NBA Rumor: Minnesota Timberwolves Sale?

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Animal rights activists demanding Glen Taylor to step down as Timberwolves governor

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“To have Taylor and other extremely powerful factory farming businessmen getting these taxpayer bailouts flies in the face of the values of ordinary Americans,” Direct Action Everywhere press contact and activist Matt Johnson said. “Taylor should set a powerful example by stepping away from NBA ownership and refusing to take any subsidies related to the HPAI outbreak, and donate funds previously received to help repair some of the harm of the most destructive industry on the planet.”

Last month, Alex Rodriguez struck a deal to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now comes the tricky part. The former Yankees slugger’s $1.5 billion agreement to buy the NBA franchise — signed with his business partner, the e-commerce tycoon Marc Lore — could get a bumpy ride this week as one of team’s minority owners has sued to delay the closing of the deal. A court-ordered suspension at a hearing slated for Monday — seen by some insiders as likely — wouldn’t necessarily kill A-Rod’s bid to finally become a professional sports team owner.

Still, some insiders are scratching their heads over the terms of the purchase, which call for A-Rod and Lore taking an initial stake of just 20 percent, plunking down some $300 million with an option to buy the rest of the team within 18 months. That’s well short of the initial cash trove of nearly $2 billion that A-Rod, Lore and a cadre of investors had reportedly amassed for their Mets bid. Indeed, sources close to the situation said that while A-Rod and Lore can make the initial payment, they’re still scrambling to raise the $1.5 billion they need to close the deal, and aren’t yet close to that number.

Taylor bought the Timberwolves and the Lynx in 1994 for $94 million. Since then, sources say the franchise has struggled financially and on the court, losing money most seasons and reaching the playoffs only once during the past 18 years. Some owners, meanwhile, are upset that the Timberwolves, despite commanding one of the league’s major markets, collect roughly $20 million in annual revenue-sharing payments from the more profitable teams, one source close to the NBA said.

Dane Moore: Sources: Glen Taylor has responded to Meyer Orbach’s lawsuit claiming the right to liquidate his $300M stake in ownership of the Minnesota Timberwolves Part of Taylor’s response is that “there may never be a sale” — and that Rodriguez and Lore merely have an option to purchase

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.

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.

Jon Krawczynski: What I have said from Day 1 on this: the words coming out of the mouths of any owner are not the important thing. The important thing is to look at the landscape of the league. Expansion, the desire by the NBA to be in the Twin Cities are both big factors here. As I have reported from the outset of Taylor’s agreement with Lore and Rodriguez, there has been no discussion of relocating the Wolves/Lynx. Does that guarantee anything? No. But multiple bidders have told me it would be very difficult to move the team. We’ll just have to see

But Rodriguez and Lore appear to have succeeded where others have failed. After more than a month of negotiating, they signed documents on Thursday to make the purchase official, sources told The Athletic. The pair of close friends stayed the course even after the exclusivity agreement expired on Monday and got the deal across the finish line. The main parameters initially reported, including the $1.5 billion price tag and a succession plan that has Lore and Rodriguez joining as minority partners before eventually taking over the lead roles to start the 2023-24 season remain unchanged, sources said.

Deadline passes without Timberwolves sale to Marc Lore, Alex Rodriguez

Tech entrepreneur Marc Lore and former baseball star Alex Rodriguez’s 30-day exclusive negotiating window to purchase the Minnesota Timberwolves from Glen Taylor has ended without a formal deal. Both sides are continuing to negotiate in good faith in an attempt to reach an agreement and it is possible that an extension to the window could be worked out, but one isn’t currently in place, sources told ESPN.

If they complete the transaction in the coming days, there will still be plenty of people counting Lore out. The Timberwolves are a distressed asset, albeit one that looks a little better lately as D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns have spent extended time on the court together and Anthony Edwards seems poised for stardom. Lore and Rodriguez have no experience in sports ownership, so it is anybody’s guess how this would go. “I have more drive now than I’ve ever had in my life,” Lore said on Vaynerchuk’s podcast. “The fear drives you. If you’re scared to do it, and you do it, you’re going to put in the best you’ve got.”

