Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor met with Los Angeles private-equity investor Steve Kaplan on Wednesday in continuing negotiations to sell part of the franchise that are complex, proceeding slowly and still may not ever be completed, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Taylor met with Kaplan and one of his partners — Indonesian businessman Handy Soetedjo, who owns a piece of Italian soccer club Inter Milan — at the team’s Target Center game against Washington.
Last week, Taylor called negotiations to sell 30 percent of the team at a “standstill” while Kaplan pursues selling his ownership stake in the Memphis Grizzlies. NBA rules prohibit owning parts of two teams.
That matter won’t be a deal breaker if other issues can be resolved, according to the person. Among them: How much voice the new minority ownership group will have in vital decisions concerning the franchise, the sheer complexity of such a sales agreement and whether Taylor, who has owned the team since 1994, will really sell a business he loves when it comes to putting pen to paper.
Foremost among those decisions is whether to hire permanently interim head coach Sam Mitchell and keep General Manager Milt Newton doing his expanded duties. Taylor has said he will evaluate both men throughout this season before he makes a decision.
The slow-going negotiations assure that Taylor alone will decide both men’s futures, and he is actively investigating his options, the person said.
Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, last week said he believes the sale will eventually be completed in a timeline he characterized as months and “not weeks.” The negotiations have been ongoing since at least last fall.
Taylor has said he intends to sell a third of the team now to Kaplan’s group and majority interest to the group at a time to be determined later. At age 74, he calls it his responsibility to prepare the franchise for the day he no longer owns it.
Now that the Wolves have signed center Greg Smith to a 10-day audition, they are shopping the D League and released NBA players for an athletic wing player to fill their remaining open roster spot.
Mitchell wants a player with NBA experience whom the Wolves can bring to training camp next fall with a real chance to make the team.
On a team that needs better shooting, Mitchell said Thursday he wants someone who can shoot, defend and upgrade an area where the Wolves already have Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns running and jumping.
“We have to improve our athleticism,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think we’re a bad athletic team, but we’re not as athletic as we need to be. We need to look at guys who can defend, a guy who can shoot, and see how this team can look if we can spread the floor a little bit more.”
Among those available: Former Memphis forward James Ennis, who was waived Wednesday, and D League prospects/former NBA players such as Jordan Hamilton, Ricky Ledo, Orlando Johnson, Vander Blue and Devin Ebanks.
Towns wins again
Towns now is 4-for-4 on NBA Rookie of the Month honors after the league on Thursday named him the West’s best for February. Wiggins also won it the season’s first four months a year ago on his way to the Rookie of the Year award.