The Timberwolves typically play most or all of their preseason games on the road. Next season, they'll be logging a few more miles than normal.
The NBA announced the Wolves and Mavericks will participate in two preseason games at Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The games will take place Oct. 5 and Oct. 7 and continue a multiyear series of games in the country. Last season, the Hawks and Bucks played in the preseason there.
The league has carried on with this series despite criticism for its association with Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates, a country that, according to the U.S. State Department, has committed "significant human rights violations." Those include torture, detention, arbitrary arrest and undue restrictions on free expression and the press, including criminalization of libel and censorship. The country has criminalized the LGBTQ+ community.
In April 2022, Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the criticism the league received for holding games in the UAE.
"It's a fair question," Silver said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We continue to believe that using sports, using basketball, we can improve people's lives through sport and that, as Nelson Mandela famously said, sport can change the world. I think that we bring our games all over the world.
"I mean, part of why we choose certain markets is of course economics. There's no question about that. It's enormously expensive and resource-driven to bring teams around the world. We also want to try bringing our games to places we haven't been before, and the Middle East is one of those markets.
"We look at many different factors in terms of how we travel, bring our games. But our ultimate goal is to bring our games to everywhere around the world. There are lines we draw, but we're an American company and usually we allow those lines to be drawn by our government. Whoever happens to be our administration gives us direction on where they think it's appropriate for us to operate and not operate."
"As the NBA continues its global expansion, the Minnesota Timberwolves are honored to be selected for the NBA Abu Dhabi Games," Wolves CEO Ethan Casson said in a statement. "Thank you to the NBA and the host city of Abu Dhabi for allowing us the opportunity to bring fans together through the game of basketball."