Associated Press

Robert Pera to keep ownership of Grizzlies, buy out two minority owners

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Answers to the numerous big-picture questions about the future of the Memphis Grizzlies — will they trade Marc Gasol this summer and start a rebuild? Will J.B. Bickerstaff be kept on as coach? And that’s just the start — were on hold for one key reason: It was unclear who would own the team by the time next season started.

Robert Pera, the controlling interest owner, had a unique buy/sell provision in the deal with two of his minority owners — Steve Kaplan and Daniel Straus — where each of those two men could set a price for the team then Pera would decide if one of them could buy his 30 percent ownership out at that price, or, he would buy them out at the price they set. The two exercised that buy/sell option back in October, and Pera was on the clock. Did Pera still want to own the Grizzlies, and would he pay to do it?

Yes, he can and will. Pera is going to buy out the other owners, something he told season ticket holders in a letter to them, the team announced.

The Memphis Grizzlies today announced that controlling owner Robert Pera has sent formal notice to the NBA that he will retain his controlling interest in the team in connection with the “buy-sell” process. This decision was shared earlier this evening in an open letter from Pera to Grizzlies MVP Season Ticket Members.

Pera can afford to do this because since he bought the team his net worth has skyrocketed thanks an increased stock price for his technology company, Ubiquiti Networks.

What does this mean for the Grizzlies? Hard to say exactly, but the sense from sources around the league has been that if he held on to the team they would likely stick with the status quo. That means no trade of Gasol and an attempt to put together a team around him and Mike Conley (who should be healthy for next season) that can push for a playoff spot. It also means Bickerstaff — who doesn’t have a good record as head coach but has been a good soldier helping the team tank, and frankly, it’s impossible to evaluate how well he could coach this team considering the circumstances — has a real chance to keep his job.

Pera is not a hands-on owner and spends a lot of his time overseas with his business interests, although Gasol said he speaks to him regularly. Many of the minority owners in Memphis are not Pera fans (it’s common for minority owners to have issues with the majority owners). However, Pera has the hammer, and he is keeping it.

Devin Booker to play in Suns’ opener Wednesday

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Devin Booker — the Suns’ newly minted max contract player — had been working hard to recover from off-season hand surgery in time for the opening of the season (the original timeline after surgery had him missing the first week or two of the season).

Looks like he made it, according to coach Igor Kokoskov, via Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

Booker is young, 21, and hopefully he just healed quickly. There is no reason to rush Booker back here, the Suns need to approach this season with a long-term view, not thinking win now.

This is going to be an interesting young Suns team with Booker, rookie Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Mikal Bridges, and now with some veteran voices in Trevor Ariza and the newly added Jamal Crawford in the locker room. This team is not playoff bound in the West, but nightly they will be improved and not a pushover.

Portland, NBA community react to passing of Paul Allen

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For 30 years, Paul Allen has owned the Portland Trail Blazers. In that time the team made the NBA Finals a couple of times, was a model of consistency making the playoffs 23 times, and providing a city unforgettable memories filled with some of the biggest personalities and best players in the game.

Allen passed away Monday, losing his battle to cancer. He was just 65 years old.

It has led to an outpouring from the entire NBA community, especially around Portland.

“Paul Allen was the ultimate trail blazer – in business, philanthropy and in sports,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “As one of the longest-tenured owners in the NBA, Paul brought a sense of discovery and vision to every league matter large and small.  He was generous with his time on committee work, and his expertise helped lay the foundation for the league’s growth internationally and our embrace of new technologies.  He was a valued voice who challenged assumptions and conventional wisdom and one we will deeply miss as we start a new season without him.  Our condolences go to his family, friends and the entire Trail Blazers organization.”

Russell Westbrook listed as out for season opener vs. Warriors

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No Russell Westbrook. No Andre Roberson. Maybe no Steven Adams.

This is not what the NBA had in mind when they sent Oklahoma City to Golden State for the second game of the NBA’s opening night doubleheader on national television. But, that’s the reality due to injury.

Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on right knee back on Sept. 12 and it was expected to be re-evaluated around the start of the season. However, with the marathon of the NBA season about to start no way the Thunder were never going to rush him back, national television and the Warriors or not. While it’s less than ideal, getting it dealt with and missing training camp and a few games is better than to risk something worse during the season (or miss a month of the season in a Western Conference where there is little margin for error because of the depth of quality teams).

The Thunder called it “maintenance,” but this is Westbrook’s fourth surgery on that knee, although it’s the first in more than four years. His issues with this knee date back to the 2013 playoffs when Patrick Beverley crashed into it and tore the meniscus.

Westbrook is about to turn 30, has some heavy-usage miles on that body, and just signed a five-year, $205 million contract extension.

Alvin Gentry: Pelicans wouldn’t trade Anthony Davis for anyone – ‘not even Beyonce’

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Pelicans star Anthony Davis said he’s the best player in the NBA.

His coach, Alvin Gentry, agreed then expanded.

Gentry:

If you don’t want to call him the best player, I call him the most valuable. Because if you can trade him for anybody, then he is the most valuable guy. Not that we would ever consider that. Don’t you guys take some kind of spin and put it on top. There is no one in the league that we would trade him for. There is no one out of the league. Not even Beyonce. If we wouldn’t trade him for her, then he’s probably untouchable.

I’d trade Davis for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s also in the MVP race, even younger and locked up an extra season.

LeBron James, Stephen Curry and James Harden are better, older and locked up for longer than Davis. I’d probably trade Davis for LeBron or Curry, though not Harden.

Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jayson Tatum are worse, younger but also locked up for longer than Davis. I probably wouldn’t trade Davis for any of them, though the additional team control makes it worth considering.

Really, Davis is already at the point – as few as two years from unrestricted free agency – trade speculation hits high gear. The possibility of him leaving New Orleans high and dry in 2020 is too great to ignore.

As far as Davis for Beyonce… I guess it depends on your priorities.