The pending sale of the Minnesota Timberwolves to a group headed by Alex Rodriguez caught the NBA world by surprise earlier this month.
One of the best players in modern MLB history, Rodriguez was bandied about as a potential buyer for the New York Mets before Steve Cohen ultimately stepped in and purchased the franchise.
It’s rather clear that Rodriguez and his significant other, Jennifer Lopez, have been attempting to get into the ownership game recently. Joining forces with billionaire Marc Lore, that’s exactly what Rodriguez is on the verge of doing.
The deal, which carries a valuation of $1.5 billion, will include Rodriguez and Lore being mentored by current owner Glen Taylor before ultimately taking over as majority owners in two years. Taylor spoke about the pending sale and what it might mean for the Timberwolves’ future in Minnesota. His comments are rather interesting.
“The real agreement is with the NBA. The NBA will make the decision if somebody’s going to move or not,” Taylor said. “The NBA will not approve the Timberwolves moving from here to Seattle. It’s in the NBA’s interest that in Seattle a new team is formed.”
Taylor pointed to language in the contract with Rodriguez and Lore that includes the Timberwolves not relocating. He also made sure to note that an expansion franchise in Seattle would likely cost a new ownership group $2 billion, money that would then go into the hands of team owners and the Association — making it more financially fitting to build a team from the ground up in the Pacific Northwest.
Speculation grew once the reported sale became public record last week that Rodriguez and Lore would look to move the Timberwolves from Minnesota to Seattle. That doesn’t appear to be in the cards right now.
NBA to expand to Las Vegas, Seattle?
MGM CEO Jim Murren said in July of 2020 that he expects there will be an NBA expansion team in Las Vegas at some point within the next few years.
It makes sense for a number of reasons. The NHL’s Golden Knights have been a major hit in the growing desert metropolis. Meanwhile, the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders had a huge showing of support in the city during their inaugural campaign despite fans not being allowed to attend games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There’s been talk of both the NBA and MLB adding teams to Las Vegas. While Major League Baseball’s presence in Sin City could come via relocation (Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland Athletics), that doesn’t appear to be in the cards when it comes to the NBA. Primarily, it’s all financial. As Taylor noted in his comments, an expansion team would create more revenue than a current organization relocating would.
As for the Pacific Northwest, the NBA has been studying the possibility of expansion into the Emerald City. Seattle lost the Sonics following the 2007-08 season when they moved to Oklahoma City and rebranded as the Thunder. Since then, there’s been a major push for Seattle to get another team.
At least for now, it does not appear that supposed team will be the Minnesota Timberwolves despite previous rumors hinting in that direction.