Jody Allen

Phil Knight, Alan Smolinisky Trying To Buy Trail Blazers

5:14pm: The Blazers confirmed in a statement that Knight made an offer but said the team is not for sale, Wojnarowski tweets.

Knight and Smolinisky have been engaging on the purchase bid with the Paul Allen Trust and league office, as have other prospective groups. Despite the Blazers’ statement, Knight and Smolinisky are expected to continue their pursuit, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet.

2:18 pm: Nike co-founder Phil Knight and Dodgers co-owner Alan Smolinisky are attempting to purchase the Trail Blazers with a $2 billion-plus written offer, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Talks about the possible transaction are still ongoing, Woj reports.

Knight’s presence in the proposed ownership group “speaks to its desire to keep the Blazers in Portland,” says Woj (via Twitter). Knight, 84, is a Portland native and one of the wealthiest people in the world at $47.4 billion, according to Forbes.

Smolinisky, 42, is a real estate investor who also owns the Palisadian-Post newspaper. He joined the ownership group that purchased the Dodgers in 2019, according to an press release.

After longtime Blazers owner Paul Allen passed away in October of 2018, his trust went to his sister, Jody Allen, who’s the current controlling owner of the team. There were whispers and speculation during the 2021/22 season that Allen might put the Blazers up for sale at some point in the near future.

After Portland’s season ended in April, multiple sources suggested to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report that the Blazers could begin exploring the market for new ownership as early as this summer. Some league insiders believe a sale of the franchise could be completed before the end of 2023, per Fischer.

The Blazers have an important summer ahead after a disappointing season saw them finish 27-55, but nothing will be more important than a potential change in ownership. Portland controls the Nos. 7, 36, and 59 picks in the upcoming draft, and the front office, led by GM Joe Cronin, will have to decide the best pathway to become a championship contender with franchise player Damian Lillard.

Blazers Rumors: Draft Picks, Grant, Cronin, Ownership

The Pelicans’ play-in victories last week were bad news for the Trail Blazers, who would’ve received New Orleans’ 2022 first-round pick if it had fallen between No. 5 and No. 14. Having missed out on that pick, which ended up at No. 15, Portland will instead receive Milwaukee’s 2025 first-rounder (top-four protected). That future pick won’t be as valuable in trade talks for a team looking to accelerate its rebuild this offseason.

According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, it’s clear based on conversation with league personnel that the Blazers were operating under the assumption they’d have two lottery picks available, and there was a sense they’d try to use one of them to acquire an impact veteran like Pistons forward Jerami Grant.

“That was a big deal to them,” a Western Conference official told Fischer. “The expectation was certainly, ‘Once we get this pick, we’ll turn it into someone. We’ll overpay to get someone.'”

As Fischer and others reported at the trade deadline in February, the Pistons were seeking either two first-round picks or a first-round pick and a promising young player (such as Bulls forward Patrick Williams) in exchange for Grant. Detroit’s asking price will likely be similar this offseason, though there’s some skepticism it will be met, Fischer writes.

The Blazers’ willingness to overpay for a player like Grant will be diminished by the fact that they missed out on New Orleans’ lottery pick, according to Fischer, who says Portland hasn’t shown any desire to trade its own lottery pick, which will almost certainly land in the top eight.

Here’s more from Fischer on the Blazers:

  • Damian Lillard has indicated to the Blazers’ front office that he’d like to play alongside a “two-way, rangy” wing, sources tell Bleacher Report. In addition to Grant, Fischer names Aaron Gordon, Ben Simmons, and Jaylen Brown as players who would appeal to Lillard, though it’s unclear whether any of them will be available this offseason — Brown, certainly, appears to be off the table.
  • According to Fischer, interim general manager Joe Cronin appears likely to keep the Blazers’ GM job on a full-time basis. However, it’s possible the team will ultimately hire someone above him in the basketball operations hierarchy, like Philadelphia did by bringing in Daryl Morey to run a front office previously led by GM Elton Brand. Fischer’s sources are split on whether such a move is likely.
  • Since the regular season ended, multiple sources have suggested to Fischer that the Blazers could begin exploring the market for new ownership as early as this summer. Some league insiders believe a sale of the franchise could be completed before the end of 2023, Fischer adds. Jody Allen – the sister of longtime Blazers owner Paul Allen, who passed away in 2018 – currently controls the team.

