In his first public comments on the matter, prospective Minnesota Timberwolves co-owner Alex Rodriguez indicated on Instagram that "we will" keep the team in its host city following completion of the sale in 2023.
The comment came in response to a statement from a Timberwolves fan account pleading for Rodriquez and partner Marc Lore to "keep the Wolves in Minnesota." Rodriguez simply replied hours later, "We will."
Instagram comments sections are obviously not binding legal agreements. (What a world it would be if they were.) But this is another positive indication that the Timberwolves will remain in the mid-tier media market.
Current Timberwolves owner insists team will stay in Minnesota
When news broke in April of Glen Taylor's agreement to sell the franchise to a group led by Lore and Rodriguez, the longtime Wolves owner assured the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "They will keep the team here, yes. We will put it in the agreement." He doubled down days later with WCCO-AM radio in Minneapolis, telling the Chad Hartman Show, "We have it in the contract. They have signed the contract to do that."
Taylor publicly insisted, "The real agreement is with the NBA. The NBA will make the decision if somebody's going to move or not move. The NBA will not approve the Timberwolves moving from here to Seattle."
Funny Taylor mentioned Seattle, because weeks later Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press loosely reported, "Rodriguez wants to move [the Timberwolves] to Seattle, where he played for the Mariners.
Nothing requires new orders to keep the Timberwolves put
And, as it turns out, there is reportedly no language in the contract preventing the new ownership group from moving the team once the sale is final. Rodriguez and Lore entered into an agreement to purchase the team for $1.5 billion in phases over the next two years, beginning with a sizable initial installment on July 1.
In legal documents obtained by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski last month, Timberwolves shareholder Meyer Orbach alleged that plans to "relocate the team outside of the Twin Cities" merely have to be "present[ed] to the Advisory Board for discussion," and nothing "requires the approval" of the board "to be effective."
In other words, Rodriguez and Lore could move the Timberwolves, so long as they secure approval from the NBA. Taylor was right about that much. Neither Rodriguez nor Lore had publicly stated their intentions one way or another in the months following the agreement until, naturally, Rodriguez's Instagram comment.
Forbes estimated the Timberwolves franchise's value at $1.4 billion in February. Its operating income for the 2019-20 season was estimated at $32 million, half the league average. Only the small-market New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies were valued lower. The Timberwolves ranked last in attendance prior to the league's shutdown in March 2020, according to ESPN, and they have consistently ranked in the bottom five for gate receipts during a stretch that has featured just one playoff appearance since 2004.
– – – – – – –
More from Yahoo Sports: