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Alex Rodriguez group to purchase Minnesota Timberwolves for $1.5 billion, sources say



Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has reached a verbal agreement on a $1.5 billion sale of the team to former baseball star Alex Rodriguez and e-commerce mogul Marc Lore, sources told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

NBA approval of the deal was still pending, and neither side has publicly announced an agreement.

The two sides had entered an exclusive 30-day negotiating window April 10 that expired without an agreement, though the sides continued to negotiate in good faith, sources previously told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Taylor previously said a deal was contingent on Lore and Rodriguez keeping the team in Minnesota. The team has a lease at the Target Center through 2035, but the buyout is just $50 million.

Lore and Rodriguez are 50-50 partners. They tried to buy the New York Mets last year but were beaten out for the Major League Baseball club by hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.

Any sale of an NBA club must be approved by the league’s board of governors, which could come later Thursday. The Timberwolves would become the second NBA franchise sold this season. Gail Miller and her family struck an agreement in October to sell the Utah Jazz to Ryan Smith, a deal that was finalized after board of governors’ approval in December.

Taylor, 80, a lifelong Minnesotan who bought the Timberwolves in 1994 for $88 million to save them from moving to New Orleans, has said he will continue to run the club for two more seasons until a handover in 2023. The Minnesota Lynx WNBA team is included in the sale.

“They’ve asked that I would be there for any decisions that would need to be made. I would enjoy that. I love teaching people,” Taylor said an interview last month. “These are a couple of very bright guys, and I think it could be helpful to the club and I think I could be helpful to them so that they feel confident once they take over 100%.”

Lore and Rodriguez met with Timberwolves personnel and toured team facilities in Minneapolis last month.

Rodriguez, 45, hit 696 home runs over 22 major league seasons with the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. His last season on the field was 2016, marking the end of career that was tainted by performance-enhancing drug use he later admitted to. Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating MLB policy.

Lore, 49, became Walmart’s e-commerce chief in 2016, when the retail giant bought his startup in an attempt to boost online business. Lore notified Walmart on Jan. 31 of his intent to leave the company. He will continue to serve in a consulting role as a strategic adviser through September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Mike Conley staying with Utah Jazz on 3-year, $72.5 million deal, agents say



The Utah Jazz accomplished their primary offseason goal, getting point guard Mike Conley to agree to a three-year, $72.5 million deal to re-sign with the team, his agents Steve Heumann and Jess Holtz told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday.

Conley took to social media to announce his official return, writing: “Blessed to continue this journey with the @utahjazz !!!!! #takenote #nowaybutup.”

Conley’s contract, combined with the five-year extensions for Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell that kick in this season and are worth a combined $368 million, push the Jazz significantly into the luxury tax.

It’s a price new owner Ryan Smith is willing to pay to keep the Jazz’s window to contend open, although last week’s trade that sent backup center Derrick Favors and a future first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future second-rounder and cash considerations was in large part financially motivated.

Conley finally made his first All-Star appearance last season, his 14th in the NBA, thriving during his second campaign with the Jazz. He averaged 16.2 points and 6.0 assists per game with a career-best .552 effective field goal percentage for the team that had the league’s best record in the regular season.

However, the 33-year-old Conley’s two seasons in Utah have been hampered by hamstring issues. He missed extended stretches during both seasons due to hamstring strains or tightness, which also forced Conley to sit out the first five games of this year’s Western Conference semifinals, a series the Jazz lost to the LA Clippers in six games.

Conley spent his first 12 seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies after the franchise selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft. The five-year, $153 million deal Conley signed with Memphis in 2016 was briefly the largest contract in NBA history.

Conley was one of the faces of the Grizzlies’ “Grit ‘n Grind” era, joining Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen to form the group known as the “Core Four.”

They made Memphis a perennial playoff team, peaking with a trip to the 2013 West finals. Shortly after the rebuilding Grizzlies traded Conley to the Jazz in 2019, Memphis owner Robert Pera announced that the franchise would retire Conley’s No. 11 and put it in the FedExForum rafters after his playing career ends.

