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NBA

The Portland Trail Blazers reject the offer of Nike’s Phil Knight

Nike’s founder wants to buy, but the franchise says no. Meanwhile the NBA’s commissioner says a sale is coming. How does it all end?

Paul Rudder
Update:
Phil Knight, fundador de Nike, quiere comprar a los Portland Trail Blazers
Dominick Reuter

The iconic founder and chairman emeritus might just be the next owner of the Portland Trail Blazers, or not.

The Portland Trail Blazers are “not for sale”

With recent reports confirming that Nike’s Phil Knight and Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Alan Smolinsky made an offer to purchase the Trail Blazers for more than $2 billion, it was widely expected that the move in the scenario would be for negotiations to begin. While it is understood that there has been no final agreement and discussions about a potential sale are in fact still on going, there have been two very curious developments in the story.

On the one hand the Blazers recently released a brief statement which acknowledged that Knight and Smolinsky had indeed made an offer, but it went on to state that the “team remains not for sale.” Then on the other we have the peculiar comments made by NBA commissioner Adam Silver Thursday night prior to Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics. Silver disclosed that the team will be sold “at some point,” however, he admitted that he was unsure as to when that would be.

How did the Blazers get here?

After the late Paul Allen - long time Blazers owner - passed away back in 2018, control of the franchise was transferred to his sister through a trust. It didn’t take long for intense speculation about a potential sale to begin and so it has continued ever since. Though there has been no finalization of a sale, one can see the logic in the proposed deal. A sale such as the one proposed and more importantly by who, would surely tie the Blazers to Portland for the long term. With the headquarters of Nike less than 30 minutes from the the Blazers home at the Moda Center in Beaverton, One can imagine that Knight would opt to keep the franchise in the state.

What remains unclear is the nature of the role that Knight himself would have in the management of the Blazers, as Nike itself has a longstanding apparel deal with the League. Would it be prudent to have the chairman emeritus of the sporting giant simultaneously responsible for a team playing in the said same league?

Where does the Blazers value rank?

As of last year, the Portland Trail Blazers were known to be valued at approximately $2.05 billion. That’s 13th on the list of team valuations according to Forbes. That places the team from the ‘City of Roses’ just below the Miami Heat, who are valued at $2.3 billion, and just ahead of the Sacramento Kings at $2 billion. To be clear, a change in ownership of an NBA team is not a common thing, however, it has occurred recently. In 2020 The Utah Jazz were acquired by Ryan Smith after he purchased a majority stake in the franchise for approximately $1.66 billion. That of course brings us right back to the scenario in Portland, which does not seem to be clear cut. With Silver saying a sale is coming and the team saying they’re not in the market, what happens next is anybody’s guess.

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