Sonics fans, you may not want to get your hopes up.
When news of Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore nearing an agreement to purchase the Minnesota Timberwolves broke Saturday, many made the connection of A-Rod’s Seattle Mariners playing career and hoped moving the team would be a logical next step.
However, that appears to not be the plan.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has been adamant the franchise remains where it is when talking with potential buyers, and after the news broke of the pair entering a negotiating window, Taylor told Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune that the team would be sold with an agreement for the team to remain where it is.
“They will keep the team here, yes. We will put it in the agreement,” Taylor said. “At this point, we have a letter of intent, but when we make up the contract we’ll put that in there. That’s no problem. That won’t be a problem.”
But, when Hine at the Star-Tribune asked legal experts about incorporating a “no move” clause into a contract, he was told it “would be tricky to enforce and would have to avoid being overly punitive in the case of a move for it to hold up in court.”
Minnesota’s lease with Target Center runs through 2034-35 with a $50 million buyout clause, 3.3% of the franchise’s $1.5 billion sale price.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote Taylor “has discussed keeping the Timberwolves in Minnesota with new ownership, but Rodriguez’s ties to Seattle and that city’s desire for a return of an NBA franchise could become an issue in the long term.” Taylor will remain the team’s owner until 2023.
Earlier this year, Brian Windhorst of ESPN wrote he has heard the NBA league office has “floated the price tag of $2.5 billion each for two expansion teams in the near future” with Seattle and Las Vegas among the expected bidders.
One of the reasons the Supersonics moved was a lack of an arena that met NBA standards and after Clay Bennet failed to get $500 million in public funding from local taxes, he moved the team to his hometown. Since then, Seattle was awarded an NHL franchise, the Seattle Kraken which led to a renovation of Key Arena to Climate Pledge Arena. The arena meets modern NBA standards.
Seattle still owns all the history with the Supersonics name so an expansion franchise can take the name and reclaim the history similar to when the Cleveland Browns were moved to Baltimore and later an expansion team was placed in Cleveland.
This past summer, Kevin Calabro, the longtime voice of the Seattle Supersonics and former Trail Blazers play-by-play commentator, told NBC Sports NW’s Joe Fann he thought the Supersonics could return within five years.
“I’m going to be an optimist and say it will be inside of the next five years,” he said on the Talkin’ Seahawks podcast.