All parties involved in Timberwolves sale confident it will be completed

Lore declined to be interviewed for this story as he and Rodriguez are still working with Taylor to finalize an agreement as their 30-day exclusive negotiating window winds down. All parties involved remain confident that a deal is on track to be completed, sources told The Athletic, which would bring the close friends on as limited partners for the next two seasons before they took over as the general partners for the 2023-24 season.

Audacious dreams only require sustained belief. And here we find Arron Afflalo, the former guard who had a solid 11-year NBA career, during which he made very good, if not max, money — and who has quickly pivoted to a dream that may seem far-fetched on the surface: putting a group together to buy an NBA team. But the 35-year-old Afflalo has spent much of the last year doing just that, working with multiple significant financial players to try to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves. That bid fell short; though Afflalo did get multiple meetings with Wolves governor Glen Taylor, who entered into a letter of intent last month with a group led by former Walmart CEO Marc Lore and retired baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez, who plan to buy the team for $1.5 billion.

Lore and Rodriguez are in the midst of their 30-day exclusive window to finalize the purchase from Taylor, and there’s nothing to indicate the agreement will fall through before a likely approval by the NBA’s Board of Governors. If, for some reason, that purchase does fail, through, Afflalo and his group would hope to re-engage. Otherwise, he’ll continue on his unlikely path of the last 10 months, identifying and partnering with people who have the kind of financial connections a just-retired grinder of a player like him doesn’t usually possess in pursuit of the next team that comes on the market.

What was it like being in the room with Glen Taylor and making your presentation? Arron Afflalo: I’ll tell you one thing: Mr. Taylor is really sharp. For 80 years old, he’s really sharp. He’s had over 80 businesses throughout his career. And he understands people. … As a person, I learned a lot from him. I was most thankful because he continuously gave me an opportunity when I came with failed investors, or failed opportunities. He literally worked with me hand in hand for nine months. He was as accessible as I needed him to be. And so, he was a normal guy. I didn’t feel pressure that I was speaking to the owner of a team. The first time we spoke, he said, ‘look, Arron – I don’t know you. I know of you. Your fighting spirit is unbelievable. And if you need anything from me when speaking to investors, please call me.’ He was very accommodating.

Why did you make a run at the Timberwolves? Arron Afflalo: That answer’s pretty easy. If this were any other team, I don’t think I would have had the equal fighting spirit. Knowing Ryan Saunders and knowing Flip Saunders very well, along with the George Floyd situation. … And then when you combine that with the space I was in with the hotel stuff, dealing with billionaire companies and billionaire people, it just created a natural synergy for Minnesota. I just felt that I could help, and be inspirational at the same time. I want to give a lot of credit to Ryan Saunders and Flip Saunders, and all that that city has been through, and Mr. Taylor, for that matter, recognizing that.

“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.

Glen Taylor: NBA won't approve moving the Timberwolves to Seattle

Owners would also have to approve vacating a media market that is ranked 14th in the country, according to the 2020-21 Nielsen rankings. People like to view the Twin Cities as some frozen outpost in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a bigger market than the likes of Detroit, Denver and Miami. Seattle is 12th. And as poorly as things have gone with attendance and competitiveness for the Wolves, sources say that the team’s financials are not in terrible shape, another sign that NBA basketball is more than viable in this market. Now the Wolves need to give fans something to cheer about. Silver told Nichols that expansion is not a “front burner” issue, but the fact that it is being openly acknowledged is notable for the Wolves’ future. And that is where the succession plan becomes important. The plan is for Taylor to remain in control for another 2 1/2 years. By the time Lore and Rodriguez are preparing to accept a transfer of power, that burner could be heating up.

Even though the plan is for Lore and Rodriguez to begin as limited partners, sources said they will still have significant influence in the operations on the basketball and business sides of the operation. Finch said before the game against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night that he has yet to speak with Rodriguez or Lore, but did have what he deemed an encouraging conversation with Taylor on Sunday morning. “He was very assuring that the transition would be smooth and that it’s his intention to give everybody the best chance for success here,” Finch said, “and he’s excited about the opportunities that are ahead and we talked about our team and as it stands right now.”

