Why Adam Silver is in awkward spot in A-Rod-Timberwolves dispute: sources

When a massive dispute takes place in the NBA ownership ranks, one would expect the league office to be the referee.

However, it’s been over a week since Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor pulled the rug on transferring the controlling stake in the team to Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore, which had been the plan for three years.

The NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver have not only not issued any statement on the matter, but there have also been no leaks about where they stand.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been silent on the Timberwolves ownership dispute between Glen Taylor and A-Rod/Marc Lore. Getty Images

It’s been a silent neutrality from 645 Fifth Ave. for eight days and counting as the future ownership of an ascending team on the court is in murky waters.

The NBA owners meeting is next week and this topic is sure to be discussed, at least behind closed doors.

There have been differing points of view in league circles as to why the league has gone radio silent.

“It feels like one can read into Silver being neutral,” a source close to the NBA said, believing it indicates that perhaps he believes Lore and A-Rod have a decent legal argument.

Although the NBA doesn’t typically take positions in ownership disputes, Silver could still be tilting the scales to help Taylor but is not.

“If Glen had a strong legal position, I think Adam would be crushing Lore now,” the source close to the NBA said.

But not everyone shared that opinion.

Timberwolves owners Marc Lore, left, and Alex Rodriguez watch during the first half of an NBA basketball game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns. AP

A second source said he has heard on good authority that Lore and A-Rod did not have the money in time to meet Taylor’s March 27 deadline so believes Taylor was within his rights to terminate the deal.

“I don’t think Marc and A-Rod lived up to the letter of the contract,” that source said.

Regardless, Silver is in an uncomfortable position because of his ties to the Timberwolves owner.

Taylor, who had been the outgoing owner, has been known as one of the “several” owners closest to Silver, sources told The Post.

Now on one side is an owner that has been a close confidante to Silver for quite some time, and on the other hand it is in the best interest of the collective of owners that teams change hands gracefully in sales.

Taylor was chair of the board of governors under Commissioner David Stern from 2008-12, including during the 2011 lockout, and once Silver was named Commissioner he became chair again between 2014-17.

Taylor has been a vocal Silver backer.

“I cannot think of one time when they were out of step visibly,” the source close to the NBA said.

An NBA spokesperson declined to comment to The Post for this story.

During NBA owners meetings, Silver and Taylor would always see eye-to-eye, including in early 2014 when the NBA was somewhat patient with Clippers Owner Donald Sterling after he made racist comments and did its own investigation before forcing Sterling to sell, one source said.

The Athletic reported in 2017, after Taylor concluded his second stint as chair, that the owner proudly displayed a plaque on the desk in his office commemorating his “exemplary service” to the league.

Glen Taylor announced earlier last week that the Timberwolves were no longer for sale. AP

Lore and A-Rod have told several media outlets they delivered $520 million to the NBA to lift their stake in the team from 36 to 80 percent by the March 27 deadline and had the right automatically to extend the purchase agreement, since they were just waiting for NBA approval.

There is a lot of money at stake since Lore and A-Rod agreed to buy the team in 2021 in a three-step transaction at a $1.5 billion valuation, and it is now worth roughly $3 billion.

The Post reported exclusively last week that Lore raised the majority of the first two rounds of capital, and that Lore left the final round up to A-Rod.

A-Rod had hoped to raise a large amount from the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, but the NBA nixed that idea at the last minute.

The NBA said Carlyle had to divest itself from an unrelated investment that involved NBA players, two sources said, and it refused in the end to do so.

Taylor and A-Rod/Lore had previously agreed that disputes such as these would be resolved in arbitration.

A source told The Post that Taylor got “cold feet” over the sale, given that the franchise is worth about $3 billion now as compared to the $1.5 billion he agreed to sell it for, and that the team has a very bright future.

This assertion was seemingly confirmed when A-Rod and Lore accused Taylor of having “seller’s remorse.”

The Post later reported that a source close to Taylor attributed the rug-pull partly to the fear that A-Rod and Lore might struggle to keep the team’s core intact as luxury tax implications creep up on the young, talented roster.

Neither Lore or A-Rod are considered mega-billionaire-rich and having had trouble meeting deadlines in raising the last round of financing might have shown that they cannot afford to bankroll what will soon be a money-losing team, the source close to Taylor believed.

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