How Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore’s $1.5 Billion Purchase of the Timberwolves Could Rebuild the Team and Increase NBA Diversity

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Alex Rodriguez is finally about to become a sports owner.

Months after the former Major League Baseball star fell short in a bid to buy the New York Mets, the National Basketball Association opened its property club. Rodriguez joins Marc Lore, former CEO of Walmart e-commerce to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves for a reported $1.5 billion.

The move has yet to be approved by NBA owners, and current Timberwolves owner Glenn Taylor is expected to operate the franchise for another two years as Rodriguez and Lore transition into their ownership roles.

“They asked me if I would be there for all the decisions that would have to be made,” Taylor told theā€¦ Associated Press. “I would love that. I love teaching people. These are some very smart guys, and I think it can be useful for the club, and I think I can help them so they feel confident once they are over 100%.”

Taylor leaves the club he bought in 1994 for about $90 million. It is currently one of the most losing franchises in professional sports and in the midst of a split with its biggest franchise star, Kevin Garnett.

Maybe Rodriguez and Lore can mend the team’s relationship and finally get Garnett’s jersey retired. But the new group will also need to discuss how it will build its organization, who will help lead the basketball side, and what kind of owners they will be in terms of diversity.

Although Taylor is praised for his work in the Minnesota community as a sports owner, he failed to muster great basketball spirits or was too inconsistent in selecting front office staff and coaches.

And for as much credit as the NBA gets with diversity, the league falls short in teams’ C-suite representation. In the 2020 diversity report card, published annually by the University of Central Florida, the NBA received an F in diversity recruiting among team CEOs and presidents.

Of the 55 positions, 50 are white executives, three are black, including Cynthia Marshall, Dallas Mavericks CEO, who also serves as one of six women in the roles. Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas serves as one of two Hispanic executives.

Some eyes are on the Golden State Warriors as team president Rick Welts retires. The team would consider internal candidates, including Chase Arena general manager, Kim Stone. The Warriors did not respond to a CNBC request when asked if they are considering Black executives.

Still, the NBA has a diversity problem in senior front offices. Whether the new Timberwolves owners will help or continue to hurt this problem – time will tell. But if they decide to follow one of the recruiting trends to rebuild the franchise, here are a few names to consider:

The old-new trend

One of the most recent trends in NBA ownership groups is the hiring of player agents to run basketball activities.

The Los Angeles Lakers turned to Rob Pelinka, Kobe Bryant’s longtime agent, to transform the franchise, while the New York Knicks find success under former CAA Representative Leon Rose. The Knicks would be on the cusp of making the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season under Rose.

Agents are closer to players and know this side of the NBA landscape better than most, so the trend is working. But the agent trend is nothing new.

The Phoenix Suns tried this with former cop Lon Babby, and the Golden State Warriors got stripped Larry Riley and donated the role to ex-agent Bob Myers to aid in their championship runs.

Another name to consider is Aaron Goodwin. While most know mega agent Rich Paul, who has become arguably the most prominent NBA agent power broker behind the scenes, Goodwin was in place before Paul.

Goodwin served as Agent of LeBron James when he arrived in the NBA in 2003 and helped negotiate top sneaker contracts. Goodwin was also one of the masterminds behind the creation of the NBA’s G League Ignite team, where young players make money while waiting for NBA draft eligibility.

He currently represents Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard and San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan. Should the Timberwolves decide to follow this trend, Goodwin has the resume for an executive position.

The ex-player became executive

Player agents are a trend, but another are former players with some understanding of the front office. It is currently working well for the Suns with James Jones and Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks.

Malik Rose is another intriguing name. He gained experience at both the G League level with the Atlanta Hawks and the Detroit Pistons front office. Rose now works within the league office and is becoming familiar with league operations under Byron Spruell.

How much power Elton Brand has today in Philadelphia under Daryl Morey is a mystery. But Brand helped the 76ers transition into an NBA Eastern Conference threat and would need to gain more of an analytical perspective to put together the rosters with Morey at the helm.

And Michael Finley is gaining experience at Mavericks, where he is the vice president of basketball operations, though he seems determined to stay in Dallas. Using this trend, the trio could be one of the names that could help Rodriguez and Lore with team operations should Rosas be replaced under the new regime.

Explosion from the past?

And there’s nothing wrong with the old trend, either: selecting a former or current team manager with extensive NBA knowledge and a track record of success. The Knicks took advantage of this trend when they hired Donnie Walsh, former director of Indiana Pacers, to revive the team.

In this recruiting formula, Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri would be highly sought after given his track record and allowed to leave Canada. But Ujiri may not be available when Rodriguez and Lore take over.

That’s why Sacramento Kings adviser Joe Dumars is an old figure who knows how to navigate the basketball landscape. Dumars helped orchestrate the Pistons’ dominance, especially from 2003 to 2005, when the team won an NBA championship.

And right in the Rosas front office sits former Hornets (then the Bobcats) president Ed Tapscott, who landed the franchise in Charlotte’s arena. And ex-Jordan brand executive and Portland Trail Blazers president Larry Miller is also well respected. He helped rebrand the franchise’s”Prison Blazers” era.

The Spurs trend

And Rodriguez and Lore may also want to keep their eyes peeled for the Spurs front office, where team CEO RC Buford grooms deputy general counsel Brandon James, who has an understanding of the NBA salary cap and could pop up as team president in a few year.

As for the Spurs’ executive trend, the Oklahoma City Thunder (hired former Spurs manager Sam Presti) and Utah Jazz (Dennis Lindsey) has served well.

The Thunder endured a stellar run with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook at the helm, while the Jazz currently sit at the top of the Western Conference and pose a significant threat to advancing to the NBA Finals this season.

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