There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about Paul Allen possibly wanting to sell the Trail Blazer franchise. There is no coach. There's no General Manager. Brandon Roy and Greg Oden—the two guys he drafted to be the franchise cornerstones—have been cut by the team due to health issues.
If he was going to sell the team, now would be a good time to do it.
Some people are encouraged by the possibility of bringing new blood to the Blazers because Allen is a difficult man to work for. He's as involved in his team's management process as anyone in sports and he wants things done his way and only his way.
And as an involved owner, he has made some very questionable management moves. He fired beloved GM Kevin Pritchard. He let multiple smart, successful executives head to other franchises. And this past offseason, he terminated the contract of Rich Cho just months after he was able to turn Joel Pryzbilla and Dante Cunningham into Gerald Wallace.
But if Allen and the Trail Blazers were to part ways, the Blazers would be losing one of the richest owners and one of the biggest spenders in all of sports. It's estimated that during his time as an owner, Allen has lost—not spent, but lost—more than a billion dollars on the Blazers, according to Oregonlive.com.
Outside of Mark Cuban, Jerry Jones and Jerry Buss, there are few owners that would be willing to pony up that kind of cabbage.
Furthermore, if Allen were to sell the Blazers, there's no telling who the new owner(s) would be and what the plans for the future would entail.
Are the Blazers better off with Paul Allen as the owner?
Portland is a fairly small media market with less-than-ideal weather for nine months out of the year. Neither of those usually make the wish list of a billionaire.
Of the few people in the northwest who could actually support a professional franchise, most either already own one or would not be interested in buying one.
Merritt Paulson, the owner of the Portland Timbers, has been speculated as a prospective buyer should Allen choose to sell the team. Fans like the idea because unlike Allen, Paulson has pretty much let the people he hired to manage the organization do their jobs. But owning an NBA team in Portland would be nothing like owning an MLS team.
The Timbers are one of the lowest-salaried teams in all of the MLS at just shy of $2.7 million. The Portland Trail Blazers had the fourth-highest salary in the NBA this season with a payroll of more than $80 million. To put that into perspective, The highest-paid player on the Timbers, Troy Perkins, makes just over what the Blazers paid for J.J. Hickson after he was claimed off of waivers in late March.
Does that sound like he can support an NBA team?
So if it's not Allen and it's not Paulson, who would take over the ownership of the Blazers?
The most likely answer...probably no one.
If Paul Allen does indeed sell the team, there's a strong possibility the Blazers would eventually get moved to another city.
Don't think that can happen? Look what happened to the Seattle Supersonics. Look what's happening to the Sacramento Kings.
Those were two of the best teams in the western conference through much of the late 90s and early 2000s. The Sonics are now extinct and the Kings are on the endangered list.
Don't for a second think that can't happen to the Blazers.