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Chicago Bulls land Lonzo Ball in sign-and-trade agreement worth four years, $85 million; sign Alex Caruso for $37 million



The Chicago Bulls and point guard Lonzo Ball have agreed on a four-year, $85 million deal as part of a sign-and-trade agreement with the New Orleans Pelicans, Ball’s agent, Rich Paul, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday.

The Bulls also reached an agreement on a four-year, $37 million pact with guard Alex Caruso, his agent, Greg Lawrence, told ESPN.

Ball slots in at a guard spot where he can grow with Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic as Chicago tries to take the next step to be competitive in the Eastern Conference.

As New Orleans shifted more to allowing Zion Williamson to run the point position in the offense, Ball’s role for the Pelicans became that of an off-ball wing who could control the offense in the open court and cede duties to Williamson in the half court. He’ll have an opportunity to run the offense again with Chicago.

Ball, 23, has had an up-and-down four seasons since entering the league as the No. 2 overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017. He experienced some difficulty living up to the high expectations in L.A. but once he got to New Orleans, his game improved. Being among the players dealt in the Anthony Davis trade, Ball found a better shooting stroke with the Pelicans. After shooting 31.5% from deep and 43.7% from the line in his two seasons with the Lakers, Ball upped those numbers to 37.6% and 66.4% in New Orleans.

In 2020-21, he averaged career highs in 3-point percentage (.378), field goal percentage (.414), free throw percentage (.781), true shooting percentage (.551) and points per game (14.6).

He also protected the ball like never before with a career-low 14.5 turnover percentage, while his usage percentage was also at a career high (20.5).

Ball has struggled with injury issues throughout his young career and has yet to play a full season in the NBA. He missed 65 games in his first two seasons with the Lakers and a combined 26 in the past two years with the Pelicans.

The Bulls are sending Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple and a second-round pick back to the Pelicans in the deal, sources told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. Temple is joining the Pelicans on a new 3-year, $15 million deal, sources told ESPN. The last year of that deal is not guaranteed, a source told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears.

Undrafted out of Texas A&M, Caruso is a poster child for using alternative avenues to find a home in the league — first playing in the G League and later latching onto the Lakers with a two-way contract — before signing a two-year deal with L.A. in the summer of 2019.

The 27-year-old wing showed off his versatility last season, playing minutes at shooting guard, small forward and point guard for the Lakers. He finished the season averaging 6.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 21 minutes per game and shot 40.1 percent from 3.

Caruso missed 14 games during the regular season because of health and safety protocols and various other injuries. He also had to exit the Lakers’ Game 6 series-ending loss to Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs with a left ankle strain.

L.A. expressed interest in re-signing Caruso, sources told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, but the Lakers’ offer as a cap conscious, repeat tax-paying team was not as enticing for the four-year veteran.

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Atlanta Hawks reach $207 million max extension with star point guard Trae Young



Atlanta Hawks All-Star point guard Trae Young has agreed to a five-year, $207 million designated rookie maximum extension, his agent Omar Wilkes of Klutch Sports told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The contract will kick in during the 2022-23 season and run through 2026-27.

Negotiations with Young over a max extension on his rookie deal weren’t too complicated after his brilliant playoff run for the Hawks, who advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after not making the playoffs each of the past three seasons.

Young was the driving force behind that success, leading the team to upset victories over the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers before pushing the Milwaukee Bucks to six games in the Eastern Conference finals, even as Young missed two games in that series with a bone bruise in his right foot and a sprained right ankle.

Young, who averaged 28.8 points and 9.5 assists during that playoff run, had previously established himself as one of the NBA’s elite young guards in his three seasons after Atlanta traded back to take him in the 2018 NBA draft as part of the deal that saw the Dallas Mavericks wind up with Luka Doncic.

While Young ultimately missed the All-Star team this season, he answered any lingering questions about his ability to impact winning during Atlanta’s postseason run.

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.

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