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.