Phil Knight says he still wants to buy Trail Blazers, still waiting for team to be available

Phil Knight Legacy Tournament - Mens Championship: Duke v Purdue
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Phil Knight — not a man known for his patience — is waiting.

The Nike founder still wants the chance to buy the Portland Trail Blazers to ensure they stay in Portland, reports Rachel Bachman of the Wall Street Journal. However, the team remains unavailable. More than a year ago Knight and Dodgers co-owner Alan Smolinisky reportedly offered more than $2 billion to buy the Trail Blazers. Jody Allen, who currently runs the team on behalf of her late brother Paul Allen’s estate, said there is no plan to sell the team right now, and it could be years.

Knight continues to try and buy the team, the Journal reports.

So Knight and Smolinisky tried again, according to a person familiar with their plans. On numerous occasions, including earlier this year, they made it clear to Jody Allen that they still wanted to make a deal. They indicated that they realized the price had gone up and that they were willing to pay more than their initial offer, this person said. Again, Knight’s calls to Jody Allen were diverted to Kolde [Bert Kolde is the Executive Vice President of Sports Strategy at Vulcan Inc., which owns the Blazers and Seahawks], and nothing came of the brief discussions.

A few months ago, Smolinisky even sent a handwritten letter to Jody Allen seeking common ground and saying he and Knight would love to discuss the Blazers with her, according to a person familiar with the matter. In response, Smolinisky received an email from someone replying on Jody Allen’s behalf with a familiar message: Paul Allen’s sports teams aren’t on the market.

Paul Allen died of cancer in 2018 and some reports say his will requires the Trail Blazers — as well as the NFL’s Seahawks — must be sold within 10 years of that date, with the money from the sales going to a variety of charitable causes. We are halfway into that window.

In the case of the Trail Blazers, it would be wise to wait until the new national broadcast rights deal — which is expected to double, at least, the league’s television revenue — is locked in, raising the franchise value. Values have already gone up, with the Phoenix Suns being valued at $4 billion when Mat Ishbia bought them last December.

In the short term, the Trail Blazers and their fans are focused on the NBA Draft, where they have the No. 3 pick but are reportedly open to trading that for the right veteran to put next to Damian Lillard.

NBA legend Carmelo Anthony officially retires from NBA

Carmelo Anthony Denver
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For 19 seasons, Carmelo Anthony was among the greatest bucket-getters the NBA has ever seen.

A fan favorite in Denver (at least before the trade), New York and around the league, ‘Melo was one of the great tough shot makers ever to play in the league. With that he had 14 seasons averaging at least 20 points a game and is ninth on the NBA all-time scoring list.

Monday, Anthony officially announced his retirement from the NBA in a moving video ode to his son.

“I remember the days when I had nothing, just a ball on the court and a dream of something more. But basketball was my outlet, my purpose was strong, my communities, the cities I represented with pride, and the fans that supported me along the way. I am forever grateful for those people and places, because they made me Carmelo Anthony.

“But now the time has come for me to say goodbye — to the court where I made my name, to the game that gave me purpose and pride. But this bittersweet goodbye to the NBA, I am excited about what the future holds for me. When people ask what I believe my legacy is, it’s not my feats on the court that come to mind, nor the awards or praise, because my story has always been more than basketball.”

Anthony, whose last NBA season was with the Lakers, is a lock first-ballot Hall of Famer with an impeachable resume: A member of the 75th Anniversary Team (the 75 greatest players of all-time), he was a 10-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA player who also was the 2013 scoring champion.

His hoop resume extends beyond the NBA, having led Syracuse to a national championship in 2003, and he won three Olympic gold medals as part of Team USA (Olympic ‘Melo may have been the best ‘Melo and his 336 points total in the Games are second all-time for Team USA).

Off the court, Anthony was genuine and incredibly popular with both teammates and the media because he was always authentic. He was also active in social justice movements — such as teaming with Chris Paul and LeBron James on the Social Change Fund — an was part of a generation of athletes willing to use their voice and platform on such causes.

Anthony’s next basketball step will be the Hall of Fame.

Are Hornets leaning Miller over Henderson with No. 2 pick? Is Miller hurting his cause?

2023 NBA Draft Combine
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The San Antonio Spurs will take Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 overall pick (despite Spurs GM Brian Wright amusingly trying to avoid stating the obvious in his post-lottery press conference, at the request of the league office).

At No. 2, will the Charlotte Hornets pick guard Scoot Henderson to put next to LaMelo Ball or wing Brandon Miller?

The answer to that question will significantly impact what happens next, with the No. 3 pick in play for trades as the Portland Trail Blazers look to win now.

There is no consensus among scouts about who they would take with that pick. While a slight majority who NBC Sports has spoken to lean Henderson, most have them on the same tier. If the Hornets see it that way, they may want the sharpshooting wing in Miller, who seems a more natural fit next to LaMelo Ball.

However, is Miller showing he deserves to be that pick? From ESPN’s Jonathan Givony on The Lowe Post podcast (hat tip Real GM).

