The Timberwolves are finally being sold. After being put up for sale last summer by owner Glen Taylor, the Wolves will eventually belong to Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez.
This could have a big impact on Las Vegas’ chances at landing an NBA team.
First off is the potential of relocation. Alex Rodriguez started his MLB career in Seattle, the city most likely to land the next NBA team. With a new ownership group, staying in Minnesota might not be a priority. And bringing back the Super Sonics could be more profitable.
But Glen Taylor has said part of the sale will include an agreement not to relocate the team. So the Wolves will not become the Sonics.
That could end up as a good or bad sign for Vegas.
In a sense, Las Vegas might simply be riding the coattails of Seattle into the NBA. If the Sonics are brought back through expansion, the NBA would presumably want to add two teams to keep the league balanced. That would open the door for a second city, like Las Vegas.
If the Timberwolves did in fact relocate to Seattle, then the NBA could have been less inclined to expand with the hole in the pacific northwest filled.
Or the NBA could have decided to expand anyway, and with Seattle landing the Timberwolves, there would be two spots open for expansion, increasing Vegas’ odds.
But without the Timberwolves moving, expansion is still possible.
One strange detail of the Timberwolves sale is that Glen Taylor will remain in control for the next two seasons.
Taylor told the Star Tribune that Lorne and Rodriguez told him, “We got to learn about basketball. We’d like you to stay around and help us run it for a while”.
If that sounds strange, it is. Bill Foley needed to “learn hockey” when he bought the Golden Knights. But he just hired people that did know hockey.
Also, the Timberwolves have made the playoffs nine times in Taylor’s 28 seasons in charge and just once since 2004. Not sure how much there is to learn.
It is possible the NBA could expand within the next two years and keeping Taylor around would ensure the Timberwolves stay. Plus Taylor could cash in on that sweet expansion fee money before he heads out.
And that bring us to the final point on this sale. The reported price of $1.5 billion.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver described the price of $2.5 billion for an expansion fee as very low.
Will the NBA really be able to land $3 billion for an expansion team? Right after the Timberwolves sold for half that price?
Even if you consider Vegas and Seattle more marketable that price increase seems too steep. But maybe multiple ownership groups will be willing to pay to up to land a brand new team.