Nike founder Phil Knight and Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Alan Smolinisky have delivered a written offer of more than $2 billion to purchase Portland Trail Blazers and are in serious talks to acquire the team, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
Knight and Smolinisky have been engaged in discussions with the Paul Allen Trust that’s overseeing the franchise and those talks are planned to continue, sources said.
Knight’s deep ties to the region — both with Nike and his support of his alma mater, the University of Oregon — reflect the prospective ownership group’s desire to keep the team in Portland for the long-term, sources said.
Allen’s sister, Jody, has been managing the trust since her brother’s death in October of 2018. The belief has long been that a sale of both the Blazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks are part of an eventual plan for the trust.
Portland is considered one of the league’s smaller media market teams but has a long history of rabid fan support and regular-season and playoff success. Forbes valued the Trail Blazers at $2.05 billion in its 2021 rankings, making it the 13th most valuable franchise in the NBA.
Another small market team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, recently sold for a valuation of $1.6 billion.
Knight, 84, is considered one of the Top 25 richest people in the United States, worth north of $50 billion. He was born in Portland, graduated from the University of Oregon and stepped down as chairman and CEO of Nike in 2016 after 52 years running the company.
Smolinisky joined the Dodgers as a limited partner in 2019. He has been successful in commercial real estate and investing.
The Blazers are undergoing a franchise makeover on the basketball side, including first-year general manager Joe Cronin and a second-year coach Chauncey Billups.