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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Alex Rodriguez and e-commerce billionaire Marc Lore have signed a letter of intent to purchase the NBA's Timberwolves and WNBA's Lynx from majority owner Glen Taylor.

Details: The price is expected to be in the $1.5 billion range, per ESPN. Taylor will maintain full control of both teams for two more years, before Rodriguez and Lore take over in 2023.

  • Taylor, already the second-richest person in Minnesota, stands to get even richer. He bought the team in 1995 for $88 million.
  • Rodriguez, 45, and Lore, 49, were part of a group that tried to buy the Mets before the team was sold to Steve Cohen for $2.4 billion.

What they're getting: The Timberwolves have the worst win percentage (.393) of any major American sports franchise.

Data: Sportico; Table: Axios Visuals

The big picture: The T-Wolves would be the fourth NBA team to be sold in the last four years, joining the Jazz in 2020 ($1.66 billion), the Nets in 2019 ($2.35 billion) and the Rockets in 2017 ($2.2 billion).

  • NBA franchise valuations grew 476% during the 2010s, dwarfing MLB (262%), the NHL (192%) and the NFL (179%).

In related news ... Arctos Sports Partners is buying a minority stake in the Warriors — the first private equity investment in an NBA team since the league loosened its rules to allow institutional investors.

Go deeper

Apr 11, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Worries mount that A-Rod could move the Wolves

Alex Rodriguez may buy the Wolves, but he has no connections to Minnesota. Manny Hernandez/Getty Images

News that Glen Taylor could sell the Wolves and Lynx to Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore (who created Jet.com) has fans worried the teams could end up in Seattle or Las Vegas.

That won't be the case, Taylor told the Star Tribune. "They will keep the team here, yes. ... when we make up the contract we'll put that in there."

Yes, but: A legal expert told the paper last year that such a stipulation would be tricky to enforce.

  • The Wolves' lease at Target Center runs until 2035, but the cost to break it is a paltry $50 million.

Context: The A-Rod-Lore negotiations peg the value of the franchise at $1.5 billion, as reported by The Athletic.

  • Taylor, already the second richest person in Minnesota, stands to get even richer. He bought the team in 1994 for $88 million.

Go deeper: For more in-depth Minnesota Timberwolves coverage and breaking news, subscribe to our partners at The Athletic.

This coverage is part of Axios Twin Cities, a newsletter designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Updated Apr 12, 2021 - Technology

Microsoft buys Nuance for nearly $20 billion as it readies deal frenzy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Microsoft announced Monday it would buy Nuance Communications, a software company that focuses on speech recognition through artificial intelligence, in an all-cash transaction valued at $19.7 billion (including debt assumption).

Why it matters: This is Microsoft's second-largest acquisition, behind the $26.2 billion deal for LinkedIn in 2016.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 8 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.