HoopsHype Michael Heisley rumors

June 11, 2012 Updates

The only way that the lease, which runs through 2021, can be broken is if the Grizzlies fail to meet certain benchmarks in either attendance, suite sales or club seat sales at the arena. If the Grizzlies fall short, according to a source with knowledge of the terms of the lease, Heisley could sell the team, but the city would have the right of first refusal to match the sale price. If the city didn't match, the new owner would be free to leave if he paid the buyout terms in full. NBA.com

Michael E. Heisley, the majority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, announced today an agreement for the sale of the franchise to an entity owned by Robert J. Pera. Robert J. Pera is the founder and CEO of Ubiquiti Networks, a publicly-traded next-generation communications technology company. The sale transaction is subject to approval by the NBA Board of Governors, antitrust clearance and other conditions. The Grizzlies were purchased by Mr. Heisley in 2000 when the team was located in Vancouver, Canada. In 2001, the Grizzlies were relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, and in 2004 moved into FedExForum, a state-of-the art NBA arena built by the City of Memphis and Shelby County. Since moving to Memphis, the team has participated in the NBA playoffs for five seasons, including the two most successful campaigns in franchise history, in 2010-11 and 2011-12. NBA.com

Heisley said a contract was signed with billionaire Robert J. Pera. He said it was not discussed whether Pera ever might move the team, but that Grizzlies have an ironclad contract to remain in Memphis until at least 2021. “I have stepped aside from my companies,’’ Heisley, who has been looking to sell the team before, said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida about why he’s selling now. “I’m 75 years of age. I had a couple of medical problems this year (with his heart). I thought the team was in good shape. Fan base was in good shape. I thought if the opportunity presented itself, I would sell the team.’’ FOXSports Florida

ESPN.com, which first reported the team would be sold to Pera, put the sales price in the range of $350 million. Heisley, who will give up 100 percent of ownership, said that figure is “in the ballpark.’’ “I will say it’s in the 3-something,’’ said Heisley, referring to $300 million. FOXSports Florida

While Heisley said it has never come up with Pera about whether the team will or will not eventually move, Heisley stressed it would be almost impossible for the Grizzlies to get out of their lease with the city to use FedExForum before it expires in 2021. “This has nothing to do with either staying or it’s moving,’’ Heisley said. “We still have … nine years left on a contract with the city to stay in the city. I have not yet figured how people … think somebody is going to buy the team and leave. It’s going to be here for a while.’’ However, Heisley did acknowledge, “We can’t make somebody stay here forever.’’ FOXSports Florida

Pera is the founder and CEO of Ubiquiti Networks, a publicly traded communications technology company. Just 34 years old, he was a wireless engineer with Apple before leaving the technology giant in 2005 to start Ubiquiti, which went public in 2011, making Pera a billionaire. SheridanHoops

After two consecutive trips to the playoffs and a return to respectability in the Western Conference, Michael Heisley has found a buyer to purchase the Memphis Grizzlies, according to sources with knowledge of the owner's plans. Sources told ESPN.com that Heisley has an agreement in principle to sell the team to communications technology magnate Robert Pera, who at 34 has a spot on Forbes' list of the 10 youngest billionaries in the world. ESPN.com

The purchase price is in the $350 million range, sources said. A formal announcement to publicize the agreement between the parties is expected this week, possibly as soon as later Monday, with NBA Board of Governors approval then required before Pera can be officially installed as successor to Heisley, who recently turned 75. Sources say that Pera intends to keep the team in Memphis. The Grizzlies' lease at the FedExForum, furthermore, ties the team to the city until the year 2021, with steep financial penalties attached to breaking that lease. ESPN.com

June 8, 2012 Updates

“We’re not looking to trade Rudy Gay,” Heisley said. “We’re not shopping him around. Period. Do we sit around and say ‘What if we traded Rudy, who could we get?’ No. Right now, Rudy is part of the future of this team.” Memphis Commercial Appeal

“Yes, people have called us to ask about Rudy,” Heisley said. “Obviously, we need to seriously look at strengthening the team. But Rudy is the only player we have who can get his shot any time and any place on the floor. You can’t afford to get rid of him and not bring in somebody who can do more. I think Chris has to be open-minded about everybody on the roster. But I don’t know how else I can say this: There is no plan to trade Rudy Gay.” Memphis Commercial Appeal

May 15, 2012 Updates

Heisley included coach Lionel Hollins among the team's returning assets. Heisley sounded baffled by the criticism Hollins has received regarding his rotations in the playoffs. "There's a helluva lot more to coaching than just lineups," Heisley said. "Please tell the people in Memphis to stop looking for a scapegoat because there is none. I have no less opinion of Lionel Hollins. The reality is Lionel has more knowledge about professional basketball in one finger than I have in my body. Memphis Commercial Appeal

"How can people blame Lionel? The way he brought those young kids along. ... What do people want me to do, get rid of the coach? It's ridiculous. You can't go with more than what got you there. He's the best coach we've ever had because we had the best record we've ever had." Memphis Commercial Appeal

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