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'Nuclear bomb' for Lore and Rodriguez as Wolves sale falls through

DENVER – A day after Glen Taylor said he would remain the controlling owner of the Timberwolves and Lynx when a sale to Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez fell through, Lore said he and Rodriguez would fight "with all means possible" to complete the last portion of the deal that would make them leaders of the franchise.

"We're going to own this team for the next 50 years, at least," Lore said. "We got a long road ahead of us, and we're going to fight it with all means possible. We're not giving up."

In a joint interview with the Star Tribune on Friday, both Lore and Rodriguez referred to Taylor's announcement Wednesday as a "nuclear bomb" that took them by surprise, since they thought they had fulfilled the necessary contractual obligations in completing the deal for another 40% of the franchise on top of the nearly 40% they already own.

But Friday, Rodriguez said he was "disgusted," and Lore said Thursday's announcement that Taylor was ending the sale of the team came with "disappointment and surprise" and that Taylor "blindsided" them. They said Taylor was not honoring the deal because the value of the franchise has gone up significantly and he can get more money than the agreed-upon gradual $1.5 billion sale of the team in 2021.

"It's just bad faith that you have a deal and a contract, and then because you're able to get more money, you just decide I don't want the contract anymore," Lore said. "That's just bad faith. It's not being a good person, a good partner, a good human. You just don't do that. It's sort of like honor. It's honor a little bit. You made a deal and then you honor it because you have integrity."

Added Rodriguez: "We woke up to this storm. I'm with my family. Marc's with his family. And it's just like, what the ... ? This is our partner."

Sudden change

As recently as a few days ago, Lore and Rodriguez said they assumed everything was fine with Taylor and the sale; they said they texted Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, shortly after submitting financial paperwork to the league on March 21. Taylor replied thanking them. Now, Lore and Rodriguez say Taylor communicated to their lawyers that they can't access facilities or communicate with players and staff.

Taylor said Lore and Rodriguez still have access to the arena, budgets and team personnel "as any limited partners would." But Taylor's counsel did inform Lore and Rodriguez of guidelines for the future of the dynamic between the parties with Lore and Rodriguez as limited partners.

Previously, Lore and Rodriguez participated in meetings with organizational leadership on the business and basketball sides and had access to parts of the arena that NBA limited partners normally do not get access to. Taylor's counsel informed Lore and Rodriguez that will change moving forward.

"We told him we sent the paperwork in. He thanked us. Saw him at the game a couple days ago, him and [Taylor's wife] Becky. It was hugs and kisses, and everything seemed great," Lore said. " … So we were just shocked why a partner, a friend would do something like that.

"Then, to add insult to injury, to say you can't go in the family room, you can't talk to players. You can't talk to staff. You can't go over here, can't walk over there — just very disrespectful, we thought."

Taylor said he would have no problem working in the future with Lore and Rodriguez.

"They're limited partners," Taylor said Friday. "They have access to the budgets, access to everything just like my other partners do. I'm not mad at those guys. It has nothing to do with that."

Fine print

One of the points of contention revolves around section 6.4 (a) of the agreement between the parties. As part of their sale agreement with Taylor, Lore and Rodriguez exercised a "call option" on Dec. 31, 2023, for the so-called "second tranche" of the sale. That gave them a nearly three-month window, which closed Wednesday, to consummate that part of the sale.

That deadline can be extended 90 days if the sides are awaiting league approval to finish the deal. This is what Lore and Rodriguez maintain — that they secured the necessary funding for the deal and submitted the paperwork to the NBA in time, which should trigger that extra 90 days to complete the deal. This came even after a deal to provide funding with the Washington, D.C.-based Carlyle Group fell through recently.

Taylor is contending Lore and Rodriguez didn't fulfill necessary, contractual steps before Wednesday and that the failure to meet those deadlines is cause to terminate that part of the deal.

"We had a deal with them, and they didn't perform," Taylor said. "That would be my response."

Lore and Rodriguez say Taylor's interpretation is wrong, that the only dates that mattered were Dec. 31, when they notified Taylor of their intent to make the purchase, and Wednesday, when they said they had the funding secured and paperwork submitted to the NBA days prior.

They say Taylor is making up reasons to void the contract because the value of the franchise went up (Forbes valued it in October at $2.5 billion) and Taylor could get more money for him and his partners by selling the rest of their shares at a higher rate.

"I have a responsibility to my partners," Taylor told the Star Tribune on Thursday.

Rodriguez responded: "Now he admits because the team is worth more, he has a responsibility to [limited partners] — that's just white noise because you still have to honor the contract."

Added Lore: "It sounded like this was all preordained and he knew exactly what he was going to do no matter what on the 28th. Because it was well orchestrated with the press and everything."

Money matters

Rodriguez confirmed that he was largely gathering the funding for the latest purchase after Lore had put in more money during the first two tranches. Lore and Rodriguez said they would have owned "close to 50%" of the overall franchise after Wednesday with the remaining part of their 80% stake owned by limited partners. They currently own 36%, with limited partners owning their other 4%.

"Just because I'm upfront doesn't mean Marc's not fully integrated, and there's going to come a time where Marc is upfront that I'm not fully integrated. That's just the way we work," Rodriguez said. "We're one."

Both also disputed the notion, which has dogged them throughout the process, that they didn't have the money to complete the sale, and that Lore was too distracted by one of his newest ventures, Wonder, to aid in the process.

"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."

Lore and Rodriguez have retained the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz out of New York to aid in the next steps as they vow to fight Taylor and his interpretation of their agreement.

"We complied by the contract," Rodriguez said. "And the only thing left here was for the NBA to approve and for us to fund. So, again, we're more disappointed than anything."