“The real agreement is with the NBA. The NBA will make the decision if somebody’s going to move or not move,” Taylor said. “The NBA will not approve of the Timberwolves moving from here to Seattle. It’s in the NBA’s interest that in Seattle, that a new team is formed. It’s an economic decision that’s in the interest of all of the owners.” Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, said the money new owners could earn for the league with an expansion fee could be upwards of $2 billion. He also said the new owners “are not going to pay” $1.5 billion to buy the Wolves then another $2 billion or so to move the team.
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Two NBA seasons have been hammered by COVID-19, leaving owners and league officials to examine expansion as an option to make up for the revenue shortfall. And that has left them watching a drawn-out sales process of the Minnesota Timberwolves as an indicator for franchise value health. After putting the Wolves on the market in both 2012 and 2015 only to back out each time, longtime owner Glen Taylor announced again in July 2020 that he was selling the team. It has not been a brisk process as firm offers have been tepid, sources said.
Valuations put the Wolves in the $1.3-1.5 billion range including debt, sources said, less than Taylor was hoping to fetch. Taylor has been close to a deal with a group led by Daniel Straus but unable to close. Straus remains the favorite but he revised his offer after it was clear fans would not be back in the arena in large numbers this season. Other firm offers have been tepid. “I think Glen was hoping team values were still going up,” one owner said. “I think we’re finding out they may not be right now.”
Officials within the league office have floated a price tag of $2.5 billion each for two expansion teams to join the NBA in the near future, sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Unlike other major revenue streams, owners would not have to share that money with players and could result in $160 million per team, which would effectively eliminate the debt currently piling up. There could be multiple offers from cities like Seattle or Las Vegas.
Taylor declined to comment on the status of specific bids but did say coronavirus was slowing down the process. “It’s because of all the unknowns that are happening in basketball or any sports right now,” Taylor said. “It has slowed it down, and people who would be interested in making acquisitions are probably more cautious right now. We’re probably more cautious. … I think it’s time for them to be a little more cautious until they know how this year is going to be set up.”
By that, Taylor means potential buyers want to see how a lack of fans in Target Center and other arenas for at least the start of the season is going to affect the bottom line across the league, considering a significant portion of league revenue comes from ticket sales. Taylor said he hopes Target Center might have some sort of crowd in the second half of the season, but that decision is in the hands of lawmakers, not him, he said. “Hopefully the vaccine will come out and it’ll just be cut down and we’ll have the opportunity in the second half of the year that we can try bringing in some people,” Taylor said.
Darren Wolfson: On the ownership front, I hear it’s inching closer to finality to some sort of at least verbal agreement, or signed agreement… that it’s down to two groups. I would not be shocked if we have news before the first of the year. So it still could be another four or five, six weeks. But I would not be shocked if something happens before January 1. To me, the question is how much ownership will Glen Taylor retain?
Brian Windhorst on potential Wolves sale: So we have a team that doesn’t have a strong fan base, we have a team that doesn’t have an upgradable arena, it’s not like was in Milwaukee where those owners would come in and say, well, we can we can upgrade this arena get some public money, that’s already happened, that arena upgrade is already happened. You’re not going to improve the arena. And then three, you’re looking at losses for the short term, probably heavy losses. And so you’re just not going to get a premium buyer, what you’re going to get is groups who are going to come in looking to buy an NBA team on the cheap. And that may not be what it ends up, when it when it ultimately ends up selling. It may be a premium buyer, but the some of the groups that have come in have come in looking to get a bargain because they realize that it’s an asset that doesn’t quite compare to other assets.
Garnett recently made public his interest in buying the Wolves from longtime owner Glen Taylor. In July, Garnett posted on social media that he and a group he was affiliated with would like to buy the team after news leaked that Taylor was courting offers for the franchise. But on Thursday, Garnett had no comment about where that stands. “It’s good to be back in Minnesota,” Garnett said when asked about the potential sale. “Y’all know I can’t speak on certain things, but thank you guys for coming.”
Word within basketball circles is that Kevin Garnett’s group that wants to buy the Timberwolves from Glen Taylor includes two billionaires from California and another from Florida. Garnett’s investment is said to be $200 million, and he would head the basketball operation with authority to name the GM and coach. Asking price is expected to be about $1.2 billion, which also includes the Lynx. Garnett also was part of a group that tried to bring an NBA franchise back to Seattle.
I’ve heard stories that Kevin Garnett’s last dance with the Minnesota Timberwolves, there were times where he was telling all the young guys, ‘Just wait until I own this thing, everything is gonna be different around here’. It’s a soft threat from kg on a lot of those young guys just telling them it’s going to be different, assuming that he was gonna get this ownership stake.
