Reports surfaced last week that Glen Taylor is actively shopping the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx.
The news probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. Taylor isn’t a young 79 years old. We’re also in the middle of a global pandemic where sports have become an afterthought for most people.
I understand that irony in that statement considering if you’re reading this, you probably don’t think of sports as an afterthought, but alas.
We’ve seen sports are so very fragile in times like this. A flurry of Miami Marlins players testing positive could ruin the MLB season.
Things seem to be going well in Orlando as the NBA looks to finish its season, but it’s almost a certainty the 2020-21 season will be without fans. One way to deal with the financial struggles of a team is just to sell that team. It’s a lot easier to step away from something that has as many uncertainties as the upcoming NBA season does.
While Taylor has been criticized for making not so great decisions (Joe Smith of all people?!), it should also be noted that he kept the Timberwolves in Minnesota when that wasn’t the popular thing to do outside of the state. For as much criticism as Taylor gets (and much of it he certainly deserves), keeping the team in Minnesota is worth something. Without that, I wouldn’t be writing this. So thank you very much Mr. Taylor for putting some money in my pockets indirectly.
So, what now?
The Timberwolves were most-recently valued at $1.375 billion by Forbes, but that was before the pandemic. How much does the loss of in-arena revenue for at least one season impact that? Given how many people want to own an NBA team, I would say probably not much at all. With that being said, Taylor already laid off a chunk of employees and forced others to take pay cuts. While the Timberwolves and Lynx are a business just like any other, it’s not exactly a “BUY US NOW, THINGS ARE GREAT” sign for potential buyers.
The two most popular names that have been reported as candidates to buy the team are Kevin Garnett and the Wilf family. Over the weekend, reports also surfaced that former NBA player Arron Afflalo is leading a group to make a bid for the team which seems completely random and probably the last name I would have thought of to buy the Timberwolves, but here we are.
Let’s break down these three candidates, although there are certainly more names that will pop up as the days go by. You’ll probably hear three or four more by the time this article is released because, well, that’s how life works.
KG . . . AND WHO ELSE?
I want this to happen. You want this to happen. KG definitely wants this to happen. But does Glen Taylor want this to happen?
Garnett and Taylor’s relationship has been rocky over the years, and that’s probably an understatement. That only thing that held it together was the late Flip Saunders.
Taylor could try to mend the relationship by putting together a sale to Garnett’s group.
It’s worth noting that Garnett can’t just buy the team by himself. He made more than $300 million in his career, which is a very large amount of money. However, it’s quite short of $1.375 billion. As much as we want to make this about Garnett and Taylor, it will most certainly be about whoever else is helping Garnett with the bid. Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press has reported that billionaires in California and Florida (please stay inside and wear a mask!) are helping Garnett with the bid. Garnett’s contribution would be about $200 million.
Garnett becoming a part-owner would be an incredible moment for a franchise that has had zero incredible moments that don’t include Garnett. His jersey would be retired immediately, and it’s such a shame it hasn’t been done already. The move certainly would help with trying to keep someone like Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota.
On paper, this is the deal that makes the most sense and would help heal a fanbase. But does the move make CENTS for Taylor?
It’s easy for us to think Taylor should do this deal in a heartbeat if the money is there. The relationship between Taylor and Garnett seems much more complicated than that, though.
THE WILF FAMILY
The steam that Wilf family, who also owns the Minnesota Vikings, have died down a bit.
In a recent Star Tribune story, it was reported the Wilf family was approached about possibly acquiring the Wolves, but they aren’t interested.
This was a fun thought while it lasted. It would give the family three of the major teams in the Twin Cities area. By reputation alone, it would be a move that would benefit the Timberwolves’ organization on the basketball operations side and the business side.
The Wilf family hasn’t been afraid to spend money to improve the team and from a handful of people I’ve talked to who work for the organization, it sounds like the Wilf family treats their employees well.
DON’T TELL NEMANJA
The Arron Afflalo development is the most interesting and also the most random. Afflalo made right around $60 million during his NBA career so, like Garnett, this is more about Afflalo’s group than it is about Afflalo.
Afflalo doesn’t have any ties to Minnesota besides getting into a weird tussle with Nemanja Bjelica back in 2018.
It sounds like Afflalo’s bid was submitted this weekend and it includes “two to five individuals with a net worth of more than $10 billion.” That seems like a very cable company “we’ll come out this afternoon” range of billionaires, but I also have a Best Buy gift card from four years ago, so what do I really know about money?
I can’t imagine Timberwolves’ fans would handle it all that well if Taylor sold the team to a former player’s group who wasn’t named Kevin Garnett. What Taylor’s PR team should do if the team isn’t sold to Garnett is leak the offers made to acquire the team. If the group Garnett is leading has an offer that is significantly lower, that will lower the public backlash.
I grew up a Timberwolves’ and Lynx fan. While the sale to Garnett would be nice, I think the most important thing would be to have the Lynx in the sale as well to an owner who wants to invest in the WNBA and its players. One thing Taylor deserves tons of credit for is the way he bought into the WNBA and supported the Lynx. If you’re going to hate on him for how things have gone with the Timberwolves, you have to give him plenty of love for how things have gone with the Lynx. It goes both ways.
Taylor’s legacy in Minnesota is already complicated. Who he sells his teams to next will make things less complicated for many people. Whether that’s in a positive or negative way is up to him.