NBA Rumor: Minnesota Timberwolves Sale?

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If Afflalo’s group emerges as winners in the process, there would be a desire to become pillars in the Twin Cities community, sources said. The group has observed from afar as CEO Ethan Casson, Rosas, Saunders and the rest of the organization has thrust itself into community engagement following the death of George Floyd, which sparked riots across the country and put law enforcement relations with people of color under the microscope. The group includes several people of color who have an interest in the franchise playing a role in the discussion, sources said.

Haslam, whom Forbes says is worth about $2.9 billion, is one of several people eyeing a purchase of the Timberwolves, the people said, adding that Straus was still in talks to acquire the team. Haslam is the chief executive officer of truck stop company Pilot Flying J, which was founded by his father in 1958. A former investor in the Pittsburgh Steelers, Haslam and his wife, Dee, acquired control of the Browns in 2012. Dee Haslam is chair of the Haslam Sports Group.

Minnesota Timberwolves potentially moving closer to sale

As Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor’s search for a successor reaches its second month, one group’s interest has stood out above the rest. An investment group led by former Memphis Grizzlies minority owner Daniel E. Straus is in advanced discussions to buy the Timberwolves and Lynx from Taylor, sources told The Athletic. The sides still have issues to resolve before any full agreement can be completed, sources said.

The Timberwolves’ availability was first reported on July 21, which is roughly the time that the Straus Group entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Taylor. Representatives from the Straus Group visited the Twin Cities two weeks ago for official meetings, toured the team facilities and reviewed financials as part of their due diligence. The sides had entered an exclusivity agreement that formally expired last week, and both parties have continued discussions about a deal, sources said. Those sources added that Straus would keep the Timberwolves in Minneapolis, as Taylor has mandated for his sale.

Glen Taylor unsure about selling the Timberwolves

In an exclusive interview with Sports Headliners, Timberwolves and Lynx owner Glen Taylor said it’s not definite he will sell the franchises. Reports earlier this summer had the 79-year-old Mankato billionaire pursuing a sale of his longtime franchises for $1.2 billon. When asked whether he anticipated a sale soon or not happening for an extended period, he said: “I don’t really know the answer to that right now. We have opened it up to see if people would be interested. At this point we’re trying to see what value would they put on it, and we haven’t finished that. We’re just getting that information together. …We have some people that said they are interested.”

In 1999 the upstart WNBA was bleeding money as it pioneered opportunities for women on the court and in other basketball positions. Taylor, a socially conscious entrepreneur, became owner of the Lynx expansion franchise and the team joined the Wolves in playing at Target Center. “It isn’t like I thought about it (a lot),” Taylor said. “It just seemed like the right thing to do (women’s pro basketball). “I am more concerned why more (NBA owners)…why they don’t do it. There is nothing wrong with taking some of the money you’ve made on the NBA…putting some of it back into the WNBA. It isn’t going to make anybody broke, or anything like that.”

For a franchise that has dealt with incredible ups and downs, this offseason has been one of a kind, and that includes the news that Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, is heavily considering selling the team. Rosas said he has no doubts Taylor will find the right buyer. “To be fair, you have to understand Glen’s tenure and the stage that he is at in his personal life and in his family life,” Rosas said. “We all know this is part of the business. Glen has been unbelievable to me, to my family and to this organization during his time of ownership. But it’s not realistic to think that he’s going to be the owner forever. He has been very great, very supportive, very transparent through this process. I was aware and I knew this was something that he was working on. I know he’s doing everything he can to make sure that this organization moves forward and that we have the right ownership and the resources to be successful moving forward.”

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.

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.

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.

Another suitor emerges to purchase the Timberwolves

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.

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.’ ”

Ownership group led by Arron Afflalo bidding to buy Wolves

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.

Wilf family interested in buying Timberwolves

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.
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December 1, 2020 | 3:47 pm EST Update