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Souhan: No matter who owns the Wolves, pay the tax and play for keeps

The next drama facing the Minnesota Timberwolves will play out in arbitration.

We don't know who will be the majority owner of the team at the end of the summer: Glen Taylor, or Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez.

For now, they are the odd conglomeration in charge of Minnesota's most promising team, and here's my message to them:

Yo, GLoRod: Don't mess this up.

The Timberwolves have never been better than they were in the first two rounds of these playoffs, and they have never been more promising than they are right now.

They have one of the best personnel bosses in the game, in Tim Connelly.

They have the right coach, in Chris Finch, and he has the support of excellent coaching and player development staffs.

Their top seven players will return. The easy assumption was that Kyle Anderson would leave as a free agent, but on Friday Connelly, Finch and Anderson all indicated there's a possibility he could be back.

Their best player, Anthony Edwards, is 22 and entering his athletic prime.

GLoRod should ensure that they provide stability for a team on the right track. Because this team is on the right track.

That's why Minnesota sports fans need to stop pretending that the Wolves' loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference finals is part of some continuum, where sports exist to torment them.

This was one of the best and most enjoyable seasons produced by a Minnesota sports team in the last decade.

Don't equate a loss in the Western Conference finals to two future Hall of Famers to a long-ago loss in a 1970s Super Bowl.

This was not 41-donut, when the Vikings failed to compete in the 2000 NFC title game.

This was not an excruciating missed field goal, or a 12th man in the huddle, or the Twins flopping in the first round.

This was more of a beginning than an ending.

So many big Vikings losses occurred when they were reliant on a quarterback having a once-in-a-lifetime, or just-one-more-time, season.

Randall Cunningham was never going to play as well as he did again after '98. Brett Favre didn't even want to play after 2009, and returned more for money than because of hope. Case Keenum was a career backup. That 41-0 loss was the result of a franchise in decline being propped up by three stars: Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Daunte Culpepper.

Just because the Wolves' last loss was a bad loss doesn't erase this team's standing as one of the most endearing in recent Minnesota sports history. They filled Target Center and made downtown Minneapolis the place to be.

Last season, Finch decided to emphasize defense, and the Wolves became the best defensive team in the league.

Next season, if they can improve similarly on offense, they will be well-equipped to compete in a brutal Western Conference, and they will enter the playoffs as a rare Wolves team with significant playoff experience.

The only other time the Wolves went to the conference finals, they were a powderkeg. When Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell didn't get the contract extensions they desired, they tanked the season, got Flip Saunders fired, and precipitated a franchise collapse that led to the terrible trade of Kevin Garnett for Al Jefferson and spare parts.

Connelly's decisions have set up the Wolves to be contenders for years to come, and he said Friday he intends to stay in Minnesota.

Bad luck, or bad ownership, are the only obstacles to continued success for this team.

Keeping the Wolves' top eight together, and perhaps supplementing them with a three-point specialist or backup for point guard Mike Conley, will be expensive.

The current/next owner should pay what it takes to win. NBA franchise values continue to skyrocket. Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, has proved he is willing to take a financial hit to win. If Lore and Rodriguez aren't willing or able to do so, then every Timberwolves fan should be rooting against them gaining control of the team.