Soon after Glen Taylor led a group of investors to an agreement to buy the Timberwolves in 1994, he helped save the franchise from a potential relocation and the franchise drafted its best-ever player, Kevin Garnett.
Now Taylor is considering selling the team with a stipulation that the new owners must keep it in Minnesota, and Garnett said he is a part of a group with interest in buying it. Also said to be “serious candidates” to be buyers, according to ESPN: Zygi and Mark Wilf, owners of the Vikings.
Taylor said any potential buyer has to guarantee the team remains in Minnesota. He said he owes that much to the state.
“It’s a state asset,” Taylor said. “It’s something we have here in Minnesota that not every state has. Some of the other states would like to have [the team]. This state has been really good to me.”
When asked if he could put provisions in a sale that would require a new owner to keep the team in Minnesota, Taylor replied: “Yeah. People asked me that. I just told them that’ll be part of the deal. You have to keep them in Minnesota.”
Taylor said he is receiving help from the merchant bank Raine Group as he courts offers for the Wolves. Garnett, on his Instagram account, posted a photo of a report that Taylor was fielding offers and said, “I’m one of the groups trying.” He included a quick prayer in all capital letters and added, “Let my group get this.”
It’s unclear where Garnett’s group stands.
Taylor said Raine Group initially reached out to him about the sale. A formerly interested buyer had worked with Raine Group on scouting the Wolves as a potential purchase, but when that buyer backed out of a potential deal for family reasons, Taylor said Raine Group approached him about bringing other interested buyers forward, many of whom would like Taylor to remain with the team in some capacity, he said.
One family from out of state is farther along in the process of buying the team, Taylor said, but he wasn’t sure if Garnett was affiliated with them.
Taylor said his age at 79 and the large number of businesses he owns under Taylor Corporation has made him consider selling the Wolves.
“I just got to start thinking about cleaning this thing up a little bit,” Taylor said. “The Timberwolves would be a big one to get some direction on what would happen. … I’m at a time in my life that I should get some of these here straightened out. Or else I look at my wife [Becky] and say, ‘I’m going to leave you guys with a big mess.’ ”
Garnett has made no secret of his desire to be part of the group that replaces Taylor as owner. Garnett has had a public feud with Taylor that has lasted past Garnett’s second stint with the team, which ended in 2016. But on Tuesday, another of Garnett’s posts to Instagram indicated he ceased hostilities with Taylor.
“Regardless of past feelings with Glen …” Garnett said. “I would love nothing better than to become partners going forward in this great but masive [sic] rebuilding of a city that I deeply love! Putting the past to the side/focus on the now.”
In an interview on WCCO Radio, Taylor was asked about potentially working well with Garnett. Taylor chuckled and said, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” But Taylor told the Star Tribune that if Garnett and his group were approved to buy the team, he would sell it to them.
“Then so be it,” Taylor said.
Garnett was upset over a variety of issues, including how the franchise handled the death of former coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders and a potential role for Garnett in the franchise upon his retirement from playing.
“It’s a state asset. It’s something we have here in Minnesota that not every state has. Some of the other states would like to have [the team]. This state has been really good to me.”
Garnett’s feelings toward Taylor didn’t subside in the years that followed. In an April article in The Athletic, Garnett said: “At this point, I don’t want any dealings with Glen Taylor or Taylor Corp. or anything that has to do with him,” adding he “doesn’t do business with snakes.”
But perhaps those feelings are thawing — and Garnett would keep the team in Minnesota.
“My passion for the Minnesota Timberwolves to be a championship team is well known but I have a deeper affection for the city of Minneapolis,” Garnett said on Instagram. “… No two people love the city more than myself and Glen Taylor.”
Taylor led a group of investors to buy the Wolves from Marv Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner for about $88 million in 1994. Forbes recently estimated the Wolves’ value at $1.375 billion, though that estimate came before the coronavirus postponed the NBA’s season in March.
A report from the sports business website Sportico said Taylor was seeking $1.2 billion.
Reports of a possible sale have come up before. Taylor also owns the Lynx and is an investor in Minnesota United. Taylor said he hoped the Lynx would be included in any sale of the Wolves. Taylor also owns the Star Tribune.