Timberwolves

There's One Upside To Glen Taylor Retaining Ownership

Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Glen Taylor had one final question after spending $88 million to purchase the Minnesota Timberwolves and keep them from relocating. “Does somebody have the phone number for the NBA?” he asked Marv Wolfenson, one-half of the Harv and Marv duo who originally owned the Wolves.

After shaking hands with Wolfenson, he returned to his hotel room and called a general number for the NBA, and a receptionist picked up. “I said, ‘I just bought the Minnesota Timberwolves, and I would like to speak to somebody about that,’” Taylor told Jon Krawczynski in his excellent August 2020 profile on Taylor’s purchase of the Wolves. “She laughed just like you just did. Like, what are you talking about?”

Taylor’s ownership is rife with mishaps. He hired David Kahn and made Tom Thibodeau the coach and GM. The Wolves drafted Jonny Flynn over Stephen Curry and Shabazz Muhammad one spot ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Until recently, the Timberwolves only won with Kevin Garnett on the roster, and KG has a contentious relationship with Taylor.

In 2015, Flip Saunders traded for Garnett, setting in motion a succession plan in which Saunders and KG would lead an investment group that would eventually own the Timberwolves. That was likely the best option for everyone involved. Taylor should feel comfortable that the Wolves were in good hands with Saunders. Garnett is the franchise’s most famous player, and fans would feel confident that the team would stay in Minnesota.

However, that plan fell apart when Saunders passed away before the 2015-16 season. Sam Mitchell took over as interim coach, but Taylor fired Mitchell at the end of the season and hired Thibodeau as coach and president. Saunders was the bridge between Garnett and Taylor, and Taylor sought a separate ownership plan after Saunders passed.

Three years ago, Taylor felt that he found the right group to succeed him.

In April 2021, Alex Rodriguez and New Jersey billionaire Marc Lore unexpectedly entered an exclusive letter of intent to purchase the Wolves. “Just in the last week or so did I make contact with these guys,” Taylor said. “They had indicated they had some interest in being involved in the ownership. I had not known them personally, so contacted them, talked to them on the phone, did all that, really liked how it went.”

Taylor reassured Timberwolves fans that they would keep the team in Minnesota. “They will keep the team here, yes. We will put it in the agreement,” Taylor said. “At this point, we have a letter of intent, but when we make up the contract, we’ll put that in there. That’s no problem. That won’t be a problem.”

Rodriguez and Lore have been present courtside at games and have reiterated multiple times that they aren’t going to relocate the team. “We have no plans to move this,” Rodriguez said in September 2021. “Our plan is to be right here.” However, they plan on building a new arena at some point, and owners typically leverage relocation to get tax money to pay for construction costs.

Rodriguez and Lore may ultimately keep the team in town if they take ownership of it. They’ve seen Wolves fans pack the Target Center every night and must know the value of being in a market with 15 Fortune 500 companies. But Taylor has retained ownership for now. Taylor says Rodriguez and Lore have missed payments; Rodriguez and Lore claim Taylor has seller’s remorse because the franchise may have doubled in value since they started making payments on it.

In 1995, boxing promoter Bob Arum headed a group willing to pay $151.5 million to move the team to New Orleans. However, former NBA commissioner David Stern was leery of the group’s financing and preferred to keep the team in Minnesota. Thirty years later, Taylor says Rodriguez and Lore missed a payment payment deadline, and some fans are concerned that they may move the team.

Rodriguez and Lore have undoubtedly added value to the Timberwolves since they began purchasing part of the team, but it’s hard to know how much. We also cannot overlook Minnesota’s mishaps under Taylor’s ownership. Eventually, he must pass the team on to a reliable ownership group. But we know Taylor will keep the Wolves in the Twin Cities if he retains team ownership, and at this moment, that means Anthony Edwards and the league’s No. 1 defense are here to stay.

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