Blazers Owner On Aldridge, Tax, Involvement

Paul Allen has to settle for the title of second-richest NBA owner, since new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer outranks him, at least according to the Forbes 400. Allen and his Blazers have recently found themselves looking up at the Clippers and others in the NBA standings, too, but there weren’t many teams in between Portland and the top last year. Allen is enthusiastic about the direction of the Blazers, but he stopped short of declaring his team a contender when asked after the team’s first practice today. The tech magnate opened up about plenty of other topics, as Casey Holdahl of transcribes. We’ll share a few highlights here:

On extension talks this summer with LaMarcus Aldridge

“I just thought it was very important that we have a direct discussion with LA. It went great. We presented him with a couple of options and obviously he thinks the option of being unrestricted next season and of course looking at a very long [new contract] is the one he chose to pursue. We understand that, but we thought we should talk through all those things. It was just great to be able to sit down with LA and get a chance to really understand his thinking about the team. He’s very excited about the team. You guys talked to him at media day yesterday and I hope you got that sense, too.”

On paying the luxury tax:

“I think it’s been a while since I’ve been in the luxury tax. David Stern used to give me an extremely hard time about being as deep in the luxury tax as we went at one point. It’s not something I’m looking at, at this point, but look, we’ll try to do what we can to be as competitive as we can in the future without causing ourselves a bunch of problems down the road by going way over the cap and impacting our ability to sign free agents in the future and things like that. So it’s a very delicate balancing act to try and create yourself a championship window and then keep developing young players, too. I think if you look at, for instance, what the Seahawks, what we did winning the Super Bowl, that was with a very young team. So you have to blend the experience with young players and develop those as well. That’s something [GM] Neil [Olshey] and his staff are very focused on.”

On his involvement with the team:

“It’s funny, I was just looking at the press guide. Certainly I was excited when I first became the owner. I think now, I’m just as excited. I think we’ve got a great staff here and I’m not quite as involved in the details of things as I used to be, although I still love the draft. We’re going to have a meeting after this practice to go over the plan for the season and even looking ahead to the offseason after that to try and see what things we’re going to keep in mind. I love it and it’s going to be an exciting year.”

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