Nike founder submits $2 billion-plus offer to buy the Portland Trail Blazers: Report

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, and Alan Smolinisky, a minority owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, have submitted an offer of more than $2 billion and are in “serious talks” to buy the Portland Trail Blazers, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday.

The potential ownership group submitted the written offer to the Paul G. Allen Trust that controls the Blazers, a group led by Allen’s sister, Jody Allen. Wojnarowski said discussions between the potential ownership group and the trust are “ongoing.”

“The presence of Phil Knight in the proposed ownership groups speaks to its desire to keep the Blazers in Portland and move the franchise forward there,” Wojnarowski tweeted.

Benjamin Mullin of the New York Times and Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian confirmed Wojnarowski’s report.

Former Oregonian columnist John Canzano reported Wednesday that the potential ownership group may also “include billionaire Kirk Brown, who is said to covet a WNBA expansion team that would land in Portland as well.”

Chantel Jennings and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reported Wednesday that the WNBA hopes to identify one or two expansion cities later this year and has narrowed the list down to 10 or 12. The Athletic’s report included Portland as one of six potential markets that could be on the WNBA’s expansion list.

Forbes set the valuation for the Blazers at $2.05 billion in October 2021.

In a tweet later Wednesday, Wojnarowski said the Blazers in a statement confirmed Knight’s offer but said the team isn’t for sale.

Canzano reported last month that “insiders expect the Blazers to be positioned for auction in the next 6-18 months.” He also reported that a sitting team president of an NBA franchise told him it was “unlikely” that NBA owners would allow the Trail Blazers to relocate after a potential sale.

In Wednesday’s report, Canzano said a source told him Knight “met multiple times with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in recent weeks and consulted with former Blazers’ president Larry Miller about the franchise.” Canzano also reported there may have been a “face-to-face conversation” with Allen.

Other ownership groups may be interested in pursuing the Blazers, according to Canzano, including Oracle Corporation co-founder Larry Ellison, who has unsuccessfully tried to purchase NBA teams in the past; philanthrophist MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos; and executive and businesswoman Laurene Powell-Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Knight, 84, was born and raised in Portland. He attended Cleveland High School and earned a business degree from the University of Oregon. He co-founded Nike in 1971 with former University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and retired as chairman and CEO of the retail giant in 2016. Forbes ranked Knight as the 24th richest person in the world in 2020, with a net worth of $47.5 billion.

Smolinisky, 42, bought a minority share of the Dodgers in 2019 and is a member of the franchise’s ownership group, which includes NBA legend Magic Johnson.

KGW’s Orlando Sanchez spoke to Canzano about a potential sale of the Blazers on Sports Sunday on May 29.

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