NORTH MANKATO, Minn. - Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is in the market for his eventual successor.
Taylor told The Associated Press on Friday that he is looking to add a minority partner who could buy a part of the team that includes an option to buy Taylor out after observing the day-to-day operations of running a professional sports team.
Taylor said he has yet to speak to any specific candidates, but made it clear that one of the biggest priorities for him will be a commitment to keeping the Timberwolves in Minnesota.
"I could find somebody to buy the team. That's not my problem," Taylor said at his office at Taylor Corp., a privately held printing and marketing giant. "I have to find someone that's committed to here. It's always best if it would be a Minnesotan. I'm telling you I don't know that's the way it's going to work out. I haven't had a lot of Minnesotans step up."
There has long been speculation about who would take over for Taylor, who saved the Wolves from moving to New Orleans when he purchased the team in 1994. Now, Taylor thinks the timing is right to open up the search.
As chairman of the NBA's Board of Governors, Taylor played a prominent role in negotiating the new collective bargaining agreement that, if neither side chooses to opt out early, would bring labour peace to the league for the next 10 years. The Timberwolves are also hoping state lawmakers next week approve a plan for a massive renovation of Target Center that would make it more attractive for fans and more profitable for a new potential owner.
"Now's the time to do it," Taylor said. "We've negotiated the CBA for 10 years so people can see what the finances are. I think if I could get the building thing taken care of, that would enhance it for somebody coming in. So I can see if I got myself through a bunch of the problem stuff, I think I can bring in a partner."
Bringing someone in would help solidify the franchise. The 71-year-old Taylor has had a few health issues in the past. He said he's feeling strong and healthy these days, but thinks "it's in the best interest of Minnesota" to have a plan in place.
"If something would happen to me in the sense of illness or if I die, then something's in place," Taylor said. "I have let that be known and I'm going to talk to some people about that."
But his passion and loyalty to his team remains, and he's shown no signs of slowing down as he tries to get the team back to being competitive in the Western Conference. The Wolves haven't made the playoffs since their stirring run to the conference finals in 2004. They traded franchise player Kevin Garnett to Boston in 2007 and entered a dark period for the franchise over the next several years.
Taylor has reason to think that things are turning around. He brought in coach Rick Adelman last off-season, Kevin Love emerged as one of the league's top young players and Ricky Rubio energized the franchise before tearing ligaments in his left knee in March. Taylor has instructed team President David Kahn to be aggressive this summer to surround a promising young core with talent that would get them back to the playoffs.
Taylor doesn't want to go through anymore rebuilding seasons. He says it's time to win. Now.
"It has a factor of age," Taylor said. "I want to get on with it and win, also. I think that's a legitimate question. That's where you are in your career and you want to get there. I think that's just another element that reinforces that I'm serious when I say I want a good team put together. And the reason is part of it is personal."