Mike Conley

Associated Press

Something to watch: Grizzlies minority owners buying team next month

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The Houston Rockets selling for $2.2 billion has other owners considering their options. That includes Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is looking to sell at the right price and timeline.

But the first team to be sold could be the Memphis Grizzlies.

A couple of minority owners have the rights to make an offer on the team this October and it’s possible primary owner Robert Pera may take it. Pera owns 30 percent of the team, the most of any minority owner (making him the primary owner), but Steve Kaplan and Daniel Straus have the rights to make an offer for the team, something broken down by ESPN back in 2016 and updated recently by The Ringer.

At that time, Kaplan and fellow minority owner Daniel Straus, an East Coast health care magnate and the team’s vice chairman, have an option to make a bid for controlling interest in the team at a price of their choice, sources said. At that point, Pera would have two options: buy out Kaplan and Straus at that named price, or sell his shares to them based on the same valuation. Control of the decision ultimately would rest with Pera.

Kapan and Pera have had a feud, which is part of this. The agreement set up between Pera and Kaplan/Straus back when Pera bought the teams says that Pera either needs to sell his shares to them at the price Kaplan/Straus set or buy them out, based on their percentage of that valuation. Pera is a largely absentee owner at this point who could turn a healthy profit selling his share.

There are 20 owners of the Grizzlies — including Justin Timberlake — all with a minority share, Pera just has the largest. Kaplan wants his own team, he was part of a group trying to buy both the Hawks and then the Timberwolves. This is his chance.

How much are the Grizzlies worth? Forbes estimated $790 million (their estimates are notoriously off), but based on what Forbes valued the Rockets at vs. what they sold for, the Memphis number is probably close to $1 billion. Pera owns 30 percent of the team, so we are talking around $300 million. If Kaplan bought the entire 30 percent, he would own a little more than 44 percent of the team.

Right now the Grizzlies are a profitable team, largely because the community has bought into with the “grit & grind” style and attitude and filled the building. However, while the team has retained Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, it has gotten older and will be in a fight to make the playoffs this season. A rebuild is in its future, which could impact future income and the sale price.

It’s all just something to watch. One way or another, there will be some movement in the Grizzlies ownership next month.

Report: Grizzlies consider Marc Gasol, Mike Conley “untouchable”

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The perception among some fans is that with Zach Randolph in Sacramento and Tony Allen sitting on the free agent market too, the “grit ‘n grind” era in Memphis is over and the team is about to tear it down and rebuild. And without Allen (who could still be re-signed, depending on what happens with JaMychal Green, the restricted free agent who is in a bit of a standoff with Memphis) that era does die.

But the Grizzlies are not about to dump assets and rebuild. Not even close.

Matt Moore breaks it down in a fantastic piece at CBSSports.com.

The Memphis Grizzlies consider All-Star center Marc Gasol “untouchable” and have refused to enter his name in any trade conversations, two sources close to the situation told CBS Sports this week. Gasol has been the subject of rampant speculation this summer that he could be dealt, despite being just two years into a five-year max contract signed in 2015 that doesn’t make him eligible for free agency until 2019….

Typically, the idea that Gasol could be available stems from the perception that Memphis has lost momentum and “needs” a rebuild. The Grizzlies, in reality, have made the playoffs the past seven years, and their decision to re-sign both Gasol and Mike Conley (who is also considered “untouchable” according to sources) was made with the intention of building around the duo long-term.

For Memphis, the concern is beyond simple wins and losses, however. For a small market, the Grizzlies may not have a center of Gasol’s quality for literally decades. Other teams can make moves with an idea toward mobility and flexibility. A team like Memphis has to pursue discipline in retaining its stars because of the challenges the team faces in obtaining big-name upgrades. The Grizzlies’ best path toward contention isn’t to trade Gasol, even for a high-value draft pick.

There’s another factor at play: Memphis the city has embraced this roster and this team. The physical, grinding, hard-working style of play is something the fans relate to, and they fill the building. The fans love Gasol and Conley. In a small market, that matters. It’s easy from the outside to take a “they can’t win a title with this roster, tear it down and rebuild” attitude, but that would not sit well with the Memphis fan base. Tearing it down means years and years of losing, years and years of largely empty buildings, and a lot of work to re-connect with fans. Why would they throw a successful business model away?

Gasol has said if the Grizzlies aren’t going to try to find a path forward he might reconsider his position, but right now he’s not asking for a trade. This is a Grizzlies team that won 43 games last season, will not miss Randolph as much as some fans think, will get more out of Green, has to get more out of Chandler Parsons (he can’t give them less), and made some smart gambles on guys like Ben McLemore. The bottom of the West is stacked, but if the Grizzlies stay healthy, they likely make the postseason.

Bottom line, Gasol is not on the block. Sorry Celtics fans. While we’re at it, Anthony Davis is not on the trade block right now, either.

