September 29, 2023

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Nike founder, Dodgers co-owner make bid to buy Portland Trail Blazers from Paul Allen Trust – GeekWire


Paul Allen waves to Seattle Seahawks fans in December 2017, 20 years after he kept the NFL franchise from leaving the city. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

A signature piece in late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s vast collection of interests and properties could be headed for sale as a new report names potential buyers and a price tag for the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers.

ESPN reported Thursday that Nike founder Phil Knight and Alan Smolinisky, an entrepreneur and a partial owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, have submitted a bid to purchase the Trail Blazers for more than $2 billion.

Knight’s deep ties to the region “reflect the prospective ownership group’s desire to keep the team in Portland for the long-term,” ESPN reported, citing anonymous sources. Nike is headquartered in the region, and Knight is famously loyal to his alma mater, the University of Oregon.

In a statement Thursday to ESPN, a Trail Blazers spokesperson said, “An offer was made by Phil Knight. The team remains not for sale.”

Forbes valued the Trail Blazers at $2.05 billion in its 2021 rankings, making it the 13th-most valuable franchise in the NBA, ESPN reported.

The move to sell is believed to be in accordance with wishes laid out by Allen, who died in October 2018.

The Paul G. Allen Trust is now managed by his sister Jody Allen, who has been engaged in the secretive process of carrying out her brother’s directives, which includes divesting many of his far-flung assets to maximize the value of the estate.

The Seattle Seahawks are also owned by the Allen Trust and also must be sold, although the timing of when that could happen is less certain.

“Paul directed that the trust be liquidated upon his death and the assets used to fund his passion projects,” a source told sports columnist John Canzano last week. “None of this is up in the air. The instructions are clear: The sports franchises and everything in the trust must be sold.”

In March, longtime Seattle sports columnist Art Thiel discussed on the GeekWire Podcast the likelihood that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos could purchase the Seahawks — for as much as $4 billion or more.

Allen was 35 years old in 1988 when he bought the Blazers for $70 million. He kept the Seahawks from moving to California in 1997 when he bought the NFL franchise for $194 million.

Knight, 84, has a net worth of about $50 billion. Smolinisky joined the Dodgers as a limited partner in 2019, according to ESPN, and has been successful in commercial real estate and investing.


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