Blazers Notes: Johnson, Allen, Covington, Powell, Bledsoe

Rookie shooting guard Keon Johnson said on Monday that he’ll be out at least a couple more weeks due to an ankle injury, Casey Holdahl tweets.

Johnson was acquired by the Trail Blazers in the deal with the Clippers than sent Robert Covington and Norman Powell to L.A. The 21st pick of last year’s draft, Johnson has appeared in 15 games this season. He hasn’t seen action in an NBA game since January 9.

We have more on the Trail Blazers:

  • The incentive for the Blazers to make the deal with the Clippers was to cut payroll and get under the luxury tax, Jason Quick of The Athletic writes, but there might have been ulterior motive. It could be the first step toward Jody Allen selling the team, Quick speculates. Quick notes that the ground lease for the Moda Center runs through October 2025 and Blazers must notify the city by September 2024 of their intentions to extend or renegotiate the lease. However, there haven’t been any ongoing negotiations.
  • The fact that the Blazers didn’t get a first-round pick for Powell and Covington shows that offers they received weren’t as strong as anticipated, John Hollinger of The Athletic opines. He speculates that the back end of Powell’s five-year contract – he’ll take in $20.5MM in 2025/26 – likely scared some suitors. Additionally, many teams likely wanted to get a pick attached to Covington from Portland, which was eager to get out of the luxury tux.
  • Eric Bledsoe is unsure if he’ll remain with Portland after the trade deadline, Sean Highkin of the Bleacher Report tweets. He was also part of the deal with the Clippers, added for salary purposes. “It’s up in the air. I’m being professional,” Bledsoe said. “Come in and do my job like I always have, see where it goes.”
  • In case you missed it, the Knicks are reportedly interested in acquiring CJ McCollum.

Blazers Rumors: Lillard, Front Office, McCollum, Nurkic, Covington, More

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard will become eligible for a two-year, $106MM extension during the 2022 offseason. That extension – which Lillard wants to lock in, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski – would begin in 2025/26 and would cover his age-35 and age-36 seasons.

Lillard and his agent need Portland’s next permanent general manager to sell team ownership on offering that super-max extension, according to Wojnarowski, who hears that the guard’s camp had concerns about Neil Olshey‘s willingness to recommend such an offer to Jody Allen. Chris Mannix of also hears that Olshey wasn’t sold on tacking two more years (at $51MM and $55MM) onto Lillard’s deal.

Although Lillard and his camp will be motivated to help the Blazers find a GM who is receptive to offering that extension, most of the top-level candidates who figure to draw interest from Portland aren’t enthusiastic about making that offer, says Wojnarowski. In fact, some of those potential candidates told Woj that they’d be more interested in the Blazers’ job if they could trade Lillard and rebuild, rather than extending the six-time All-Star.

According to Wojnarowski, Lillard’s camp is “privately selling the idea” of the Blazers trading some of their current players and continuing to build around Dame (on a new extension). However, candidates for the permanent general manager job in Portland believe they’ll need to sell themselves to team ownership, not to Lillard and his camp.

While it remains possible Lillard’s group will have some input in the GM choice, Wojnarowski suggests they’ve been “thwarted on several leverage plays” this year, including their preference for Jason Kidd as Terry Stotts‘ replacement and their desire to trade for Ben Simmons.

Here are several more rumors out of Portland:

