Stern Backs Trail Blazers Owner's Claim That Team Is Not For Sale
NBA Commissioner David Stern confirmed that Trail Blazers Owner Paul Allen "is not looking to sell the team," according to Jason Quick of the Portland OREGONIAN. Stern: "To the contrary. [We] know all the investment bankers, all the prospective purchasers, because many of them come through us. And I have been definitively told by Paul 'Do not send any to us.'" Stern estimated that "half" of the NBA's 30 teams "have been approached by prospective buyers." Stern said, "We are in a very strong market." He added, however, that none of the NBA teams are "openly" for sale. Stern said that Allen "today is as engaged and competitive as he has seen him in his 23 years as an owner." Stern: "Anyone who knows Paul knows he is a competitor. And I see that more so now than ever before." Trail Blazers President Larry Miller said that he "wouldn't discount the notion" people would want to buy the team. Miller: "It wouldn't surprise me if there were people interested in buying a small-market team or push Paul to sell. But he has made it clear he is not selling." He added, "Paul doesn't have any desire right now to sell the team. And the other thing is -- it's not like he is somebody who needs the money. So look, Paul is as committed today as he has ever been to owning the Trail Blazers and in trying to bring a winning team here to Portland." Stern said, "I know for a fact that no teams are currently for sale. My guess is that Paul will own this asset for many years to come" (Portland OREGONIAN, 5/16).
BIG EASY: In New Orleans, John Reid writes Hornets Owner Tom Benson yesterday "cleared another step toward his final approval" as team owner when the FTC cleared his $338M purchase of the franchise from the NBA. Reid notes approval by the NBA BOG is the "final hurdle Benson must clear before he assumes ownership of the Hornets." That is "expected to happen once a new lease" with the state of Louisiana is finalized (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/16).