Nike founder Phil Knight and Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Alan Smolinisky have made an offer north of $2 billion to purchase the Portland Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. However, despite Knight and Smolinisky's interest in the team, the Blazers' current ownership group says the team isn't for sale.
Former Blazers owner Paul Allen died in 2018, and a trust headed by Allen's sister, Jody, has controlled and operated the team since. Allen originally bought the Blazers in 1988 for $70 million. Allen's trust also owns the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, and it's been reported that the trust had been planning to sell both franchises. Wojnarowski reports that other potential buyers have tested the waters in placing a bid to buy the Blazers, and while the current ownership group insists the team isn't for sale right now, Knight and Smolinisky will continue to pursue a purchase of the franchise.
Knight has obvious roots in Oregon, as Nike's headquarters are located in Beaverton, a suburb outside of Portland. Knight's presence in the proposed ownership group speaks to that group's desire to keep the Blazers in Portland moving forward, according to Wojnarowski. Knight stepped down as chairman and CEO of Nike in 2016 after over 50 years.
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Portland is one of the NBA's smaller markets, but the Blazers have always received solid support from their fans. The Minnesota Timberwolves, another small-market team, recently sold for $1.5 billion to an ownership group featuring former MLB star Alex Rodriguez and tech entrepreneur Marc Lore.
A change in ownership would be another one of many changes that the organization has experienced recently. In addition to annual roster turnover, the team recently moved on from long-time head coach Terry Stotts last offseason and replaced him with Chauncey Billups. The team also fired general manager Neil Olshey in December after an investigation into his workplace behavior and replaced him with Joe Cronin.
If Knight and Smolinisky continue their pursuit of buying the Blazers, the Allen trust may have no choice but to sell if they're given a Godfather offer that would be insane to turn down.