Alex Rodriguez

Timberwolves Notes: Towns, New Owners, Vaccines

The strain of having multiple family members die from COVID-19 and then losing 50 pounds after he contracted the virus led Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns to experience a panic attack during a game, he tells Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated.

It happened in February in Cleveland after he was cleared to rejoin the team. Towns describes the feeling of being overwhelmed by anxiety while on the bench and texting a message to his agent that read, “I can’t be out here anymore. I can’t do this.” Towns went to the locker room where he was sweating and feeling tightness in his chest. He thought about going to the hotel or even back to Minnesota, but decided to stay in the arena until the game was over.

The heartache from losing loved ones, particularly his mother, had become too much for Towns to bear in a public setting. His father encouraged him to take time away from the game for his mental health, but Towns opted to continue playing because he didn’t want to disappoint anyone, though he was often unhappy with the results.

“I just really didn’t think I could play the game of basketball the way I want to represent myself in the NBA,” Towns said. “I didn’t want to represent myself in a bad way. There’d be a lot of times we’d play a game. Game’s over. And I’m not even in there. I’m doing my own thing. I’m in the bathroom looking at myself, wondering if this is the man that I really think I am.”

He eventually found some degree of solace through regular conversations with head coach Chris Finch, and benefited by getting away from the game during the offseason. Towns is now ready to return to basketball and hopes to establish himself as one of the league’s best centers.

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • Although Towns is frustrated by years of losing, that hasn’t shaken his commitment to the Wolves, Pina adds in the same story. A source close to Towns tells Pina that the surprising dismissal of president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas last week didn’t affect Towns’ desire for a contract extension. He can become eligible for a supermax deal by making an All-NBA team this season. “My chips are all on the table,” Towns said. “So it’s up to the Wolves, you know? If they give me the chance to stay there I fa’ sho would take it. The ball is in their court.”
  • Meeting today with the media, new co-owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore repeated their pledge to keep the team in Minnesota, according to Chris Hine and Chris Miller of The Star Tribune“We have no plans to move,” Rodriguez said. “Our plan is to be right here.”
  • New president of basketball operations Sachin Gupta said the team is fully vaccinated except for two players who are in the process of getting their shots, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Stein’s Latest: Timberwolves, Ujiri, Simmons, Lacob, Dragic

Incoming Timberwolves owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore won’t assume majority control of the the franchise from Glen Taylor until 2023, but they’re operating in some ways as if they’re already the team’s primary owners, says Marc Stein of Substack.

Shortly after Gersson Rosas was dismissed this week, Timberwolves reporter Dane Moore suggested (via Twitter) that rumors have circulated for months that Rodriguez and Lore want to bring in a “top-five” front office executive. Stein doesn’t specifically confirm that rumor, but he corroborates it, writing that word circulated at Summer League in August that A-Rod and Lore would have loved to make a run at veteran executive Masai Ujiri, who ultimately re-upped with the Raptors.

While those reports suggest that the Wolves’ new ownership group wants to make a splash, league sources tell Stein that Sachin Gupta is expected to get every chance to impress the team during his time running the basketball operations department. According to Moore (Twitter link), Gupta – whose title is executive VP of basketball operations – doesn’t technically have the “interim” tag attached to his position, an indication that he’ll receive serious consideration for the permanent job.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest NBA roundup:

  • According to Stein, teams around the NBA are skeptical that the Sixers genuinely want to bring back Ben Simmons, viewing Doc Riversmedia comments on Wednesday as an attempt to regain trade leverage rather than a legitimate effort to mend the team’s relationship with Simmons.
  • It may seem odd that Warriors owner Joe Lacob was fined for comments about Simmons that didn’t even mention him by name and made it clear that Golden State isn’t really interested in the Sixers star. However, Stein says the tampering penalty was “as automatic as these ever get,” since there was no doubt Lacob was referring to Simmons, and his comments could be viewed as an attempt to diminish the 25-year-old’s trade value.
  • It doesn’t appear that any deal involving Goran Dragic is imminent. Stein writes that the Raptors want to be as competitive as possible this season, and Dragic can help with those efforts. Toronto also believes that more appealing trade scenarios could arise once the season gets underway and more teams need a point guard due to injuries or underperformance.

Details On Timberwolves’ Dismissal Of Gersson Rosas

The Timberwolves‘ dismissal of president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas was made for “performance reasons,” a high-ranking team source told Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic. The team’s lack of success during Rosas’ tenure was a key factor in the decision, and complaints from staffers about Rosas’ leadership also played a part, per The Athletic’s duo.

However, another issue that factored into the timing of the move was the fact that the Wolves recently learned that Rosas – who is married – had a “consensual intimate relationship” with a member of the organization, according to Krawczysnki and Charania, who suggest that the relationship made several people within the franchise uncomfortable.

