A dispute in the Grizzlies‘ ownership group may prevent a planned sale of the Timberwolves, as Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN.com examine. Steve Kaplan was set to sell off his share of the Memphis franchise and purchase 30% of the Wolves, with an opportunity to become Minnesota’s controlling owner. However, Kaplan and Grizzlies owner Robert Pera have been embroiled in a months-long dispute, as Windhorst and Lowe detail, advancing earlier reports. Their disagreement was recently settled through a confidential agreement when Kaplan threatened arbitration, but the delay has imperiled Kaplan’s deal with Wolves owner Glen Taylor, Windhorst and Lowe write.
Windhorst and Lowe also cite unidentified sources who say Pera has become “distant” from the Grizzlies and has prevented minority owners in having a say in important decisions. Kaplan fears that once word spreads about these practices, it will be difficult for him to sell his 14% share of the team. Sources tell the ESPN scribes that he has been asking for $100MM, while estimating the Grizzlies’ value at about $700MM. Windhorst and Lowe also mention sources close to Taylor who claim he is reconsidering his desire to sell, given the complications in Memphis and the Wolves’ stockpile of talented young players.
There’s more from the Western Conference:
- The Wolves elected to stretch Kevin Martin‘s contract over the next three seasons when he agreed to a buyout, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. Martin’s cap hit for Minnesota will be $1,229,584 next year and $1,229,583 in each of the following two seasons.
- Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post believes Luke Walton is the favorite to take over as head coach of the Lakers if Byron Scott gets fired this summer. Bontemps cautions that L.A. isn’t certain to dismiss Scott, whose salary is guaranteed for next season, but Walton’s history with the franchise and success as an assistant with the Warriors make him a natural successor. In assessing the Lakers’ future, Bontemps said they need to establish a new identity with the retirement of Kobe Bryant and re-emerge as a force in the free agent market.
- Joakim Noah is a realistic option for the Mavericks in free agency this offseason, and although he would provide Dallas with an upgrade at the center spot, he wouldn’t give the team the personnel to compete with the top frontcourts in the league, opines Matt Mosley of the Dallas Morning News.
Chris Crouse contributed to this post.