  • The Blazers haven’t begun reaching out to potential candidates for the permanent GM job, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who hears that there’s no concrete list of contenders yet beyond interim GM Joe Cronin. The organization is still deciding whether to hire a firm to research and recommend candidates, per Wojnarowski.
  • The Pelicans offered Jrue Holiday to Portland in 2020 in exchange for CJ McCollum and three first-round picks, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. A deal involving McCollum remains possible, but the Blazers are considered more likely to move Jusuf Nurkic and/or Robert Covington, says Fischer, adding that the team is “presently known to be down on both players.”
  • Lillard has expressed interest since the 2020 offseason in a handful of defensively-minded wings, per Fischer. Besides Simmons, Lillard has also shown interest in playing with Jaylen Brown and Aaron Gordon, sources tell Bleacher Report.
  • According to Fischer, Lillard’s lower abdominal tendinopathy is an injury that has bothered him off and on for years. The All-NBA guard even considered surgery this past offseason to address the issue, Fischer adds.
  • There are several teams with interest in trading for Lillard, but three teams in that group told Wojnarowski they’d want to wait for the 31-year-old to request a trade before calling Portland, since the Blazers’ leverage would be reduced in that scenario. The Sixers have made an offer, but the Knicks haven’t, Wojnarowski adds. For his part, Lillard would have limited leverage to push for a specific landing spot if he asks out, since he still has three more years left on his current contract after 2021/22.
  • Multiple league sources with knowledge of the situation tell Fischer that some Blazers players this season have been frustrated with Chauncey Billups‘ “coaching demeanor,” as well as his offensive system. In the latest Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Ohm Youngmisuk, and Ramona Shelburne discussed the fact that Billups’ tendency to call out players publicly may rub the current generation the wrong way.
  • There have been whispers that Blazers owner Jody Allen might decide to sell her stake in the Blazers following the NBA’s next television agreement, says Fischer. If that’s the plan, there will be even more pressure on the team to make sure its next front office hire and big roster moves are the right ones.

Blazers Launch Investigation Into Neil Olshey’s Conduct

1:50pm: Portland has released a statement about the investigation into Olshey, acknowledging that law firm O’Melveny & Myers is working with the organization.

“We are committed to continuing to build an organization that positively impacts our colleagues, communities and the world in which we live in play,” the statement reads, in part (Twitter link).

6:21am: The Trail Blazers and team owner Jody Allen are opening an investigation into the behavior of president of basketball operations Neil Olshey and the work environment under him, according to Shams Charania and Jason Quick of The Athletic.

The Blazers, Allen, and Olshey all declined to comment to The Athletic on the matter, but Charania and Quick hear that at least one team employee reported potential misconduct.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports has more details, reporting that team employees are alleging staffers have been subjected to “intimidation and profanity-laced tirades, among other bullying tactics” under Olshey. The organization has hired the law firm O’Melveny & Myers to conduct an independent investigation.

According to Haynes, the firm started to interview Blazers front office employees this week. Sources tell Yahoo Sports that multiple staffers have expressed relief about getting an investigation into what they describe as a toxic and hostile work environment that has resulted in mental and physical stress.

One of the issues staff members expressed concerns about was the team’s “mishandling” of the aftermath of the death of former video coordinator Zach Cooper in April of 2020, per Haynes.

Olshey, who previously worked in the Clippers’ front office, joined the Blazers in 2010 and has been the club’s head of basketball operations since 2012. He has faced increased pressure to get Portland over the hump in recent years as the club was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.

Olshey also faced criticism this offseason when he declined to provide any specific details about the Blazers’ investigation into sexual assault allegations levied in 1997 against new head coach Chauncey Billups, calling into question how exhaustively the team actually looked into that incident before hiring Billups.

Once O’Melveny & Myers has completed its probe, the firm will submit its findings to Blazers ownership, with a decision on Olshey’s future made shortly thereafter, sources tell Haynes.

Damian Lillard To Address Report About His Future

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard plans to discuss rumors about his future with the organization after today’s practice with Team USA, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

A report this morning by Henry Abbott of TrueHoop states that Lillard plans to ask for a trade within the next few days, citing a source close to the player. Lillard will presumably address that report at his session with the media. He risks a fine from the league for making a public trade request, so anything less than a full denial would set off alarms in Portland.

This isn’t the first time that rumors have emerged that Lillard might want to move on. He has been with the Trail Blazers throughout his nine years in the NBA and has talked in the past about wanting to spend his entire career with one organization. But Portland has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, including a loss to an undermanned Nuggets team this years, and recently underwent a coaching change, with Chauncey Billups replacing Terry Stotts.

Lillard, who has called the 2020/21 season the most frustrating year of his career, discussed why this is such an important time in his career during an interview with Haynes.

“There are few reasons: One being I’m not getting any younger. Our environment has always been great,” Lillard said. “We’re not losing a lot, but we were eliminated by a shorthanded Denver team that I felt we should have beat. I just walked away from that really disappointed. I was like, ‘Man, this just isn’t going to work.’ We’re not winning the championship, but we’ve got a successful organization. We’re not a franchise that’s just out here losing every year and getting divided. We have positive seasons; we just don’t end up with a championship.