Now Taylor is again considering selling the team, but the feeling is much different this time. He is concerned about his other businesses that have been struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is confident that with CEO Ethan Casson, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas and coach Ryan Saunders leading the way, the Timberwolves’ basketball and business operations are on stable footing for the first time in years. And at 79 years old, the man who rescued the Wolves from extinction back in 1994 wants to make sure his fiscal house is in order so he doesn’t put any undue pressure on his family after he is gone.
Perhaps for the first time in 26 years at the helm of the franchise, Glen Taylor appears to be comfortable with the idea of letting go of something he has loved for so long. “I think I put a really good team together with the Timberwolves,” Taylor told The Athletic on Tuesday, referring to the leadership group he has in place. “I feel really good about that. There’s a good team there. Both the player bunch and the business bunch. So I think I’ve done my responsibility there to have that so it can go on and become better.”
And while his motivation for selling the team appears to be as genuine as ever, one thing is unchanged: Taylor wants to make sure that whoever buys the team will keep it in Minnesota. “Everybody’s been told it has to stay in Minnesota,” Taylor said. Several groups have emerged as interested suitors, including franchise legend Kevin Garnett, who leaped out publicly on Tuesday to state his long-held desire to be a part of the Wolves ownership and keep the team in Minneapolis.
“People have inquired who are interested, and very interested and have the money, but they want to move a team,” Taylor said. “They are not a candidate. We’ve made that very clear. In those terms, nothing has changed. We got a good team here. We think we have a good future and we want to do anything we can to keep it that way.”
The Wilf family, which owns the Vikings, was approached several months ago by a search firm looking for interested buyers, sources told The Athletic. Zygi and Mark Wilf have seen their initial $600 million investment explode with the construction of U.S. Bank Stadium, and a new television deal looming around the corner. The Wilfs are popular in the Twin Cities for their willingness to spend on the roster and a low-key public presence.
The Wilfs had initial discussions with the search firm, but have yet to engage with the Timberwolves directly and there are no active talks, sources said. The Wilfs have a deep respect for the Twin Cities sports scene and want to see the Wolves remain in Minnesota, sources said, but they have not gone down that path on their own yet. Things could always change, but for the moment, the Wilfs are on the sideline. Their involvement, presumably, would also satisfy Taylor’s desires to keep the team in Minnesota.
Meyer Orbach, a Wolves minority owner who has steadily amassed more and more shares of the team and is a highly visible member of the ownership group at home and on the road, is another name to watch on the list of potential new owners. Several other groups are said to be involved, though Taylor has declined to name them or speak on an expected asking price. Sources have told The Athletic that Taylor is seeking north of $1 billion. A bidding war could push the price much higher.
If Taylor were willing to allow the team to be moved as part of a sale, it could get significantly more — perhaps north of $1.5 billion, several brokers who handle team sales told ESPN. With Taylor unwilling to agree to such terms, the price could be closer to the Grizzlies’ number.
Whatever the truth is, Garnett dug in. Garnett still remembered Taylor accusing him of “tanking it” at the end of the 2006-07 season, when he sat out the final five games of a lost season. So in his eyes, Taylor had crossed him twice. And the player’s mindset never let go. Hold on to those grudges. It was keeping with his mentality as a player. Hold on to those grudges and use them as fuel when the next battle comes around the corner.
Garnett has been working feverishly to put together a group of investors to help him buy the team, sources told The Athletic. He has long preferred to get into the ownership side rather than coaching, saying he doesn’t have the patience required for that job. In his last days with the Wolves, Garnett would tell anyone who would listen about his desires to help run a franchise and make the big decisions that can influence a team’s trajectory. Exactly what role Garnett would play in any potential ownership group is not immediately known.
Does he have any interest in selling the team? “No. You know Meyer, my friend from New Jersey, has bought in a little bit, and if I sell any, it will be a little more to him. “I like [owning the team]. You know, we have a tough going to get into the playoffs, but we are going to try for it and do our best. I know no matter what, we’ll be better next year because we were off to such a terrible start this year because of the Jimmy Butler thing we had. Hopefully next year our guys won’t be as injured as they have been this year. We have had a lot of injuries.”
As far as I have been able to gather, Glen has no immediate plans to sell. Five years from now? That’s a little hard to project. He has told me that there have been offers and he could sell tomorrow if he wanted to do it. But he doesn’t want to. He wants to be here when everything is rolling. That’s his goal.
Garnett said he’s enjoying doing Area 21, but doesn’t know what his future holds. He’s pursuing various business ventures and said he’d love to go into ownership or management at some point, including with the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he spent the majority of his Hall Of Fame career, with one caveat: He wouldn’t want to do it with the current ownership group. “I don’t want to be partners with Glen [Taylor], and I wouldn’t want to be partners with Glen in Minnesota,” he said. “I would love to be part of a group that buys him out and kind of removes him and go forward.”
The Athletic sat down with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor for a wide-ranging interview. Here is the story from Part I of the conversation. Part II will run on Monday and focus on Taylor reflecting on his long run as NBA Chairman of the Board, which ended this fall. In a league where the franchise values are skyrocketing to almost unfathomable levels, Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor says he is in no hurry to cash in.