The Athletic’s deep dive into the situation in Minnesota’s front office uncovered sources who said Rosas worked his staffers long hours without giving them much input into personnel decisions. Some members of the front office took issue with those decisions, such as the one to include such light protections (top-three) on the first-round pick the Wolves sent Golden State in the D’Angelo Russell trade.

Rosas did have backers within the organization, including some who reached out to The Athletic in recent weeks to defend the way things were going, per Krawczynski and Charania. Some of Rosas’ defenders believe the pandemic and the change of ownership were factors that contributed to tension in the front office, while Rosas himself “vehemently disputed” that there were any significant problems with the team’s culture.

Still, many of The Athletic’s sources described Rosas’ tenure as dysfunctional, and when those complaints reached ownership, Glen Taylor, Alex Rodriguez, and Marc Lore decided the situation was untenable and a move needed to be made sooner rather than later.

“It’s hard,” said one staffer who followed Rosas to Minnesota after he was hired in 2019. “He’s not who I thought he was.”

The report from Krawczynski and Charania is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber. Here are some of the other highlights:

  • New interim head of basketball operations Sachin Gupta is well-regarded by team officials and is expected to get a chance to earn the permanent job, sources tell The Athletic. However, Krawczynski and Charania note that Gupta did “butt heads” with Rosas this summer when Gupta sought to make a lateral move to the Rockets for a similar job with higher pay, and Rosas blocked him. Rosas defended the decision by saying that the move wouldn’t have been a promotion, and it was too close to the draft and free agency to let a top executive with so much knowledge of Minnesota’s plans leave to join a rival. According to The Athletic, Rosas “banished” Gupta from the team’s offices in August and allowed him to seek employment elsewhere at that point, but Gupta decided to stay with the Wolves after ownership got involved.
  • Some player agents had issues with Rosas’ negotiating tactics, according to Krawczynski and Charania, who point to the team’s recent contract talks with Jordan McLaughlin as one example. A source tells The Athletic that Rosas reneged on promises about the role McLaughlin would have going forward after Patrick Beverley was acquired. Although agents recognized Rosas’ primary allegiance was to the organization, they expected better treatment in certain scenarios, according to The Athletic’s duo. “Rosas was the cause of mishaps and pulled his promises,” the source said of the McLaughlin negotiations.
  • Rosas’ decision to replace head coach Ryan Saunders with Chris Finch during the season without considering any other candidates – including minority candidates – wasn’t popular with some staffers, and neither was the decision to part with veteran scout Zarko Durisic last year, per Krawczysnki and Charania. Some people believed those moves flew in the face of Rosas’ portrayal of the organization as a “family.”
  • Krawczynski and Charania say Rosas was “working feverishly” this offseason to try to acquire Ben Simmons, who was viewed by some people in the organization as the roster’s missing piece. It’s unclear if Gupta will have the same level of interest in the Sixers star.
  • A report from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report confirms and adds some details to many of the issues reported by The Athletic, including the recent discovery of Rosas’ “consensual extramarital affair” with a team staffer.

Northwest Notes: Green, Timberwolves, Lore, Snyder

JaMychal Green drew interest from a number of teams during free agency, Mike Singer of The Denver Post reports. Green caught the attention of the Timberwolves, Pelicans, Sixers, Spurs and Bucks. Minnesota even considered a possible sign-and-trade for the veteran forward, who opted to re-sign with the Nuggets on a two-year, $17MM deal.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves had some level of interest in all of the forwards involved in the unofficial three-team trade among the Bulls, Cavaliers and Trail Blazers, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. They had early interest this summer in restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen, who’s headed to Cleveland in the sign-and-trade, but Chicago didn’t seriously engage them in trade discussions, Wolfson adds. Minnesota had strong interest last year in Larry Nance Jr., who’s going to Portland, and Derrick Jones Jr., who’s joining the Bulls.
  • Marc Lore, who along with former baseball star Alex Rodriguez has assumed 20% of the Timberwolves franchise with plans to eventually become the controlling owners, believes he can sell top free agents on coming to Minnesota, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. “When players or people say, ‘Hey, it’s a small market, we’re never going to get any of the big free agents,’ — well, if they share a similar set of values maybe they will (come),” Lore said. “If you really stand for something, and they’re passionate about the same values, then they’re like, ‘No, I’ve seen it. I’ve heard about it. I want to be a part of that.'”
  • Jazz coach Quin Snyder isn’t likely to tinker too much with his lineups and rotations this coming season, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News speculates. Snyder isn’t the type of coach who does a lot of experimentation but he will play to the strengths of his personnel and there are some new faces, so that will require some flexibility, Todd adds.

