Grizzlies’ owner promises not to sell team if goal is to move it

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Basically, Michael Heisley has promised not to be Howard Schultz.

Reports had surfaced that billionaire Larry Ellison is sniffing around the Memphis Grizzlies, looking to buy them. Which scared Grizzlies fans because Ellison has been looking for a team to move to San Jose.

There’s a few reasons that is not going to happen, but now among them is Grizzlies owner Heisley telling the Commercial Appeal that he is not going to sell the team to someone who plans to move it. That starts with Ellison.

“We’re not even considering Ellison,” Heisley said. “This team cannot be moved.”

The Grizzlies lease with Memphis for the FedEx Forum has some financial penalties if a team pulls up stakes, plus it leaves the owner open to painful and likely successful litigation if he (or she) tried to move the team before 2021.

Heisley is willing to sell the team, with a reported asking price of $350 million.

Heisley acknowledged that there is one other person looking at the prospect of buying the team, but he expressed skepticism.

“I don’t know if he’s serious,” said Heisley, a 75-year-old, Chicago-based billionaire. “I think I’ll own the team for a while.”

Now, if I were an owner trying to spur more local corporate sponsorship and ticket sales I would need to put a winner out on the court — the Grizzlies are considered one of the better young teams in the game — then I would threaten a sale or move of the team. To see if that would spark local action — which in Memphis it has.

I’m not saying 75-year-old Heisley has just threatened to sell the team only in hopes of driving up ticket sales. I’m just saying if one wanted to drive up ticket sales that would be one way. Decide for yourself what is going on.