Last week Taylor closed a deal to bring in Lizhang Jiang, a Shanghai-based businessman. Jiang, who founded Chinese marketing company Double-Edge Sports, previously worked with the NBA in China. Earlier this month, Jiang, 35, completed the purchase of Spanish soccer club Granada CF. Lanxiong Sports of China reported that Jiang purchased 5 percent of the Wolves and 5 percent of the Minnesota Lynx.
In addition, Taylor has sold a share of the team to Meyer Orbach, a New York-based real estate magnate.
Jon Krawczynski: Glen Taylor’s selling of minority shares: Meyer Orbach at about 9.5 percent; The Chinese portion was around 5 percent. So they were small portions, but bring significant cash infusion that solidifies Taylor long-term.
At least twice in the past five years, Taylor has put the Wolves on the market only to later back off and decide to keep the team. This minority-share investment adds stability to Taylor’s position. League sources indicate the team is worth about $1 billion.
Wolves owner Glen Taylor has been actively seeking to sell 30 percent of the franchise to a group led by private equity investor Steve Kaplan and just hired Tom Thibodeau as the Wolves’ new coach and president of basketball operations in a five-year deal valued at an estimated $40 million.
Sources told ESPN.com this week that talks between Taylor and Kaplan are ongoing. If Kaplan ultimately secures a 30-percent stake in the franchise, it would be with the understanding that he would eventually succeed Taylor as the Wolves’ controlling owner, with the timing of that change up to Taylor.
Taylor has put the Wolves up for sale in the past only to change his mind. With the Grizzlies’ drama and the Wolves’ collection of young talent, Taylor has slowed the sale process and is now reconsidering whether he wants to sell at all, two sources close to the owner say.
Grizzlies minority owner and co-executive chairman Steve Kaplan, a California venture capitalist, had planned to sell his Grizzlies stake to buy 30 percent of the Wolves with a path to eventually take over as controlling owner. However, sources tell ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe, a dispute between Kaplan and Grizzlies owner Robert Pera over shares in the team led to a behind-the-scenes battle that took months to resolve.
Meanwhile, sources say Pera has been distant from Memphis over the last year, and has excluded minority owners from any meaningful participation in team decision-making, which is his right as controlling owner. Kaplan is worried that the market for his minority interest will dry up once potential buyers complete their due diligence on Pera’s ownership techniques, sources said.
Memphis Grizzlies minority owner Steve Kaplan’s pursuit of a new role in the ownership group of the Minnesota Timberwolves has hit a wall, two people with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Thursday. Kaplan and partner Handy Soetedjo met with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor before the game against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night to talk about the status of a process that began about four months ago. The two have been spearheading a group trying to acquire 30 percent of the Timberwolves, with the possibility of taking over majority ownership from Taylor down the road. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the talks.
Taylor said the process to sell 30 percent of the team to Los Angeles private equity investor Steve Kaplan’s group is at a “standstill” while Kaplan pursues selling his minority portion of the Memphis Grizzlies. NBA rules prohibit a person from owning parts of two teams. “We can’t do anything until he works a deal in Memphis,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he has no set no deadline to complete the sale and said the process likely will take months and “not weeks.”
The sale of at least 30 percent of the Timberwolves by owner Glen Taylor to a handful of Los Angeles investors, including Memphis Grizzlies limited partner Steve Kaplan, should be complete by the end of February. The Wolves, though, will be required to remain in Minnesota.
Darren Wolfson: Signs still point to Steve Kaplan buying 30% of #Twolves and then having 1st right of refusal when Glen wants out. Levien a Kaplan investor.
Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is engaged in serious talks to sell an approximate 20 percent stake in the franchise to a group led by Memphis Grizzlies minority partner Steve Kaplan, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
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May 8, 2021 | 8:54 pm EDT Update
Fred Katz: There it is. Russell Westbrook has officially tied Oscar Robertson’s all-time triple-double record of 181 for a career, a record that has stood for 47 years. Westbrook now has 21 triple-doubles in his last 25 games and will go for the record Monday against the Hawks.
Russell Westbrook is making history every other day at this point and Saturday night was no exception. The Wizards’ point guard earned his 7,988th assist against the Pacers, passing former Wizards point guard Rod Strickland for 12th all-time on the NBA’s career assists list.
Tim Reynolds: Triple-doubles in regular-season games since Russell Westbrook entered the league: Russell Westbrook, 181 Anyone in a Utah Jazz uniform, 0 (Ricky Rubio had a playoff triple-double for the Jazz in 2018. Their last regular-season triple-double was by Carlos Boozer on 2/13/08.)
Tom Orsborn: Pop on Carmelo: “He loves the game. He’s having a great year doing a great job. He has been wonderful throughout his career. Anything that’s good that happens for him, I’m very excited about it, because he has done a lot.”