Taylor has no plans to sell rebuilding T-Wolves

Glen Taylor has heard the calls to sell the Minnesota

Timberwolves.

They’ve come from fans tired of hearing about another rebuilding

effort. They’ve come from some of his own business advisers who see

him pouring money into what they view as a no-win investment.

Yet even in arguably the darkest days of his 16 years of

ownership, a period that has seen the team free-fall to the bottom

of the league, Taylor says he is as determined as ever to get it

turned around. He told The Associated Press on Monday that he has

the money and the wherewithal to see the scars from the latest

franchise face lift heal in hopes that things will start to look

better very soon.

And at 69 years old, Taylor wants all of that to happen

soon.

”I want to bring a really good team to Minnesota that has a

chance to win a championship,” Taylor said. ”My age would be

consistent with that. I’m old enough that I want to do it

relatively quickly.”

The Timberwolves tied a franchise record for futility last

season by winning just 15 games in the first season under president

David Kahn and coach Kurt Rambis. Fans abandoned the team,

prompting the business side of the operations to slash season

ticket prices by up to 50 percent.

Kahn called last year a ”deconstruction” and pleaded for the

fans’ patience as the team worked to put itself in a better

position financially and competitively. Only five players remain

from the team that finished last season with two victories in their

final 30 games.

Taylor swallowed hard and accepted the lower ticket prices, and

is once again introducing himself to a host of new faces on the

roster. He made it clear that it’s time to start seeing some real

improvement.

”I call it holding people accountable,” Taylor said. ”Now you

can say that we’ve brought in a number of players that the coaches

have asked for. So I think you can hold them accountable and say we

want to see the results.”

The Wolves traded Al Jefferson to Utah for cap space, re-signed

center Darko Milicic, traded for enigmatic Heat forward Michael

Beasley and also added Luke Ridnour, Martell Webster, Wes Johnson

and Nikola Pekovic in a drastic overhaul that they say will make

them more a more athletic and better shooting team.

Many of the aforementioned are high draft picks who have yet to

prove themselves in the NBA. But the state of the franchise, and

the size of the Twin Cities market, don’t exactly make Minnesota a

prime destination for free agents these days, so Taylor

acknowledged that there has to be a roll of the dice to some

extent.

”It’s a big risk,” said the man who built his wealth through

printing and agriculture. ”I don’t know how we were going to move

ahead fast without taking calculated risks. I equate that to

business in that when I started my business, I had no money. I

didn’t have a lot of experience. So I took risks on people.”

It is also, in relative terms, one of the most affordable teams

in the league.

With so many young players on the roster, and after sending

Jefferson’s $42 million contract to the Jazz, the Wolves are

hovering right around $40 million in payroll. The defending

champion Lakers lead the league with a payroll near $95

million.

But Taylor said he has not instructed management to cut

spending, and he has a history of exceeding the salary cap to add

talent to the roster.

”Financially, thank goodness, I’m in a financial situation

where that isn’t a handicap,” Taylor said. ”I’m going to use my

money wisely.”

Forbes recently estimated Taylor’s net worth at $2.2 billion,

which is ahead of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and just behind

Donald Trump. Both Kahn and Rambis backed up Taylor’s claim that

money is not an issue, even in a smaller market with an eroding fan

base in difficult economic times.

”He’s ready, willing and able to give us all the resources we

need to put a team together that can compete for wins in this

league,” Rambis said. ”For an owner that is willing to lay his

money on the line in this financial environment, to give you his

team a chance to win, that’s huge. Because we know how difficult it

is right now financially for a lot of people in the world.”

The low payroll, Taylor said, is a byproduct of a young roster

with plenty of players still on their first contracts and a desire

to remain flexible enough to add a star player by taking advantage

of another cap-stretched team wanted to shed salary as the season

wears on.

”There may be a team that wants to change their team and there

may be a very good player from one of those teams and I would say

even today we’re aware of what’s going on in the league and who is

out there and available,” Taylor said. ”We’re paying

attention.”