Hartman: Taylor finds his successor as Wolves owner

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 30, 2012 - 12:18 PM

He won't reveal the out-of-state buyer's identity yet but said the new owner will keep the Wolves and Lynx here.

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Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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Glen Taylor, who has owned the Timberwolves for 18 seasons and the Lynx for 13, has found the successor he has been looking for. In the near future, Taylor will close a deal to sell 25 percent of the franchises, and eventually the new owner will own the majority.

Unfortunately, the buyer is from outside the Twin Cities, but Taylor insists he will continue to own a share of the two teams and will make sure that they don't move out of the state.

"Yes, I have [found a buyer], and we're working on trying to put a deal together, and it would be a deal that would leave me involved for a number of years yet, but it would be a good transition," Taylor said Sunday.

"I will be an owner for a number of years but gradually bring in a partner, if this would work out. I'd bring in a partner and ... we'd work together. In the initial years, he would have less than 50 percent and then in the later years he would have more than 50 percent and would have the ownership."

Until the papers are signed, Taylor refuses to reveal the future owner's name. Apparently, though, he has agreed to keep the two teams in Minnesota as a part of the purchase agreement.

The Wolves and Lynx have 10 minority owners, and because the teams have been losing money, several of those owners have been trying to sell their shares, but Taylor hasn't allowed any to get out of ownership unless they can find someone else to buy their shares.

Taylor said that before turning the reins over in the future, his big goal is for the Wolves to be a contender for an NBA championship. They haven't been to the playoffs since reaching the Western Conference finals eight years ago.

Taylor, 71, saved the Wolves from moving in 1994 after former owners Marvin Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner were ready to sell the team to a group that wanted to move it to New Orleans. NBA Commissioner David Stern stepped in and refused to allow the move at the time, but had a buyer not been found the team would have been allowed to relocate eventually.

As for Taylor's goal to make the Wolves a playoff contender, the owner believes President of Basketball Operations David Kahn has done a good job in adding former Jazz star Andrei Kirilenko; Chase Budinger from the Rockets; Brandon "Bad Knees" Roy, who will come out of retirement; Alexey Shved of the Russian Olympic team; and former Celtics center Greg Stiemsma. Roy's contract is for two years, but if his knee problem forces him out again, the Wolves are off the hook for the second year.

Liriano's departure

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan explained why the club didn't try to sign Francisco Liriano rather than doing what they did Saturday night, trading him to the White Sox for infielder Eduardo Escobar and pitcher Pedro Hernandez.

"The question there is, which guy are you signing?" Ryan said. "Are you signing the April/May numbers or the June/July numbers? It's a little tough to zero in and figure out where you're going. It was so different, the two parts of his season with us to this point.

"There were times out there in his starts where things were working, and obviously there were times they weren't. You have to decide on which guy he is, and taking everything into consideration, we decided to let it play out, keep all the options open, and we decided to get a couple guys back."

Ryan added: "You try to get the best deal on the table, and I think obviously knowing what was offered and knowing who had interest, you could play this out a couple more days. But I was very concerned that if Frankie went out there and pitched [Sunday against Cleveland], you always take the chance that he might get hurt. You also put a lot of pressure on the kid, which I was tired of doing. He had a lot of pressure pitching in Chicago the other day, and it didn't go well [giving up three homers in 2 2/3 innings]. I had to take a lot of things into consideration on this thing."

Liriano's contract called for $5.5 million this season. So with 62 games left, the Twins will save around $2.1 million in his salary.

Jottings

• MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is the keynote speaker for Tuesday's luncheon at Target Field celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series. "This is an inner-city program which started out with nothing 20 years ago," Selig said. "They have over 200,000 kids playing baseball, including some people in the big leagues like CC Sabathia. It's been a remarkable program, it's one that I'm very, very proud of. So we're coming, the Twins organization is the host and I'm pleased. They do their usual remarkable job." The Twins are playing host to the RBI World Series for the second year in a row.

• Former Twins pitcher Phil Humber, now with the White Sox, talked to the Chicago Tribune about becoming teammates with Liriano again: "I played with Francisco and he is a great teammate," Humber said. "He is one of those guys who makes the guys around him better by the way he works hard. Everybody knows he has great stuff."

• The good news on Escobar, the 23-year-old infielder the Twins received as part of Saturday night's trade, is that even though he was only a .207 hitter with the White Sox, he was reportedly a popular player in the team's clubhouse. "He's such a good kid," major league home run leader Adam Dunn told the Associated Press. "We really enjoyed having him." Added longtime Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko, "He's probably going to play every day and become a household name over there."

• Heavyweights Travis Browne and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva will headline the Ultimate Fighting Championship match at Target Center on Oct. 5.

• Some of Visanthe Shiancoe's former Vikings teammates were surprised the tight end didn't get picked up by anybody until the opening of training camp. The Patriots signed him for $1.2 million with only $400,000 guaranteed.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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