Mediation In Wolves’ Ownership Dispute Scheduled For May 1

A mediation session regarding the Timberwolves‘ ownership dispute between Glen Taylor and a group led by Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez has been scheduled for May 1 in Minneapolis, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Lore and Rodriguez had agreed to a succession plan that would see them gradually buy into the Timberwolves before taking over majority control of the franchise this year. They previously purchased a 36% stake in the team and had been prepared to buy another 40% before Taylor announced last month that he was nixing the deal and retaining majority control of the Wolves.

Taylor claimed at the time that the deadline in the purchase agreement had passed without Lore and Rodriguez making their final payment, while Lore and Rodriguez insisted that they had the capital on hand and were awaiting NBA approval.

The incoming ownership group indicated that there was language in the purchase agreement that should give them a 90-day extension to secure that approval from the league, and expressed confidence that they’ll eventually gain majority control of the franchise.

Within an in-depth look at the ownership dispute, Joe Pompliano of Huddle Up says that if the mediation process doesn’t result in a resolution, the matter will be heard by a three-person arbitration committee — one member of that committee would be picked by Taylor, one would be chosen by Rodriguez and Lore, and the third would be mutually agreed upon by the two sides.

If the issue still isn’t solved at that point, it would go to court. Pompliano suggests Taylor, who would be on his “home turf” and previously served as a senator in Minnesota, would feel as if he had the advantage in that situation. However, sources close to the situation who spoke to Pompliano feel that the battle will eventually end with Lore and Rodriguez taking over majority control.

Here are a few more items of interest from Pompliano’s report:

  • The 36% stake that Lore and Rodriguez purchased so far has come entirely out of Taylor’s initial 70% share, rather than the remaining 30% controlled by about a dozen minority stakeholders. Some of those minority owners have been “looking for liquidity for years” but haven’t been able to cash out yet due to the nature of the purchase agreement, per Pompliano.
  • Because Lore’s and Rodriguez’s shares so far have come entirely out of Taylor’s portion of the team, his stake would have fallen to 34%. However, Taylor “quietly” purchased a 2.96% share from limited partner Bill Sexton to ensure that he retained control of more of the team (37%) than Lore and Rodriguez (36%). According to Pompliano, there are questions about why Taylor would do that unless he was preparing to retain majority control of the team and nix the sale agreement.
  • Pompliano hears from sources that Minnesota’s hiring of Tim Connelly as president of basketball operations and the trade for Rudy Gobert were spearheaded by Lore/Rodriguez and received resistance from Taylor, which A-Rod has suggested in recent media interviews (Twitter video link).
  • Pompliano confirms reporting from Wojnarowski that Lore and Rodriguez submitted a payroll projection for next season that came in below the projected luxury tax line. However, Pompliano hears that this is “relatively normal,” and that many team owners submit lower projections before revising them later — especially if the club has postseason success.
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