SBD/April 20, 2011/Franchises

Paul Allen Discusses Trail Blazers, NBA During Rare Extensive Interview

Allen hopes new NBA CBA helps teams in smaller markets
During a 40-minute interview with the Portland OREGONIAN's Jeff Baker to promote his new memoir, Trail Blazers and Seahawks Owner Paul Allen talked briefly about his NBA franchise and the league in general. Below is a portion of the Q&A.

Q: Let's start at the present and work back. I know you made a point in the book about the league's economic model being difficult to sustain, even though things have stabilized somewhat here.
Allen: Well, obviously we're in the lead-up to some kind of a discussion with the players' union about our future collective bargaining agreement, so I'm kind of constrained, I am constrained, about what I can say. I've been on record many times in the past about the challenge of being competitive with NBA teams in smaller markets. You're seeing that recently with what's happening with the Kings and before that with the Sonics, people looking for other places where they think they can be in a better financial situation. There are substantial challenges and as an owner you just hope for the health of the league and for teams in smaller markets that whatever new collective bargaining agreement we arrive at that those teams in those markets are in a better place. But it's true for all leagues.

Q: You had a sentence in your book about [former Trail Blazers GM] Kevin Pritchard not working out on the management side, which I think is your first public comment about why he left. ... Care to expand on that?
Allen: Obviously you don't make a change unless there are issues, whether they're communication issues or style issues or substantive issues, and so in the end I felt like I had to make a change there. I wouldn't have done otherwise and it wasn't really a time of my choosing but I felt I had to make that decision.

Q: When you declared bankruptcy with the Rose Garden, do you think people had a grasp of what was going on? 
Allen: Well, I think it's a very complicated ... and at least once I tried to tell the people covering the story, you know, maybe you should sit down with an attorney and have them walk you through it because it's complicated stuff. I'm not sure that happened. From what was written it probably may not have, but there were some things written that weren't correct: that declaring bankruptcy was a big mistake, etc., etc. They were necessary steps that we had to take toward getting a resolution, which we finally got. ... Certainly going through that whole bankruptcy phase was very complicated and went right up to I think it was 15 minutes before we were going to make another filing and we finally got an agreement with the lenders to get the Rose Garden back, so it was high-stakes legal (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/19).
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