Timberwolves

What Could New Ownership Mean for the Timberwolves?

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas (USA TODAY Sports)

After years of looking for the right buyer, reports surfaced over the weekend that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is close to selling the team to Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore.

What do we know about this deal so far, and what does it mean for the Timberwolves’ future in Minnesota?

Let’s break it down.

So, Who Are These Two Guys?

Rodriguez is, of course, A-Rod, one of the best baseball players of my lifetime. He played 22 seasons: 12 for the New York Yankees, seven with the Seattle Mariners, and three with the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez smacked nearly 700 dingers and was a three-time MVP. His reputation as a player was tarnished because of steroid use, and rightfully so.

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He’s valued at around $350 million, which means he cannot purchase a team by himself.

That’s where Lore comes in. Lore is an entrepreneur and an eCommerce wizard valued at more than $1 billion. Lore made a huge chunk of his money when he sold Jet.com (an eCommerce site) to Walmart for $3.3 billion.

Clearly, Lore is the one financially driving this sale. We’ll see whether he or Rodriguez is the face of the ownership group moving forward.

This isn’t the first time Lore and Rodriguez have tried to buy a team. Last year the two were behind a pitch to purchase the New York Mets, but that deal did not go through.

What’s the Deal?

Reports indicate the deal is right around the $1.5 billion mark. Last year, Forbes valued the Timberwolves at $1.375 billion. In October 2020, the Utah Jazz sold for more than $1.6 billion. Taylor bought the team for $90 million in 1994, so not a bad ROI.

Are the Lynx Involved?

Yes. While Taylor has failed as an NBA owner, the Lynx have had tremendous success, winning four titles over the last decade. This is important because the Wolves and Lynx organizations work as one. Separate sales would have been a bit awkward for the franchise.

Will They Move the Team?

That’s THE question Timberwolves fans were asking over the weekend.

It’s worth noting that the WNBA already has teams in both Seattle and Las Vegas, and the Minnesota market has been huge supporters of the Lynx. If the Timberwolves were to move, it seems pretty unlikely that the Lynx would go with. My guess is that the team would be sold separately to someone interested in keeping them in Minnesota.

Taylor will still be the owner for the next two years, so even if Rodriguez and Lore want to move the team, it’s not going to happen anytime soon — that process won’t start until Taylor is out. I think it’s more likely that we’ll see a leadership shift on the business side as soon as Taylor is out as owner. It’s been a joke that Taylor hires and promotes people he’s familiar with. While that’s somewhat admirable, it’s also a big reason why the Timberwolves are the Timberwolves.

People have pointed to Rodriguez’s ties to the Seattle area, considering he played there for seven seasons. Seattle is also in the market for a new basketball team. That’s an easy target, but as Julian Andrews pointed out in our podcast this week, it seems equally likely the league would just expand to 32 teams, adding teams in Seattle and Las Vegas while moving the Timberwolves to the Eastern Conference.

While it’s easy to say that these two guys without any ties to Minnesota will want to move the team, it’s also worth noting that they did just try to buy the Mets a year ago. Obviously, they weren’t going to move the Mets. Maybe these are just two guys who want to own a sports team?

Taylor claims he’s made it clear to whoever buys the team that he wants to keep them in Minnesota, but this is also coming from the guy who made Andrew Wiggins look him in the eye before Wiggins signed a max contract.

Will the Timberwolves be in Minnesota 10 years from now? That’s the billion-dollar question. I’d lean towards yes, but as we’ve seen with the Seattle Supersonics in the past, things can change in a hurry.

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