Northwest Notes: Conley, Jazz, Collison, Thunder, Wolves

Now that Mike Conley‘s contract situation is worked out, he’s focused on helping the Jazz win a championship, writes John Coon of The Associated Press. Conley received interest from multiple teams before agreeing to a three-year, $68MM contract to stay in Utah.

“Last year had a disappointing end to it,” he said. “But all the strides we’ve made along the way allow us to come into this season still chasing that championship — that ultimate goal. And it’s something that’s truly attainable. Something we can grasp. We’re right there. We’re knocking on the door.”

Conley also addressed the hamstring issue that caused him to miss five of the six games in the second-round series with the Clippers, saying he’s making progress toward a full recovery.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz haven’t historically been a popular destination for free agents, but that may be changing after the team’s success last season, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. In addition to keeping Conley, Utah was able to sign veteran free agents Rudy Gay and Hassan Whiteside. “A lot of really, really good teams were coming after me and wanted me to be there but I think this team was the team that had the most need for what I can do,” Gay said in his introductory press conference. “The culture, the ownership group is great, coach Quin (Snyder) is great. They really sold me on it.”
  • The Thunder announced in a press release on Tuesday that Nick Collison has been hired to the team’s front office, having been named a special assistant to general manager Sam Presti. According to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link), Eric Maynor is also moving from the OKC Blue staff to the Thunder as a player development coach, while Anthony Morrow has been hired as a lifestyle services and engagement associate.
  • The $27.5MM+ trade exception the Thunder created in last fall’s Steven Adams trade has now expired. As Bobby Marks of ESPN (Instagram video) observes, it’s not a big loss for Oklahoma City, since the team can still create up to $32MM in cap room by renouncing the rest of its exceptions if it so chooses.
  • Incoming Timberwolves owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore continue to do the media rounds, speaking to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic about how their partnership with Glen Taylor will work for the next couple years, and talking to Shams Charania of Stadium (video link) about their commitment to Minnesota.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Nuggets, Martin Sr., Timberwolves

The Jazz’s free agent moves were designed to make them a more complete playoff team, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes. Signing Rudy Gay in free agency and trading for Eric Paschall will allow Utah to match up better against small-ball lineups. The was something the Jazz struggled with when the Clippers went small against them in the postseason. The Jazz are also looking to sign their own restricted free agent, Trent Forrest, to a two-way deal, according to Jones.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Nuggets began their summer league mini-camp on Friday following a COVID-19 related pause, Kyle Frederickson of the Denver Post reports. Denver’s first three practices were canceled due to health and safety protocols after a positive test and subsequent contact tracing.
  • Kenyon Martin Sr. is back in the NBA as an assistant coach with the Nuggets’ summer league team, Marc Spears of The Undefeated tweets. He’s hoping to remain in the league in a coaching capacity.
  • In a detailed interview with the Timberwolves‘ buyers, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tells of how former baseball All-Star Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore made their deal with Glen Taylor. The transfer of ownership will be gradual process and Lore prefers it that way. “Glen had the team for almost 30 years. We’re thinking similarly,” Lore said. “We’re going to have this team for at least the next 30 years. … We don’t think we have all the answers. We’re not ready, quite frankly, to be making all the decisions right now.”

A-Rod, Lore Approved By Board Of Governors, Join Wolves Ownership Group

JULY 21: Rodriguez and Lore have officially closed their deal to assume control of 20% of the Wolves and the succession plan is now underway, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The team put out a press release formally welcoming A-Rod and Lore to the ownership group.


JULY 20: The NBA’s Board of Governors conducted a vote today to formally approve Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore as minority shareholders in the Timberwolves, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Rodriguez and Lore reached an agreement with current Wolves owner Glen Taylor that will see the duo eventually take majority control of the franchise, but that won’t happen right away. The succession plan A-Rod and Lore negotiated with Taylor calls for the new owners to take the reins by the 2023/24 season.

Given that arrangement, the league’s Board of Governors only needed to approve Rodriguez and Lore as limited partners for the time being. Once it’s time for majority control to change hands in 2023, another vote will be required, and there’s no reason to believe the new owners won’t be approved at that time.

Rodriguez was a 14-time All-Star as an MLB player, winning three MVP awards in 2003, 2005, and 2007, along with a title in 2009. Since retiring from baseball in 2016, A-Rod has become an entrepreneur and media star. His investments include fitness gyms, coconut water, e-sports, Fanatics, and a digital delivery service called goPuff.

Lore began his fortune with Quidsi, which sold to Amazon for $545MM in 2021, and later founded Jet.com, which Walmart bought for $3.3 billion in 2016. He served as Walmart’s eCommerce chief from 2016-21 before stepping down from that position earlier this year.

