been any discussions about moving the teams.
There could always be another market beyond Seattle or Las Vegas, if the league does indeed expand to those two cities. But the league would have to approve such a move. Sources with the NBA and in ownership circles continue to tell The Athletic that the league values the Twin Cities market. It has also been reported that any new owner would only have to pay $50 million to break the Target Center lease, which runs through 2035, a relative pittance when compared to the team’s $1.5 billion valuation.
Another source with direct knowledge of the Timberwolves, the league dynamics and the Target Center lease said that several other stipulations would have to be met on top of the $50 million fee to trigger an exit, making it more difficult to break that lease than initially perceived. “Between the lease, the unknown relocation fee (the Board of Governors) would ask for, the general political backlash and the size of the market, the team will stay put,” the source said.
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September 27, 2021 | 11:32 am EDT Update