Allen says he's not selling the Blazers

PORTLAND — Paul Allen was emphatic: He's not selling the Portland Trail Blazers.

In a rare and wide-ranging discussion with reporters on Monday night, the billionaire owner shot down recent talk that he wants to put the Blazers on the market in the near future.

"I have no plans to sell the team," he declared.

Allen would not, however, say how long he expects to keep the Blazers. He says numerous factors would play into that decision, including his health. The co-founder of Microsoft was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy in 2009, but was declared cancer-free late last year.

Allen was optimistic that the NBA's new labor agreement would help smaller-market teams like his that have been losing money. He corrected one reporter about his losses saying they were in the "hundreds of millions, let's be clear."

The labor deal, ratified by players and owners on Dec. 8, ended a 161-day lockout. It included several owner-friendly provisions, like expanded revenue sharing, a 12 percent reduction in players' salaries, and a limit on certain contracts.

The deal also included an amnesty clause which allows teams to waive a player and have their salary fall off the books for salary cap and luxury tax purposes.

The Blazers benefited from amnesty last week in dealing with All-Star guard Brandon Roy, who abruptly decided a day before training camp opened that he was retiring because of ongoing problems with his knees.

In the end, Portland used the amnesty clause to help signed free agent sixth-man Jamal Crawford to a two year deal, significantly shoring up the Blazers' depth.

Roy's retirement was a blow to the Blazers, who at the same time learned that former No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden had suffered a setback after missing all of last season recovering from left knee surgery. The team also learned that forward LaMarcus Aldridge, the top scorer last season, required a procedure to treat a heart condition.

"That's just a shock to your system," he said.

The Blazers have since rebounded. Aldridge will return to full practice on Tuesday and should be ready for the season opener against Philadelphia on Dec. 26. In addition to Crawford, the Blazers signed forward/center Kurt Thomas and forward Craig Smith, giving the team additional depth.

But Portland is still looking for a permanent general manager to replace Rich Cho, who was fired in May after less than a year on the job. Allen confirmed speculation that the two did not mesh.

"Sometimes you realize it's not a good fit," he said.

College scouting director Chad Buchanan has been served as acting GM since Cho's dismissal, but he is not a candidate to fill the job on a permanent basis. Allen said Monday he would like to find someone with experience from outside the organization, and that he has yet to interview anyone personally.

Last season the Blazers went 48-34 and got ousted from the first round of the playoffs by the eventual NBA champion Mavericks. They opened the preseason on Monday night against the Utah Jazz. Allen, who co-founded Microsoft, has owned the Blazers since 1988.

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