“Every team in the NBA is looking for this type of player. Six-nine, big guard, can handle the ball. Pass out of pick and roll. Make shots off the dribble. Defend multiple positions. Rebound. That’s what people are looking for. At the same time, he is not in great shape right now, so I don’t know how great his workout’s going to be. His interviews have not been great, I’ve been told — both publicly and privately with NBA teams.”

While Givony is very well-sourced, you take every draft report with a grain of salt at this time of year. Everyone is spinning, everyone has ulterior motives. There are certainly teams interested in seeing Miller slide to No. 3 — again, that pick is available via trade — and they may want to spin the narrative.

Miller will have tough questions to answer in his team interviews related to his link to the murder of Jamea Jonae Harris in Tuscaloosa. Miller brought a gun to Alabama teammate Darius Miles, who allegedly used that gun in the killing. Miller has said he just drove a car to Miles, not knowing the gun was in the vehicle. Miller has not been charged with any crimes and has said in interviews with media members he learned a lot from this mistake.

If it’s true Miller is having rough interviews and is not in peak shape — as players traditionally are for workouts in the run-up to the draft — it could impact Charlotte’s decision. It just depends on how they grade out those two players.


Three top-10 draft picks that may be available in a trade


Don’t even pretend the No. 1 pick is available. It’s not. As in, even if you offer the current or one of the most recent MVPs for the chance to select Victor Wembanyama, the Spurs will hang up on the call. Fans may not grasp how high teams are on the young French star, but it is ridiculously high.

However, other lottery picks are available via trade. Not all these deals will get done, the prices will be high, but expect a trade — or trades — within the top 10 picks this season. 

Here are three where there are early rumors and it is worth watching.

No. 3, Portland Trail Blazers

While a minority of the Trail Blazer fan base is gaming out Damian Lillard trades — to the annoyance of Lillard — that is absolutely not the plan in the Portland front office. The goal is to make a bold trade to bring in another star, someone to put next to Lillard, and compete deep into the playoffs next season.

How they get that star is a trade package centered around the No. 3 pick, plus some combination of Jusuf Nurkic, Anfernee Simons, and if need be Shaedon Sharpe (the Trail Blazers don’t want to trade him, but if the return is good enough they will not have a choice). The pick is the star of that deal because it will be Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller (the early conventional wisdom is the Hornets at No. 2 like Miller as a better fit next to LaMelo Ball). If Henderson is available, he has some real fans around the league, and maybe a team is ready to make a bold move for the star.

What the Trail Blazers want back is an All-Star level player at least, not future picks and role players. Lillard is coming off an All-NBA season, but at age 32 his window isn’t going to be open that long. If a team with a star is looking to shake up their roster, this could be the move.

No. 4, Houston Rockets

Houston’s ownership and front office are ready to take the next step out of rebuilding, which is what is behind the James Harden talk (which is real, he may not end up with the Rockets but league sources tell NBC Sports this is more than just smoke).

With the No. 4 pick, the Rockets — or whatever team has the pick — will very likely be in position to draft Amen Thompson, maybe the best pure athlete in this draft and a player with an incredibly high ceiling. However, he’s also raw, needs time to develop and there are questions (starting with nobody is quite sure how to rate the players coming out of Overtime Elite because, unlike college or the G-League, it’s an unknown competition level). He doesn’t fit the Rockets’ timeline.

But he could fit another team, one willing to send Houston the kind of veteran depth and star power Harden reportedly says he wants in the team he plays for next season. If there’s a team looking to pivot and bring in a player who could develop into a foundational piece, the Rockets will listen.

No. 10, Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks nakedly tanked the final week of the season to ensure they could keep their top-10 protected pick (otherwise it was going to the Knicks). The lottery gods helped out and Dallas gets to keep its pick.

Mavericks management wanted that pick badly because, with a depleted roster, it was maybe their most valuable tool to help bring in some veteran help around Luka Dončić. The buzz around the league is the Mavericks will try to trade this pick to add pieces around Dončić (and maybe Kyrie Irving, if they re-sign him). What they can get for the No. 10 pick is up for debate, but like the two teams above them on this list, the Mavericks are not looking for future picks or young players, they want guys who can help now.


PBT Podcast: It’s a Fiesta when Spurs win lottery, plus playoff talk


It’s a Fiesta in San Antonio. Literally. And not just because the Spurs won the NBA Draft Lottery, and with it the rights to draft Victor Wembanyama, although Corey Robinson says that has added to the party along the River Walk — with some Afro-Cuban All-Stars music.

In this latest episode of the PBT Extra Podcast, Robinson and Kurt Helin from NBC Sports talk about why landing in San Antonio is a win for Wembanyama as well as the Spurs, how starting his career under the tutelage of Gregg Popovich is a good thing, and how the Spurs should be patient with their build-out around a franchise cornerstone. Then the pair discuss how the lottery was a win for the Hornets and Trail Blazers, but not so much for the Pistons.

From there they discuss Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals and what to take away from the Nuggets’ dominant start and the Lakers’ comeback. Then they get into the Eastern Conference Finals, where they agree the Heat will bring it and question how much they should trust the Celtics.

All that plus Doc Rivers getting fired, what’s next for Ja Morant and the Grizzlies, and a discussion of heroes and villains.

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