John Canzano of The Oregonian writes that Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen needs to consider pampering his players a bit more to help foster an environment that will be more attractive to free agents.
Allen bought the Blazers in 1988 for $70 million. Players will tell you that what set the organization apart wasn't just talent and good fans, but the perks of being a Trail Blazer. That included travel on Allen's jet, a training table piled with healthy foods after practices and shootarounds, and other amenities. A cousin of Damon Stoudamire used to detail the players cars in the parking lot during practices, and that too was picked up by the organization. Even the mascot -- Blaze -- had a multi-year contract. And while the public giggled at some of this stuff, the players took the extras as a luxurious part of being on Allen's payroll.
It wasn't unlike what Edward DeBartolo did in treating his San Francisco 49ers players to the best travel and accommodations in the NFL. It may not have landed either owner a free agent by itself, but it kept morale high. Those things help. In Portland, a lot of the budget and perks were cut back beginning in 2004, under president Steve Patterson, who was brought in to bring expenses down and throw the Rose Garden into bankruptcy.
The Blazers have undertaken a series of layoffs over the last year and Allen has made it clear he will not spend into the luxury tax unless the team is in championship contention.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter