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NEW YORK — Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez took in the Timberwolves' preseason finale Thursday night from a suite at Barclays Center that featured several people and plenty to eat and drink.
It was the first time the prospective controlling owners of the Wolves watched the team's game together, but it won't be close to the last, Rodriguez said.
"I think you'll be surprised at how many times you're going to see us together or him or me," Rodriguez said. "This is a really, really important thing for us. This is not just an investment. This is right at the top of our list of one of the most important things we've done in our professional careers."
Along those lines, Lore and Rodriguez said they are trying to take it slow when it comes to evaluating what direction they want to take the franchise. For now, Rodriguez said, they are in "watching mode and learning as much as we can."
That approach to taking over the franchise also pertains to the inevitable decision regarding who they and current controlling owner Glen Taylor will eventually hire to run the team's basketball operations on a permanent basis following the firing of Gersson Rosas last month.
Executive vice president Sachin Gupta is leading the basketball side of the organization, and Gupta figures to be a part of any search, but as Lore said Thursday, don't expect the owners to rush the process.
Lore said he first wanted to establish the organization's three core values, a process he has undertaken at all of his other companies, before the team identifies who the potential right candidates would be for the job.
"We have to build a foundation first," Lore said. "So we're going through this exercise now. MIssion and values. How we're going to live the values. That's the cultural piece. Then the vision, the strategy and then the [organization] structure to support it.
"Not until you go through that exercise do you know who you're looking for, because it has to be a core value fit. You have to know you have the right organization structure for them to fit into."
Lore said that process, which they began over the summer, can take about six months, sometimes up to 12 months. So far, Lore said they have had a good relationship with Gupta, who visited with the pair on the trip.
"I think there's great core value alignment," Lore said. "He's a very smart guy. Been around a long time and excited to spend more time with him, get to know him better and like Alex said, we're in learning mode now."
Rodriguez said they don't want to rush a decision.
"In my experience in 25 years of professional sports, what I've seen is it is so tempting to come and do things right away and try to make an impact," Rodriguez said. "But, from what I've seen it works against you. The people that I've seen that do it best is exactly how Marc is saying it. You come, create that foundation first and then you move after that."
Along the way, Rodriguez and Lore said they are trying to get to know the players and the team as best as they can. For instance, Lore posted a video of guard Josh Okogie playing the piano to his Twitter account, saying: "Learning something new about them every day." They also said they have enjoyed the positive vibes around the team after winning three of their four preseason games.
"It's really important for Marc and I to really connect with the players because this league is all about the players and really seeing it from their lens," Rodriguez said. "How do we make this experience better for them? And what I really enjoy is how they open up to us and they have ideas, and they have a big voice, and we're interested in hearing their thoughts because ultimately they're in the front line battling the game every night."