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Report: Alex Rodriguez, Marc Lore were planning to cut Timberwolves’ payroll

Timberwolves NBA
(Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports)

Report: Alex Rodriguez, Marc Lore were planning to cut Timberwolves’ payroll

It was reported in late March that the sale for the Minnesota Timberwolves was no more, as minority owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore were not able to obtain full control from Glen Taylor, the team’s majority owner.

More parts of the orange have been peeled as to why the ownership change wasn’t fully complete, though one damning detail was reported this week by ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski regarding the team’s future.

According to Wojnarowski, the minority partners submitted financial projections forecasting the team’s future–and said projections presented a “sizable retreat in roster payroll that majority owner Glen Taylor believed would jeopardize the franchise’s ability to compete for a championship.”

Wojnarowski has been a mouthpiece for front office executives leaguewide multiple times in the past, so the fact he’s getting this leak from Taylor’s side isn’t surprising. Though it’s still fascinating.

“In documents shared with Taylor, the NBA and The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, Lore and Rodriguez rendered a budget projection as potential majority owners that would’ve lowered the Timberwolves’ payroll to $171 million beginning next season — below the projected $172 million luxury tax threshold, sources told ESPN,” Wojnarowski’s report read. “The Timberwolves would’ve gone from approximately a $25 million-plus tax payment to a team receiving a tax distribution of approximately $6.5 million.

There had been questions about Lore and Rodriguez’s ability to purchase and operate the Timberwolves as a tax-paying team in one of the league’s lowest revenue markets, although as minority partners they did approve of contract extensions for Jaden McDaniels and Mike Conley in recent months that assuredly would raise the team’s future payroll, sources said.”

The Timberwolves are tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets for the top seed in the Western Conference heading into the last day of the regular season, marking their best season since 2003-04, which finished 58-24.

Minnesota projects to have roughly $183 million allocated to nine players on guaranteed next season, according to Spotrac. Thus, they would likely project to be a second-apron team, which is projected to be $189.5 million; to pass that threshold, you have to be a contender. That’s how it’s designed or else you won’t win titles and be stuck in purgatory.

If healthy, you can probably slot the Timberwolves as a contender, but the margin-for-error is small with them–and their late-game offense definitely isn’t suited for a playoff setting regardless of who’s on the floor.

In the NBA, it’s hard to forecast what rosters look like on a year-by-year basis, so projecting the Timberwolves’ roster next year isn’t really possible outside of Anthony Edwards. I don’t blame Rodriguez and Lore for cutting payroll to some extent–they should be a tax team, but not a second apron team (yet).

No matter how you slice the pie, Anthony Edwards deserves a contending team around him. Point, blank, period. But this upcoming offseason will raise plenty of uncomfortable questions regarding the roster surrounding Edwards if they flame out.

***

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