Alex Rodriguez Is Getting Close to Acquiring the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Rodriguez and Marc Lore, an e-commerce billionaire, have stated their intention to keep the team in Minnesota, according to the team’s current owner.
Alex Rodriguez, the former Yankees star and three-time American League most valuable player, and Marc Lore, an e-commerce billionaire who is similar to Rodriguez, signed a letter of intent on Saturday to acquire the National Basketball Association’s Minnesota Timberwolves and the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Minnesota Lynx, the parties to the deal reported.
The Timberwolves announced in a statement that longtime owner Glen Taylor had agreed to a “contract arrangement” with Rodriguez and Lore that would keep them as limited partners until 2023 but also provide them with a “pathway to controlling ownership of the organization.”
Rodriguez, 45, and Lore, 49, were key members of a group that included Rodriguez’s partner, Jennifer Lopez, that made a serious run at purchasing the Mets before withdrawing in August 2020 as the Mets were closing in on a $2.4 billion sale to billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.
Rodriguez and Lore have 30 days to close the Minnesota deal after signing the letter of intent, and said in a joint statement on Saturday: “We look forward to moving forward with Glen Taylor in this step of the process.” Our admiration for him and the legacy he has built lays the groundwork for what is to come.”
Taylor, who turns 80 on April 20, has been attempting to sell the Timberwolves and Lynx franchises since July 2020, with the two franchises regularly valued in the $1.5 billion range. Taylor has consistently stated in recent months that the process is moving slowly, in part due to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the financial sector and the viability of franchises leaguewide. Rodriguez and Lore’s recent introduction seemed to have altered the perception.
Taylor said Saturday’s agreement came together “very quickly” in an interview with The Minneapolis Star Tribune, which he also owns. Additionally, he told the newspaper that Rodriguez and Lore wanted to retain the franchises in Minneapolis, trying to assuage rumors about the Timberwolves possibly moving to Seattle. That is, of course, the city where Rodriguez started his Major League Baseball career — and which has longed for an NBA franchise since the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.
Taylor told The Star Tribune, “They will keep the team here.” “It will be included in the agreement. We already have a letter of intent, so when we finalize the contract, we will incorporate it. That will not be an issue.”
Taylor acquired the Timberwolves in 1994, maintaining the franchise’s Minnesota status in the face of a significant threat of relocation to New Orleans, but has struggled since the 2007 trade of Kevin Garnett, the franchise’s greatest star, to Boston. Minnesota is on track to miss the playoffs for the 16th time in the last 17 seasons, dating all the way back to 2003-04, when the team reached the Western Conference finals. It currently has the worst record in the N.B.A.’s 30-team league, standing at 13-40.
Taylor entered a similar advanced stage of sale negotiations with a consortium led by Daniel E. Straus, a former minority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, in August 2020, only for the transaction to collapse. Taylor had previously walked away from the negotiation table after strongly considering selling the team, but Rodriguez and Lore seem willing to give Taylor a timetable that allows him to gradually wean himself away from Timberwolves ownership — a luxury Taylor is known to crave.
The Timberwolves have had a turbulent season, in part due to the February firing of Coach Ryan Saunders, the son of former Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, and subsequent backlash over their sudden hiring of Chris Finch, a Toronto Raptors assistant coach, as Saunders’ replacement. They have two No. 1 overall draft choices on their roster in Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, as well as a previous No. 2 overall pick in D’Angelo Russell, but the Wolves will forfeit their first pick in the 2021 draft as part of a prior trade with Golden State unless it is selected in the top three of the draft lottery.
Rodriguez, who is now a popular ESPN baseball analyst in addition to his numerous business ventures, hit 696 home runs in a 22-year career with the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, and Yankees and earned a World Series ring with the Yankees in 2009 — but also faced harsh scrutiny and a yearlong suspension as a player for his admitted use of performance-enhancing drugs. Lore previously worked as Walmart’s chief executive officer of US e-commerce and founded large e-commerce companies such as Diapers.com and Jet.com.