News that’s been rumored for a year now have been confirmed – Glen Taylor is ready to sell the Timberwolves. The 79-year-old owner was contemplating a sale several times in the past, but this time the stars have aligned. Taylor’s first condition is for the team to stay in Minneapolis and to ensure a stable transition.
It’s no secret the Wolves haven’t been the standard for stability for a long time. Taylor thinks that with CEO Ethan Casson, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas and coach Ryan Saunders the team has a great management core in place. They have a foundational piece in Karl Anthony Towns, and after bringing D’Angelo Russell on, their commitment to Minneapolis is not in question.
Several groups emerged as serious contenders to purchase the team. According to ESPN and The Athletic, the Wilf family, which owns the Vikings, is the current frontrunner. After purchasing the Vikings for $600 million, the Wilf’s saw the team valuation explode after building a state of the art stadium. Adding an NBA team to their portfolio would make sense, and for Taylor, there’s no doubt they would keep the team in Minneapolis.
The second contender is Meyer Orbach, a New York-based real estate magnate. Orbach is a minority owner in the Wolves and has been in talks to purchase the team from Taylor in the past. This is a preferred path for NBA ownership in the league – other owners and the league office get a chance to see you in action before entrusting you with a team. Warriors owner Joe Lacob was a minority partner in the Celtics. Kings owner Vivek Randive was a minority owner of the Warriors. Think of it as the owners G League.
The third serious contender is the one we’ve all been thinking about since the news broke. Kevin Garnett has a long known love for Minneapolis and a hot-cold relationship with Glen Taylor. Despite his comments on wanting to bring the Sonics back, there’s no doubt Garnett would never take a team out of Minneapolis. But, there’s another, even more significant, elephant in the room. Here’s how KG talked about Glen Taylor three months ago.
“Glen and I had an understanding before Flip died, and when Flip died, that understanding went with Flip. For that, I won’t forgive Glen. I won’t forgive him for that. I thought he was a straight-up person, straight up businessman, and when Flip died, everything went with him. … I don’t do business with snake mu’fuckas. I try not to do business with openly snakes or people who are snake-like.”Kevin Garnett, The Athletic
I don’t have an MBA, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s not easy to close a deal with a guy after you call him “snake” or “snake-like.” KG understands that and started his campaign.
The lastest Forbes valuations put the Timberwolves around $1.375 billion. Reports say Taylor put his starting price at $1.2 billion, factoring for the uncertainty of COVID-19. With three interested groups – Wilf family (Vikings owners), Meyer (minority owner), KG (Wolves legend) – we can expect a bidding war. Taylor pointed out he is in no rush to sell the Wolves and wants to make sure Minnesota has a well-run team for years to come.
As romantic as former legends owning teams sound, that’s no guarantee it’s the best model for good leadership. To be honest, MJ, the owner/GM, doesn’t have a stellar record. If someone other than KG wins the bid, bringing him on as a minority partner would be an excellent move for Garnett and whoever the owner is.