“So I feel like at this point, I basically made the decision that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been. Just like I hold myself accountable for a bad performance or hold myself accountable to make sure that I work my ass off when I’m training, I must be accountable for saying what needs to be said even if it’s not popular. And that just comes with age. When I was younger, I felt like maybe I’ll be out of place, but I feel like I’ve earned the right to say we must do better. We must do better if we want to win on that level.”

Besides suggesting that Lillard intends to request a trade, Abbott also says within his report that Blazers owner Jody Allen may be looking to sell the franchise. If one or both of those claims are true, an already-eventful offseason in Portland will get even more interesting.

Lillard is expected to be available to reporters at about 2:30 pm CT this afternoon, as Chris Mannix of tweets.

Trail Blazers Expected To Finalize Deal With Billups Despite Criticism

The Trail Blazers are receiving public backlash about their choice to hire Chauncey Billups as their next head coach, but the criticism won’t affect their decision, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (video link from “NBA Countdown).

The outcry is related to a sexual assault case involving Billups and some of his teammates in 1997. No criminal charges were brought against Billups, and the case was ultimately settled in civil court.

Wojnarowski says that after talking to Billups on Wednesday, Blazers management conducted an investigation of the charges. Billups’ version of the events in subsequent interviews with general manager Neil Olshey and owner Jody Allen were consistent with what the investigation found and he was offered the job Friday night, Wojnarowski adds.

Portland continues to work out contract details with Billups and is expected to announce his hiring sometime in the next few days, according to Wojnarowski.

The choice of Billups has been unpopular in the Portland media, with John Canzano of The Oregonian calling it “the most pathetic hiring charade in state history.” He points out that the Trail Blazers had a chance to make history by hiring Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, who was a finalist for the job, or they could have brought back Ime Udoka, a former assistant with the team, who was hired by the Celtics instead.

Canzano says the decision on Billups is the work of Olshey, who settled on him early as the primary candidate. Canzano suggests that Olshey has too much power in the organization and is ignoring the team’s history of alienating fans by having too many players accused of serious crimes.

The negative response has even reached Blazers star Damian Lillard, who identified Billups as one of his preferred choices shortly after the team parted ways with Terry Stotts, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.

After being accused by a fan of being responsible for Billups’ hiring, Lillard tweeted, “Really? I was asked what coaches I like of the names I ‘heard’ and I named them. Sorry I wasn’t aware of their history I didn’t read the news when I was 7/8yrs old. I don’t support Those things … but if this the route y’all wana come at me… say less.”

Northwest Notes: Hammon, Billups, McCollum, Wolves’ Offseason

Trail Blazers owner Jody Allen is pushing for Spurs assistant Becky Hammon while president of basketball operations Neil Olshey prefers Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups to be the team’s next head coach, Marc Stein of the New York Times hears. The team is conducting second interviews with both candidates with Mike D’Antoni reportedly also in the running.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • There’s a strong possibility CJ McCollum will be traded this offseason, Jason Quick of The Athletic opines. Dealing McCollum is the most logical way for the Blazers to improve, or at least shake up their roster. Olshey seems more open to breaking up his star backcourt, which has posted a 15-30 record in the playoffs. However, with three big years left on McCollum’s contract, it’s tough to know what the Blazers could get in return.
  • There were a number of reasons why the Timberwolves didn’t tank, most notably to find out how D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns would mesh down the stretch, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. They also wanted to establish a culture of expectations for their youngest players. Minnesota had to convey its pick at No. 7 to Golden State after failing to move into the top three in the lottery.
  • Without a first-rounder, the Timberwolves will look to free agency and the trade market to shore up their roster, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. They’re particularly intent on upgrading the power forward spot to become a better rebounding team.

Hiatus Notes: Dudley, Blazers, Ballmer, Booker, Mavs

Veteran forward Jared Dudley is pessimistic that the NBA will resume its season after this indefinite hiatus, he explained on FOX Sports Radio this week.

Dudley joins a growing list of NBA players and officials who are skeptical about whether the league can resume its regular season. The overall concern, he explains, is focused around limiting injuries.

