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NBA won’t intervene in Timberwolves ownership dispute

DENVER – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league likely does not have a place to intervene in the ongoing dispute between majority owner Glen Taylor and minority owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore over sale of a portion of the franchise that would have made Rodriguez and Lore the new controlling owners.

"It's not clear whether there will be a role for the league to get involved," Silver told reporters Wednesday in New York, where the league was holding a board of governors meeting. "… They have a purchase agreement and there's a dispute now in the purchase agreement and in their purchase agreement, they, in essence, pre-agreed to a dispute resolution mechanism that includes mediation and arbitration, and that's where it stands.

"There is no role for the league in that process."

That arbitration process could take several months. Silver's comments are the first from the league on the matter, and they come nearly two weeks after Taylor, Rodriguez and Lore traded public barbs over Lore and Rodriguez's bid to purchase the next 40% of the franchise from Taylor after purchasing nearly 40% previously.

Also Wednesday, ESPN reported Taylor nixed the deal because he was concerned about Lore and Rodriguez's ability to sustain the franchise's success. According to the report, Rodriguez and Lore submitted a budget projection for next season at $171 million, below the luxury tax line, which the Wolves will have to exceed if they want to keep this season's roster, which is tied for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, largely intact for another run.

Rodriguez and Lore accused Taylor of having "seller's remorse," that Taylor was looking for an excuse to back out of the deal because the franchise is worth significantly more than when the sides agreed to a $1.5 billion sale of it in 2021. Forbes valued it in October at $2.5 billion.

Lore and Rodriguez said they were entitled to another 90-day extension to complete the deal after a March 27 deadline because they were awaiting league approval of information they said they submitted to the NBA prior to the deadline. Silver was asked about that issue.

"I can't say more, other than that comment is at the heart of their dispute," Silver said. "Again, the dispute is precisely that. … That's the very basis of the dispute. And so that dispute will be resolved independent of the league office."

Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, has said Lore and Rodriguez didn't meet contractual obligations of the deal along the way prior to March 27, and he said in a statement on March 28 that the team was "not for sale" and he would remain the controlling owner. Taylor did add that he had a responsibility to his limited partners, who were looking for Taylor to seize an opportunity to increase the value of their shares.

The ESPN report also makes it seem like Taylor had concerns over Lore and Rodriguez's ability to sustain a successful team that might have to operate in the luxury tax. With large extensions for Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels and Karl-Anthony Towns set to kick in next season, the Wolves might end up with nearly $200 million in payroll.

In an interview with the Star Tribune on March 29, Lore said he had money ready to contribute to the keep the Wolves competitive.

"I've never been in better financial position," Lore said. "Way better now than I was two and a half years ago when we did this deal. … I'm flush with cash. I've got literally hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank, ready to invest in the Wolves and bring home a championship. We're never in a better spot."

Silver said how the nature of the transaction played out over multiple years might cause the league to re-examine whether it will approve such a structure for a deal in the future.

"It's certainly not ideal to have a stepped transaction like this," Silver said. "I mean, it met our rules from that standpoint. And it's what Glen Taylor wanted and it's what they were willing to agree to at the time. But I think once the dust clears on this deal, it may cause us to reassess what sort of transactions we should allow."