Russell Westbrook wins union’s Players Voice MVP

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The players union released its long-anticipated long-overdue awards, and there are some doozies. First of all, I still can’t figure out what Chris Bosh – who was announced as the “host” of the Twitter-released awards – has to do with this. But let’s get to the actual winners.

Here are the major awards, with the traditional award/Players Voice equivalent:

No surprise Westbrook won both MVPs. He deserved them. Still, James Harden could’ve hoped for a split result like in 2015, when Stephen Curry won actual MVP and Harden won the players’ version.

There’s obviously slight differences in the other categories. I think Green had the best defensive season and deservedly won Defensive Player of the Year, but I also think Leonard is the NBA’s best defender and therefore deserved this honor. I would’ve picked Andre Iguodala for Best off the Bench (and Sixth Man of the Year, for what it’s worth), though that’s a minor quibble. But how on earth did Joel Embiid not win Best Rookie? He was the best rookie in years, let alone this season. I picked Brogdon for Rookie of the Year based on his overall contributions in far more playing time, but there should have been no question about the best rookie.

The union also released several awards without a corresponding NBA honor:

  • Comeback Player of the Year: Joel Embiid
  • Hardest to Guard: Russell Westbrook
  • Clutch Performer: Isaiah Thomas
  • Global Impact: LeBron James
  • Player You Secretly Wish Was On Your Team: LeBron James
  • Most Influential Veteran: Vince Carter
  • Best Dressed: Russell Westbrook
  • Best Social Media Follow: Joel Embiid
  • Coach You’d Most Like to Play For: Gregg Popovich
  • Best Home Court Advantage: Warriors

LeBron winning Player You Secretly Wish Was On Your Team has to be an implicit slap in the face to Kyrie Irving. I’m glad to see Thomas and Carter deservedly recognized.

Lastly, the union awarded a Teammate of the Year on each team:

Dirk Nowitzki won the NBA’s Teammate of the Year – which is voted on by current players after a panel of former players selects nominees – then didn’t even win for his own team here? That’s just weird.

Grizzlies’ Ben McLemore out 12 weeks after foot surgery

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Ben McLemore‘s two-year, $10.7 million contract with the Grizzlies isn’t off to the best start.

Grizzlies release:

Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace announced that guard Ben McLemore has been diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. The injury occurred when he landed on another player’s foot after driving to the basket during a pick-up game in Los Angeles.

McLemore underwent successful surgery and will be out an estimated 12 weeks. He is expected to make a full recovery.

With the NBA season starting sooner, a 12-week timetable would sideline McLemore the first two weeks of the regular season. This a blow both for him and Memphis, which looks like an unlikely – but potential – playoff team in a stacked Western Conference.

McLemore, who never found his footing with the Kings, had a chance to become the Grizzlies’ starting shooting guard. At least Memphis has plenty of players who can play the position in his absence: Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Wayne Selden, Troy Daniels and Wade Baldwin. It gets easier to put one of the combo guards there if Mario Chalmers – who was very good in his last stint with the Grizzlies – is healthy enough to back up Mike Conley at point guard.

Why a trade probably won’t alone cost Kyrie Irving a super-max extension

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Kyrie Irving getting his wish of being traded from the Cavaliers would immediately render him ineligible to receive a super-max contract – reducing his projected max on his next deal by $24 million over five years.

It probably won’t matter.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement allows for designated-veteran-player contracts only to players with their original team or who changed teams only via trade in their first four seasons. So, Irving, entering his seventh season, could no longer qualify if dealt.

But to receive a designated-veteran-player extension next summer, Irving would also have to make an All-NBA team or win Defensive Player of the Year or MVP this season. To receive a designated-veteran-player contract in 2019 free agency, Irving would have to make All-NBA or win Defensive Player of the Year in 2018-19 or win MVP in either 2017-18 or 2018-19.

That’s unlikely.

For all his accomplishments – Rookie of the Year, four All-Star appearances, the game-winning shot in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals – Irving has made only one All-NBA team, the third team in 2015.

Five other players have made precisely one All-NBA team in their first six seasons since the league added an All-NBA third team in 1989: Marc Gasol, Derrick Rose, Chris Bosh, Latrell Sprewell and Larry Johnson. Only one – Gasol – reached another All-NBA team. That’s a small sample, but indicative of how Irving’s lone All-NBA selection doesn’t make repeated All-NBA inclusion inevitable.

The league’s current crop of guards doesn’t help, either. At least 11 players on this list must fall short for Irving to make All-NBA:

The competition could be even stronger if Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler and/or Gordon Hayward qualify as guards.

It’s obviously far from impossible for Irving to make All-NBA if he remains in Cleveland. Irving is a star whose biggest strength – scoring – earns the most accolades.

His All-NBA chances are obviously worth discussing. Nobody mentioned Ricky Rubio losing his chance at a designated-veteran-player deal when the Timberwolves traded him to the Jazz.

But it’s also worth noting that the odds are against Irving making an All-NBA team the next two years if he remains in Cleveland. That calculus surely factors into his trade request.