Phil Knight and Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Alan Smolinisky delivered a written offer of more than $2 billion to purchase the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. Knight and Smolinisky have engaged in initial discussions with the Paul Allen Trust currently overseeing the franchise.
Most recently, the Portland Trail Blazers released a statement confirming “an offer was made by Phil Knight”. However, the trust claims “the team remains not for sale”. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen purchased the Blazers in 1988. Following Allen’s death in 2018, the Paul G. Allen Trust took over operations, currently run by Allen’s sister. They also control the Seattle Seahawks – purchased by Allen in 1997 – and a 20% stake in the MLS’s Seattle Sounders. Several insiders believe the Blazers and Seahawks do not factor into the trust’s long-term plans.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver all but confirmed that notion at his annual news conference ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
“I don’t know all the specifics of Paul Allen’s trust. What I understand is that Jody Allen, who is Paul Allen’s sister, is the trustee of the estate and that at some point, the team will be sold… I don’t have any sense of the precise timing. I read that same statement today in which she or someone on behalf of the estate said the team is not currently for sale. But at some point it will be for sale. This is a hugely complex estate, and although it’s been several years, these things take time.”
In any potential sale, the trust wants to ensure the franchise stays in Portland for the foreseeable future. Several groups have expressed their interest with the current owners, though none has the cache and star power in the Pacific Northwest as a group led by Phil Knight. Phil Knight’s longtime support of his alma mater in Eugene and decision to build the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton show a strong commitment to investing in Oregon.
Knight and Smolinisky plan to remain aggressive in their pursuit of a deal.
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