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Nike Founder Phil Knight and a Dodgers Owner Bid for Portland Trail Blazers

Phil Knight, a founder of the athletic apparel company Nike, and Alan Smolinisky, an entrepreneur and part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, have submitted a bid to purchase the Portland Trail Blazers, according to people familiar with their bid.

The offer from Knight and Smolinisky to purchase the Trail Blazers, an N.B.A. team, is for more than $2 billion, and was submitted in recent weeks, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the offer was private.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Blazers said: “An offer was made by Phil Knight. The team remains not for sale.”

The Trail Blazers are owned by a trust controlled by the family of Paul Allen, a Microsoft co-founder who died in 2018. Knight and Smolinisky have been in conversations with Jody Allen, Paul Allen’s sister and the chair of the trust, about a potential deal in recent weeks, the people said.

Knight’s involvement could suggest that there are no plans to relocate the Blazers from Portland, Ore., as has occasionally been suggested over the years. At a news conference before Game 1 of the N.B.A. finals between Golden State and the Boston Celtics on Thursday, N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver said “at some point, the team will be sold,” but that he did not know when.

“Portland has been a wonderful community for the N.B.A.,” Silver said. “The team has been there over 50 years now, and our preference, my preference, would be that that team remain in Portland as part of this process.”

Smolinisky, a real estate entrepreneur based in Los Angeles, joined the Dodgers ownership group in 2019.

Little is known about what Paul Allen might have stipulated for the future of the team before his death. But generally, while an individual owner can sell a team to anybody for any reason, trustees have a stricter fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the trust. Any sale of the team would also have to be approved by three-quarters of the N.B.A.’s owners.

The Blazers used to be one of the N.B.A.’s highest spending teams, and at one point Paul Allen said that he had lost hundreds of millions of dollars operating the franchise. But the low initial purchase price means the team can be sold for many multiples of Allen’s original $70 million investment, speaking to the enduring financial windfall of owning a major professional sports franchise.

Buying sports teams in past decades was often as emotional of a decision as it was financial, with teams often run more like family businesses with strong ties to a region. Over the past two decades, however, team valuations have exploded, revenue streams like media agreements and arena naming rights deals have grown in value, and deep-pocketed investor groups from the world of tech and private equity have bid for teams.

If the Blazers were sold, the new ownership group would inherit a team looking for a new direction after a tumultuous year. Last summer, the Blazers hired Chauncey Billups as their head coach, renewing questions surrounding a sexual assault accusation made against him when he was a player. McGowan resigned in November. The next month, the team’s general manager, Neil Olshey, was fired after a workplace misconduct investigation that found unspecified violations.

On the court, the Blazers limped to a 27-55 record as the star guard Damian Lillard played just 29 games because of injuries, and his backcourt partner, CJ McCollum, was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in February. The Blazers missed the playoffs, but the Pelicans, fueled by McCollum, made a surprising push into the playoffs, where they lost in the first round.

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