Phil Knight, the co-founder and chairman emeritus of Nike, along with Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Alan Smolinisky have made a written offer of more than $2 billion to purchase the Portland Trail Blazers, according to reports. The Trail Blazers released a statement acknowledging a bid was made, but insist the team is not for sale. What’s the deal?
“An offer was made by Phil Knight. The team remains not for sale.”
The Trail Blazers are owned by the Paul G. Allen Trust and the executor and trustee of Allen’s estate, including the trust, is his sister Jody Allen.
According to multiple reports Paul Allen’s will states that the Paul G. Allen Trust which contains billions in assets, including the aforementioned Trail Blazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, will be liquidated upon his death and the assets used to fund his passion projects.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed as much during his media availability prior to game one 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,” Silver said. “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 a complex estate, and although it’s been several years, these things take time.”
Adam Silver says that Jody Allen, the trustee of the Portland Trail Blazers, has to sell the team at some point in the future. He says he does not know when that will happen, and that Allen has been a “great steward” for the franchise and that his preference is the team stays.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) June 3, 2022
The team will be sold at some point as that is a stipulation in the late Microsoft co-founder’s will. When is obviously a little more complicated.
Knight would be an excellent option to become the team’s next principal governor. He is the 26th wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $46.9 billion. His ties to Oregon run very deep, ensuring the team remains in that market which is important to the league. Plus, he is uber competitive and loves winning.
This would be a win-win situation.
Now some of the things that would be causing delays include: The Trail Blazers long-standing relationship with Adidas and the fact that the franchise’s star player, Damian Lillard, is one of Adidas’ biggest athletes.
The NBA is also looking to close its latest national broadcast deal, which according to reports would be in the neighborhood of $75 billion. That would raise the value of all franchises.
In addition, rumors of the league expanding have been spreading in earnest over the last few seasons. So much so that the expansion cities are widely assumed to be Seattle and Las Vegas. If the league adds two expansion teams, that means expansion fees are coming.
If the conservative estimates of $2.5 billion per team are to believed, that’s $5 billion divided among the 30 current NBA governors. That’s $166 million plus to each governor.
Silver addressed the expansion rumors on Thursday and offered a quasi-denial.
“Just to answer the first part of your question directly, that talk is not true. At least maybe there are people talking who are not at the league office about us potentially expanding after the 2024 season. We are not discussing that at this time,” Silver said. “As I said before, at some point, this league invariably will expand, but it’s not at this moment that we are discussing it. But one of the factors in expanding is the potential dilution of talent.”
Jody Allen is a smart businesswoman who loves money. You don’t become a billionaire by leaving money on the table. That’s the antithesis of capitalism. She’ll likely drag this process out, ensuring there is no meat left on the proverbial bone.
The Trail Blazers will be sold eventually and Knight may be the man to buy the franchise. It just seems like he’ll have to wait.