Phil Knight of Nike, Alan Smolensky of the Dodgers bid for Portland Trail Blazers

Nike founder Phil Knight and Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Alan Smolensky have submitted a written offer of more than $2 billion to buy the Portland Trail Blazers, sources told ESPN Thursday, and plan to stay bold in acquiring the team.

Knight and Smolinisky have been engaged in discussions with the Paul Allen Trust to oversee the franchise, but a Trail Blazers spokesperson released a statement Thursday that simply said: “Phil Knight offered. Team still not for sale.”

Forbes listed the value of the Blazers at $2.05 billion in 2021, and Knight-Smolinisky’s bid is believed to have reached that range. Knight has a long and close relationship with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, and Knight and Smolinisky have both been in talks with the league’s office about a potential bid, ESPN sources report.

However, several groups interested in disposing of the Blazers in a sale have briefed the Paul Allen Trust and the league’s office, sources said. Perhaps, though, no potential group has the hidden power and stardom in the Pacific Northwest as an effort led by Phil Knight.

Sources said Knight’s deep ties to the region — with support from Nike and his support for his university, University of Oregon — reflect the ownership group’s potential desire to keep the team in Portland for the long-term.

Allen’s sister, Jodi, has been running the fund since her brother’s death in October 2018. It has long been believed that sales of the Blazers and NFL Seattle Seahawks are part of an eventual plan for the trust.

Portland is one of the league’s youngest media markets, but the team has a long history of supporting rabid fans and being successful in the regular season and games. Forbes rating considers the Blazers to be the 13th most valuable franchise in the NBA.

Another small-market team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, was recently sold for $1.6 billion.

Knight, at 84 years old, is one of the 25 richest people in the United States, with a northern fortune of $50 billion. Born in Portland, Oregon, he resigned as Chairman and CEO of Nike in 2016 after 52 years running the company.

Smolinisky joined Dodgers as a limited partner in 2019. He has been successful in commercial real estate and investment.

The Blazers are undergoing a franchise revamp in the basketball side that includes new general manager Joe Cronin and Chauncey Billups entering their second season as head coach.


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