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Canzano: Paddles down -- if Phil Knight wants the Trail Blazers, it should happen
Offer submitted to the Paul G. Allen Trust.
The prevailing thought had always been that Phil Knight didn’t need to buy an NBA team. Nike pretty much owns them all. But it appears he’d like one anyway.
“Uncle Phil” made a written offer to purchase the Portland Trail Blazers. It was leaked on Thursday. But I’ve been crowing for weeks that the Paul G. Allen Trust had been busy preparing the franchise for auction.
I hope so.
Clear out the other potential ownership groups. Put the swirling questions to rest. If Oregon’s native son wants to own the state’s NBA franchise, there should be no question who ends up with the keys.
Knight is the best possible owner. Period. Full stop. He has deep ties to the state of Oregon, he’s a perennial winner, and he lives by a “make no small plans” mantra. I’m told by a source that the 84-year old Knight met multiple times with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in recent weeks and consulted with former Blazers’ president Larry Miller about the franchise. There may have been a face-to-face conversation with trustee Jody Allen, too.
The reported sales price: “$2 billion-plus.”
I think the final number could end up closer to $3 billion. Still, get it done — ASAP. Dodgers co-owner Alan Smolinisky is said to be part of the Knight ownership group. Per a league source, Knight’s group may include billionaire Kirk Brown, who is said to covet a WNBA expansion team that would land in Portland as well.
What could stop this deal from happening?
That’s about it. Blazers’ long-time vice chairman Bert Kolde was busy heading up the auction plans, I’m told. Those who know Kolde well worry that he might use the sale as an attempt to demonstrate his competency to Jody Allen. They’re concerned Kolde might try to squeeze prospective billionaire bidders for every cent. But this is a transaction that demands a holistic solution and I had limited faith the Blazers’ braintrust would find one.
That is, until Knight showed up.
The Blazers are a proud organization with a lone NBA championship from 1977 in the trophy case. Since the death of Paul Allen in 2018, the franchise has had a shortage of accountability, oversight and passion. It feels adrift in the sea of professional sports.
Knight is an anchor.
There should be no other bidders. No debate. No questions. I have to think Paul Allen would have been thrilled at the idea of his beloved franchise ending up in the hands of a caretaker such as Knight.
He and his wife, Penny, have a net worth of $43 billion. They’ve donated generously over the years. They care deeply about the Pacific Northwest, and Oregon in particular. This is another legacy move by the Knight family, no doubt designed to tie the NBA franchise to Portland forever.
Put the paddles down.
Forget the other ownership groups.
If Phil Knight wants to buy the Trail Blazers — this should already be done.
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