Timberwolves, Lynx ownership: Explaining the plan to transition teams to Marc Lore, Alex Rodriguez

As the Minnesota Timberwolves enter the stretch run toward the playoffs, their three-year ownership transition plan is reaching a culmination point as well.

The deadline for Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez to complete their purchase of a majority of the shares of the Timberwolves and Lynx from Glen Taylor is at the end of March. Lore and Rodriguez remain on track to finalize the transaction, two sources involved with the plans told The Athletic on Saturday.

It has been an unconventional process, given the years-long succession plan that was put in place when Lore and Rodriguez initially joined the ownership group as minority investors in April of 2021. That makes now a good time to revisit the arrangement to make it clear how this is all supposed to play out.

The plan

When Taylor agreed to sell the franchises to Lore and Rodriguez, it was significant not just because of the transfer of power that was going to take place, but also because the Wolves and Lynx owner had finally found a setup to his liking after more than a decade of looking for a successor. Taylor had conversations with a handful of prospective partners before Lore and Rodriguez came along, but was never able to come to an agreement on the terms for a sale. Part of the reason for that was Taylor wanted to make it as certain as possible that a new group would not look to move from Minnesota.

Another reason that he never signed any papers before 2021 was that Taylor loves being the owner of the Wolves and Lynx. He did not want to hand over the keys to the franchise immediately, preferring a plan that would allow him to be the steward of the franchise for a few more years before he took a backseat. Many of the prospective buyers were eager to take over the franchise right away. The gradual succession plan appealed to Lore and Rodriguez in part because they could take their time learning the ropes from Taylor and acquainting themselves with a league that was unfamiliar to them at the time, and in part because it allowed them time to get their finances in order to complete the $1.5 billion deal.

Even with the deal in place, there was an initial plan for Taylor to retain 20 percent ownership of the franchises.

The steps

There are three steps Lore and Rodriguez have to complete to fulfill their obligations and become majority owners. It started in 2021 with the purchase of the first 20 percent, making them full-fledged minority owners. They purchased another 20 percent last season and are due to buy 40 percent more by the end of this month, giving them 80 percent of the Timberwolves and Lynx.

The last two steps have followed identical processes. Both times, Lore and Rodriguez exercised their options to purchase a chunk of the teams in late December. Some have misconstrued the exercising of those options to mean that they had purchased the shares. That is inaccurate. Exercising the option merely opens a 90-day window for Lore and Rodriguez to purchase the stock.

With last year’s 20 percent purchase, for instance, Lore and Rodriguez exercised the option to buy in late December and then closed the purchase on March 28, 2023. This time around, they exercised the option again in late December and face the same timeline to close for the final 40 percent.

If they do not have the money by the end of this month, the deal could crater and Taylor would retain control of the team. But sources in the Lore/A-Rod camp have been steadfast the entire way that everything is in order. They have recruited a few minority partners to join their Purple Buyers Holdings LLC, but remain the faces of the deal and the most significant principal investors.

Assuming they complete the transaction, they would still have to be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors.

The setup

Despite not being majority owners, Lore and Rodriguez have been highly visible and influential in decision-making over the last few seasons. Like Taylor and his wife, Becky, they routinely sit courtside during games. Taylor has given them more latitude than any minority partner he has had since buying the team to be involved in high-level decisions.

Lore and Rodriguez drove the recruiting of President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly away from division rival Denver. Rodriguez figured prominently in ESPN’s all-day visit to Minnesota right after the All-Star break, including doing a courtside interview with Stephen A. Smith sitting right next to him. Lore and Rodriguez have overseen some small changes to Target Center as well and meet with players, coaches and executives regularly as they prepare to take over. They have consulted with Connelly on trades, signings and other roster decisions that had to be made.

Taylor has been directly involved in every decision as well, including the trade to bring Rudy Gobert from Utah that was widely panned last season and has been key to the team’s success this year. Taylor has had the final say on all major decisions and expenditures but has worked with the new guys in an effort to make this a smooth onboarding process. Lore and Rodriguez did not want to start from scratch when they took over, and Taylor’s willingness to allow them to operate with that freedom has helped make that happen.

As the process has played out, the team has flourished. The Timberwolves (42-18) are in first place in the Western Conference and have been there for most of the season. Target Center has been sold out for every game and hope is building that this team can advance out of the first round of the playoffs for just the second time in the franchise’s 35-year history.

Required reading

 (Photo: David Berding / Getty Images)

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