For about a month, Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor had been quietly working with merchant bank the Raine Group to sell the NBA franchise, then suddenly this week the news went public.
Why did that news get leaked now? If one were cynical, one could argue it was to light a fire under a lagging sales effort. While reports surfaced that the Wilf family — owners of the Minnesota Timberwolves — were interested, the latest from the Star-Tribune is that those talks have stalled.
It appears the Wilfs won’t be getting into the basketball business, at least not yet… sources told the Star Tribune on Wednesday that there are no active talks between Taylor and the Wilfs.
Who does that leave in serious contention for the team? The expected sale price is around $1.2 billion or higher (Forbes estimated $1.375 billion, but that was before the coronavirus shut down).
There have been reports that an “out of state” team is the current most serious bidder, and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps report that Meyer Orbach, a minority owner who currently owns about 10% of the team, is putting together an offer. Orbach is New Jersey based and made his money in real estate — he could be the out of state bid currently leading the way.
Former Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Garnett has been very public in his desire to put together a group to buy the team. All we know for sure about that is as much money as Garnett made both as a player and in business moves off the court, he does not have the resources to buy the team himself. He would have to be the face of a group of investors with some serious capital behind them. We don’t yet know the details on who would be part of this group (and how much Taylor wants to deal with Garnett).
It’s possible this is why news of the sale was leaked now — to light a fire under other potential owners to jump into the bidding process, or to spur existing bidders.
There reportedly have been bidders from out of state looking to move the Timberwolves, but Taylor — a former senator from Minnesota with deep ties to the state — will take less money to keep the team in Minnesota. Credit to the man for that. Plus, the Timberwolves have a lease at the recently-renovated Target Center that runs through 2035 and would not be easy to break.
The Timberwolves are one of the “delete eight” teams not invited to the NBA restart in Orlando because of their record this season. They have a cornerstone player to build around in Karl-Anthony Towns, and an aggressive new front office led by Gersson Rosas who paired D'Angelo Russell with Towns (how that pair works out remains to be seen).
There are only 30 NBA franchises and the opportunity to purchase one does not come along often, there likely are a number of billionaires kicking the tires on a sale. However, it seems there was a desire in some quarters to spark the process, so now it is much more public.