“Once I heard the news of no more practice facilities, if that goes for a month or month-and-a-half to two months, I find it almost impossible to then have a season because now you’re telling a professional athlete, ‘For 60-to-80 days you’ve done no training,'” Dudley said.

League officials know that resuming the regular season after several weeks of limited training would be risky unless each team is awarded ample time of preparation, much like what’s already being offered in the fall with training camps. Dudley estimates that 70% of athletes don’t have a personal gym inside their home to utilize during this break.

“I’m not optimistic right now at all for a season to be honest with you,” Dudley said. “Unless something happens here in the next 30 days where they open back up the facilities. But how do they do that? Once everyone starts getting tested you’re going to hear more and more cases because it’s a very common thing to get.”

The NBA is discussing a plethora of different avenues to take as this unprecedented hiatus continues, with commissioner Adam Silver open to receiving suggestions from the league’s players, coaches, agents, executives and fans for the time being.

Here are some other notes related to the NBA’s hiatus:

  • The Trail Blazers and owner Jody Allen have committed more than $4MM towards COVID-19 relief efforts, the team announced on social media (Twitter link). The money will assist game night employees impacted by the league’s postponement.
  • The Ballmer Group, founded by Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie, have donated $1MM to community groups in Los Angeles to help during the coronavirus epidemic, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes.
  • Suns guard Devin Booker is pledging $100L through Twitch livestreaming to support non-profits that best serve the needs of the most vulnerable in the community, the team announced in a press release. Phoenix Suns Charities will match Booker’s initial donation, the release adds.
  • Mark Cuban, Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell have teamed up with the Mavericks Foundation to donate $500,000 to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Hospital, the team announced (Twitter link). The funds will support childcare for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.

Blazers Notes: Ownership, Nurkic, Hood, Kanter

While there’s a perception in NBA circles that the Trail Blazers‘ ownership situation is unsettled in the wake of Paul Allen‘s death last fall, the team’s head of basketball operations, Neil Olshey, doesn’t subscribe to that notion, as Jason Quick of The Athletic relays.

“Nothing is unsettled. Jody is our owner,” Olshey said during the Blazers’ exit interviews, referring to Paul’s sister Jody Allen. “She has been fantastic in terms of engagement. She has addressed the team when we’ve asked her to. She was really emotional after the OKC series, that was the validation, knowing how much Paul believed in the core of this group and to see it come to fruition.

“Jody stepped up and spoke to the team in a way that resonated with everybody and struck a chord with the players and staff and everyone there that she has our back, she has a vision for the franchise, she believes in the group, she cares about the players, and the magnitude of what she has had to take on,” Olshey continued, per Quick. “At a time when we needed ownership to show solidarity with the front office, the coaching staff, the business division, she was there for us.”

Allen has exhibited that commitment to the franchise since Portland’s season ended earlier this month, having locked up Olshey and head coach Terry Stotts to contract extensions.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • According to Olshey (via Quick), injured Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is making “great progress” from his broken left leg. While the team hasn’t offered a specific recovery timetable for Nurkic, Quick speculates that the big man could be ready to return to action sometime just before next season’s All-Star break. “Guys can’t believe where he is relative to what they saw only four weeks ago,” Olshey said of Nurkic. “He is a core piece to this roster, a foundational piece going forward, and we are going to drive him. But also knowing we are going to do what’s best for Nurk on a long-term basis in terms of his recovery and his timeline.”
  • The Blazers aren’t expecting to be able to retain Rodney Hood or Enes Kanter using the taxpayer mid-level exception (projected to be worth about $5.7MM), writes Quick. If the club can shed enough salary to gain access to the full mid-level exception – or Hood and Kanter don’t receive as much interest as anticipated – Hood would likely be the priority over Kanter, in Quick’s view.
  • Quick doesn’t expect the Blazers’ three big expiring contracts for Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, and Maurice Harkless to garner a ton of interest on the trade market this offseason, contending that they could become more intriguing trade chips during the season.
  • Former St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds is set to work out for the Trail Blazers on Friday, tweets Adam Zagoria of According to Quick, Portland will likely only hold “three or four” pre-draft workouts since the club has just one pick (No. 25) in this year’s draft.