Multi-billionaire Phil Knight is at the forefront of a $2 billion written offer to purchase the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. The franchise, however, says it is not for sale.
ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Thursday at 2 p.m. CT that the offer from Knight – along with Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Alan Smolinisky – was on the table. At 5:30 p.m., the Trail Blazers spokespeople gave a simple statement in return:
Portland is currently owned by the Paul Allen Trust, which has been overseeing the Microsoft co-founder’s funds since he died in 2018. The Trust also includes the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and is led by Allen’s sister, Jody.
Since Allen’s passing, there has been the belief that the Trust will sell both the Trail Blazers and the Seahawks in time. According to a Forbes valuation from 2021, Portland ranks 13th in the NBA at $2.05 billion. Knight’s offer would be right in line with the franchise’s perceived worth.
NBA Commissioner Addresses Big Offer
Commissioner Adam Silver spoke prior to Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, addressing some more details about the situation.
“This is a hugely complex estate, and although it’s been several years, these things take time,” 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.”
Silver reiterated that the NBA wants the Trail Blazers to stay in Portland, so any new ownership would have to make that commitment.
It seems that Knight would be the perfect new owner to make that promise. The Nike founder is a Portland native and graduated from the University of Oregon. He stepped down as CEO of Nike in 2016 after 52 years, but still lives in the region and serves as a chairman emeritus.
Knight is considered one of the 25 richest people in the USA, with a net worth of over $50 billion. He tried to make an offer the Trail Blazers could not refuse, but it turns out they could. And they did – for now.