Shams Charania: Alex Rodriguez and partner Marc Lore are nearing minority stakes with the Minnesota Timberwolves, with plan to take control of the franchise in two years under mentorship of Glen Taylor. Statement from A-Rod and Lore:

After Garnett posted on Instagram that he “just got the news that this process of trying to acquire the TWolves is over for me n my group,” Taylor said that neither he nor his representatives ever received any kind of offer from Garnett. “Kevin never contacted me at all saying that he was interested,” Taylor said in a phone call with The Athletic. “Nor was his name listed on any of the buying groups that asked for financial information to review.”

After Kevin Garnett posted on Instagram that he “just got the news that this process of trying to acquire the TWolves is over for me n my group,” Glen Taylor said that neither he nor his representatives ever received any kind of offer from Garnett. “Kevin never contacted me at all saying that he was interested,” Taylor said in a phone call with The Athletic. “Nor was his name listed on any of the buying groups that asked for financial information to review.”

Kevin Garnett out of Timberwolves sale race?

Jon Krawczynski: Appears that KG has officially come to terms with not being involved in a sale of the Wolves. Short on details here so it is unclear if it was a money issue or if other things got in the way.

Sources said Glen Taylor, billionaire owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, went to the NBA a few months ago with a pitch to sell to Arctos, a private-equity firm formed in 2019, to buy small stakes in teams. But the idea was shot down because Arctos had not been approved by the NBA, sources said. Arctos also recently filed to raise money via a blank-check company that will be used to buy stakes in basketball or baseball teams that need capital to cover losses. This is happening even though neither the NBA nor MLB has approved the controversial idea.

For most of a year, Taylor has explored a sale of the Wolves and Lynx. How’s that coming? “Well, it’s not coming is the best way to say it,” Taylor said. “I haven’t found anything that for sure says I should move ahead.” Taylor’s price tag for the Wolves and Lynx is estimated to be in the $1.5 billion range. With NBA expansion — Las Vegas and Seattle have been mentioned — current team owners could each be in for a reported $160 million expansion fee windfall. “Obviously I’m aware of that — you’ve got to pick your time,” Taylor said, adding that no definite decision for expansion has been made. “The other question: Is now a good time to sell when you don’t have fans? And it’s not a good time.”

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.
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August 11, 2022 | 7:20 pm EDT Update
Appearing on The Scoop podcast with Darren Wolfson of SKOR North and 5 Eyewitness News, Glen Taylor said new Wolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly had his eye on multiple impact trade targets, but Gobert was his “number one option.” The input of head coach Chris Finch, who expressed confidence in his ability to use Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, was also a key factor in Minnesota’s decision to pull the trigger on the blockbuster deal. “What I did when Tim and Chris talked to me about this trade is to ask (Finch) is there a system that he knows how to utilize these players,” Taylor said. “And he was very confident that he did understand how to utilize their skill sets, being two big guys. We talked about a lot, so he convinced me that this is something that is going to take us to a winning situation, and gave us the go-ahead to make the trade.”
Asked if he’d like to see D’Angelo Russell sign an extension before the season begins, Taylor said it might benefit both sides to hold off and see how the 2022/23 season goes. “(Finch) believes that with the new lineup, and with Russell in that lineup, that he’ll have a much better year just because of the way we’re going to play,” Taylor said. “He says he thinks there’s a big upside for Russell with this group of (players). That’s to his advantage and to our advantage if it works out.”
The plan remains for Taylor to hand over control of the franchise to incoming owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez in a little over a year. The Wolves’ longtime owner said he’s not having any regrets about giving up control of the team as it becomes a more legitimate contender. “No, I don’t have any second thoughts. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Taylor said. “We’ve left some options open that I’ll continue to be involved if I want to be involved, and that suits me just fine.”
August 11, 2022 | 5:46 pm EDT Update

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