Rodriguez and Lore are said to be equal partners in the purchase, which also includes the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx.

And-Ones: COVID-19 Testing, Female Coaches, White, Hilliard, A-Rod

All of the players in the Finals have been tested daily for COVID-19 and none of them have returned a confirmed positive test since July 7, the NBA announced today (via Twitter). Outside of Chris Paul early in the postseason, no player has returned a positive test since the playoffs began.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • NBA players are increasingly open-minded about female coaches, but front offices remain reluctant to give one of them a shot as a head coach, according to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the Los Angeles Times. There’s increasing pressure on the league to give Spurs assistant Becky Hammon — a finalist for the Trail Blazers job — a chance to be a head coach, but GMs in a risk-averse league keep finding reasons to pass on her and other female candidates. Having more female executives around the league could change those perceptions, Nguyen adds.
  • Former NBA big man Okaro White has signed to play with Greece’s Panathinaikos next season, Alessandro Maggi of Sportando relays. White played in Russia last season. He appeared in 41 games for the Heat in 2016-18 and saw action in three games with the Wizards in 2018/19.
  • Former NBA guard Darrun Hilliard has agreed to terms with Germany’s Bayern Munich, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets. Hilliard appeared in 77 Pistons games from 2015-17 after getting drafted in the second round. He also played 14 games for the Spurs during the 2017/18 season.
  • Timberwolves buyers Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore met with the league’s Finance Committee this week, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. It’s part of the process to receive league approval for their first 20% purchase of the team. They will make multiple purchases of the franchise over the next few years until they become the controlling owners. The sale agreement was reached in mid-May. The Finance Committee is expected to recommend to the NBA’s Board of Governors that it approves the first sale.

Lawsuit Related To Sale Of Timberwolves Dismissed

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Timberwolves’ second-largest shareholder, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The decision means the sale of the team and the transition plan to new owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez can proceed as outlined in the sale agreement.

Meyer Orbach filed the suit in late May in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, claiming owner Glen Taylor’s arrangement with the buyers violates a partnership agreement by excluding “tag along rights.” That provision gives minority investors the option of selling their interests in the team before Taylor can. Orbach owns 17% of the Wolves and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, as well as the G League Iowa Wolves and the T-Wolves Gaming eSports franchise.

The judge sided with Taylor’s argument that because Lore and Rodriguez will start with a 20% share before gradually becoming full owners, there’s no initial agreement for controlling interest of the teams, Krawczynski adds (via Twitter). He ruled that Orbach’s contention that he should receive an immediate payout is null and void.

Lore and Rodriguez agreed to purchase the team for $1.5 billion and will serve as limited partners for two years while Taylor keeps majority control. The deal still needs final approval from the NBA’s Board of Governors.

Northwest Notes: Wolves Sale, Conley, Lillard, MPJ

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has filed legal documentation responding to a complaint filed recently by minority shareholder Meyer Orbach, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Orbach, who says he owns approximately 17% of the franchise, argued that his “tag-along rights” were violated, since he didn’t get the opportunity to cash out his stake in the team when the sale agreement with Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore was finalized.

Taylor contends that Orbach is not entitled to be bought out at this point because Rodriguez and Lore won’t assume majority control of the Timberwolves for two more years. For now, the duo has only agreed to purchase 20% of the club — full majority control will be subject to further investment and further league approval over the next two years.

While the legal battle between Taylor and Orbach may ultimately have little-to-no impact on Timberwolves fans, Dane Moore of Blue Wire Podcasts (Twitter link) points to an Instagram comment that made be of more interest to fans in Minnesota.

As Moore writes, Rodriguez replied to a comment asking him to keep the Timberwolves in Minnesota by replying, “We will!” There has been speculation that the new ownership group might want to relocate the franchise, but A-Rod’s first public statement on the topic suggests that’s not the plan.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Jazz point guard Mike Conley, who has yet to play in the second round due to a mild right hamstring strain, is “making progress” but remains day-to-day, head coach Quin Snyder said on Monday, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). While Utah could still conceivably win the series if Conley remains unavailable, the last couple games have showed how much the team misses its starting point guard, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic.
  • Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter said during a Monday appearance on SiriusXM Radio that he’d be surprised if Damian Lillard decides he wants to leave Portland, as Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. “He wants to win it all in Portland. I’m saying this every time I talk about him, but he’s definitely one of the most loyal and maybe the most loyal player in the league,” Kanter said. “… He doesn’t care about the big market, big-city base, and that he wants to just bring a championship to Portland and the state of Oregon.”
  • With Michael Porter Jr. up for a rookie scale extension this offseason, Mark Kiszla and Mike Singer of The Denver Post discuss whether the Nuggets should be comfortable putting a maximum-salary offer on the table for the 22-year-old forward.