A billionaire owner with money to burn, a local guy with a courtside seat that has presided over winners in the past … Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen should be amongst the top owners in all of sports, right? So why is it that when news hit on Thursday afternoon of Allen's rumored willingness to sell his Trail Blazers, the first thought from this objective NBA follower was "good"? Allen later dismissed the report that relayed that two groups were rumored to have talked to the owner about his Blazers, but why is it that even a rumor of a sell would be looked upon as a good thing for Blazers fans?
It's because the Trail Blazers are technically working without a general manager, and have been for nearly a year, despite being forced to undergo a massive rebuilding project in the wake of the retirement of Brandon Roy, the continued injury woes of Greg Oden, and the breakup of the team once built to play around them. Neophyte coach Kaleb Canales recently replaced the respected Nate McMillan, and the team has cap space and lottery picks to decide upon this summer. And they still don't have a GM. And Allen, who has fired two GMs over the last two years, doesn't seem to mind as he slashes costs.
Dwight Jaynes, longtime Portland scribe, has the scoop:
At least two groups have apparently approached Allen, who briefly put the team on the market in the spring of 2006 before apparently changing his mind and withdrawing it. At that time, it was reported that as many as 14 groups expressed an interest in purchasing the team and its arena, the Rose Garden, and were asked to pay a $100,000 application fee to validate their interest.
So it must be emphasized that while Allen may be listening to offers, as he did previously, there are no guarantees he will be able to bring himself to part with the team that has been a big part of his life for more than two decades.
Jaynes goes on to point out that neither potential buyer has any interest in moving the Trail Blazers anywhere else. Along with Allen's denial, Blazers spokesman and jack-of-all-trades Larry Miller actually went on record to point out that he knows "absolutely nothing about" any potential buyers, pointing out that when Allen was listening to offers for the team back in 2006, Miller was "in the loop" and was aware of the machinations. If Allen was listening, again, Miller assumes that at the very least he'd know.
After all, Allen has become more and more mercurial over the last few years, seemingly running his Trail Blazers based on a series of whims while still appearing to be removed for it all. Except when it comes to wanting to extend the NBA's lockout as long as possible.
The Trail Blazers' current status as NBA also-rans isn't fully, or even mostly, the fault of Allen. Losing two significant lottery selections, potential one-day All-NBA types, in Oden and Roy is an absolute killer for any franchise. Especially when the franchise passed on another All-NBA type in 2005 in the form of Chris Paul. On top of that, the group that is running the team right now did well to fleece the New Jersey Nets out of a likely lottery pick in this year's draft (or, at the very least, dumping Gerald Wallace's contract along the way), and taking a chance on Canales as they rebuild.
It's still a worrying scene, though, as Allen's time with the Blazers seems more and more unhinged every season. And even if Allen is going to hang on to his Blazers, wasn't this release from Jaynes a bit of a highlight in the midst of a dreary season?
Or do you want Allen, for all his potential, to stick around? Tough call, Portland.
(Hat-tip to Blazer's Edge.)
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