Stories came out recently that Portland Trailblazer's owner Paul Allen arrived at negotiation meetings for the first time Thursday. But he just sat there silently, refusing to answer questions, and was supposedly acting as some sort of intimidator for the hard-line owners.
Mo Williams fancies himself a Godfather, but I imagine the owners as the Michael Corleone figure bringing in Allen as the silent Frank Pentangeli brother, Vincenzo, into meetings to ensure someone changes their line. Vincenzo Pentangeli was an honorable Sicilian mafioso and his silent presence reminded his brother of the sin of breaking omertà.
Does Allen have sway over any players, agents, or union reps? Will Derek Fisher come out and say the agents came to him forcefully and said "57% this, 57% that" and he said "eh, OK 57%. I used to be in the playing-decent-basketball business but that was a long time ago."
Will NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter try to get Allen to explain what he is doing, only to have Allen's lawyer stand up and inform Hunter that "this man does not understand BRI. He came at his own expense to aid his peers in their time of trouble. He's not under subpoena -- and his reputation in the Pacific Northwest is impeccable?"
The story goes that Allen is starting to push a hard line now because he wants to sell the team. But this seems a little shaky. And not because Adam Silver says so.
Maybe everyone is hesitant to buy a team without knowing how it will bring in profits, but there is no reason why this should make a huge difference for Allen. If he believes holding the line is the best way to maximize the value of the Blazers, he believes this regardless of whether he is the owner.
This makes me doubt the theory of selling the team. But we are talking about the guy who fires GMs like Al Davis coaches. (One of these GMs, Kevin Pritchard says Allen knew about Brandon Roy's knee problems before giving him his huge deal, too) And we are talking about an owner who thought it a good idea to do a Vincenzo Pentangeli impression.
If this is any indication of how the owners are going to continue to handle the lockout, we may be further away than I thought. Does a guy like Allen—worth $13 billion—really care that much about increasing the value of his team by $50 million? Don't they buy teams to have fun and feel good about themselves?
Maybe doing a Pentangeli impression is fun.