Sources: A-Rod, Lore eyed Wolves payroll cuts, concerning Taylor

Woj: Proposed payroll cuts contributed to Wolves' ownership dispute (1:43)

Adrian Wojnarowski reports on Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore's plans to make payroll cuts to the Timberwolves and how it factored into Glenn Taylor voiding the deal. (1:43)

As part of a failed process to assume majority ownership, Minnesota Timberwolves minority partners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez submitted financial projections forecasting a sizable retreat in roster payroll that majority owner Glen Taylor believed would jeopardize the franchise's ability to compete for a championship, sources told ESPN.

In documents shared with Taylor, the NBA and The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, Lore and Rodriguez rendered a budget projection as potential majority owners that would've lowered the Timberwolves' payroll to $171 million beginning next season -- below the projected $172 million luxury tax threshold, sources told ESPN. The Timberwolves would've gone from approximately a $25 million-plus tax payment to a team receiving a tax distribution of approximately $6.5 million.

After decades of futility, the Timberwolves are vying for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, and Lore and Rodriguez's cost-cutting projections were among the concerns that led Taylor to void a contract that would've finalized the sale of the Timberwolves and WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, sources told ESPN.

Through separate spokespersons, both Taylor and the Lore-Rodriguez group declined comment. In a recent memo, the NBA instructed both sides to refrain from publicly discussing the dispute, sources said.

At the NBA's Board of Governors meeting Wednesday in New York, commissioner Adam Silver told reporters that the league office had no role in the ownership dispute and that the original sale agreement included a mediation plan for such a situation.

Taylor's decision ended a three-year process that would've concluded with Lore and Rodriguez assuming majority control of the organization this spring.

Minnesota is on course to have the league's fourth-highest payroll for the 2024-25 season at $198 million -- including three maximum contract players -- and it's difficult to map out a roster with that deep of a cut without trading one of the franchise's key players.

Their payroll will place them $27 million over the luxury tax and would exceed the second apron once free agency begins in July. As owner, Taylor has paid the luxury tax in four different seasons, including most recently in 2019-20. He has paid a total of $25 million in luxury tax in his span as owner.

There had been questions about Lore and Rodriguez's ability to purchase and operate the Timberwolves as a tax-paying team in one of the league's lowest revenue markets, although as minority partners they did approve of contract extensions for Jaden McDaniels and Mike Conley in recent months that assuredly would raise the team's future payroll, sources said.

The Rodriguez and Lore group made an initial two payments to purchase 36% of the Timberwolves and Lynx in 2022 and 2023, and said they had filed paperwork to buy an additional 40% for approximately $600 million that would give them control of the franchises by the end of March. In the months leading up to the deadline, they searched for ways to raise capital, sources told ESPN.

In a recent announcement that he had voided the contract, Taylor said Lore and Rodriguez hadn't transferred the remaining money by a March 27 deadline. Lore and Rodriguez said they could've closed by then, but the NBA hadn't formally approved their purchase.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Bobby Marks contributed to this report.