Any agreement to sell the Timberwolves will include a provision that the team must be kept in Minnesota, owner Glen Taylor tells Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.
News broke Saturday night that Taylor was in the late stages of a deal to sell the team to former MLB star Alex Rodriguez and billionaire investor Marc Lore. The Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA would also be included, according to Hine.
“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.”
Hine checked with legal experts last summer who said it might be difficult to enforce contract provisions that the team can’t be moved. The franchise has a lease for use of the Target Center with the city of Minneapolis that runs through 2035 and includes a $50MM penalty for leaving early.
However, the potential new owners haven’t indicated that they plan to take the Wolves anywhere else. Taylor said they bonded quickly during a meeting this week at his home in Naples, Florida, and signed a letter of intent Saturday afternoon that gives Rodriguez and Lore exclusive negotiating rights for 30 days.
“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 said they agreed on “everything” once negotiations began, including his vision of mentoring a new ownership group for two seasons before the transfer becomes complete. Under the reported agreement, Rodriguez and Lore will become partial owners before taking over completely in 2023.
“When I met them and talked to them and just in the conversation what they were after — they’re bright people, very bright people, very competitive,” Taylor said. “I could see them challenging me which I liked to have. … They said, ‘We got to learn about basketball. We’d like you to stay around and help us run it for a while.’ Then we’ll switch over. Those meet all of my goals.”
Rodriguez and Lore will be in Minneapolis on Monday to meet with Timberwolves and Lynx employees, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Taylor told Wolfson he met with four other groups that were interested in buying the team, but Rodriguez and Lore made the best impression.
Taylor has put the team on the market before without finding a buyer, leading to questions about how serious he was in his desire to sell. A group led by Arron Afflalo was interested, and Kevin Garnett was reportedly preparing a bid for the team last summer. However, Taylor said he never heard from Garnett or any group that was affiliated with him.
Taylor has owned the team since 1994, when he bought it to prevent a move to New Orleans. As he nears his 80th birthday, he wants to be sure the franchise will be in good hands.
“It gives me peace of mind,” Taylor said. “At my age, going ahead, if something happens to me, I know what’s going to happen to the Timberwolves. It’s all kind of set. I don’t have to worry about that. I don’t have to have my family worry about it. In the next couple years, if everything goes as I hope, I still can participate. So it gives me the best of both worlds.”