HoopsHype Robert Pera rumors

February 2, 2013 Updates

The Grizzlies' new owner is defending the trade of his team's leading scorer and other moves to dump salary, saying he believes they can do some ''serious damage'' in the playoffs with the changes. Robert Pera took part in a web chat Friday with Memphis' season ticket holders along with chief executive officer Jason Levien, and Pera's first question was about whether the new ownership group has the financial ability to run the team. ''This team was built for playoff basketball,'' Pera wrote. ''In playoff basketball, getting defensive stops and creating high percentage scoring opportunities under pressure becomes much more important. ... And that is what this team can do best.'' Yahoo! Sports

'We made the second trade because we feel it allows us to put a more competitive product on the floor this season and in future seasons,'' Levien wrote. ''We got better. We also picked up a valuable draft pick as well as trade exceptions that will allow us to be opportunistic in going on the offensive moving forward.'' Pera wrote that NBA teams have won titles with superstars and without, and he believes the Grizzlies as they are now built potentially can become the next example. ''Between Tayshuan's winning pedigree, the league's best perimeter defense, and Mark/Zbo returning back to the focal point of the offense; I believe we are a far more dangerous playoff team today,'' Pera wrote of Marc Gasol and All-Star forward Zach Randolph. Yahoo! Sports

January 29, 2013 Updates

With more than three months on the job, Levien has begun to transform the Grizzlies with some unexpected additions to his front office staff, tapping long-time business associate Stu Lash to oversee player personnel and long-time sports reporter and advanced analytics guru John Hollinger, formerly from ESPN, as his vice president of basketball operations. "Both guys needed to be recruited a little bit," Levien told USA Today Sports. "I put my agent hat on, but I think both guys were excited." USA Today Sports

Hiring Lash seemed almost inevitable, as he and Levien have a long history together. However, hiring Hollinger away from ESPN was something of a surprise. "I always read his stuff so I sort of knew him from reading his stuff and saying, 'This guy is smart and he writes really well,'" Levien said. "We spent time at the Sloan Conference together (an annual sports analytics conference held by MIT in Boston), and I liked him even more. "I leaned on John when I was an agent a few times to give me advice on how I can use analytics in promoting my clients through negotiation and even in the draft. I understood what he was looking at and what he saw and how that equated to what I was looking at and what I saw. And I said, 'This guy really gets it, he's really sharp.'" USA Today Sports

"If you look at the dynamic of our group, with Jason making the final decision," Lash says, "Chris brings a tremendous amount of experience and he's been here, he's done a great job with the foundation and the core of what this team is. John and myself, having different backgrounds and the transition early on was not very difficult. Chris was very open on how he got to this point with this team and it's been good." It's this kind of synergy of information that Levien envisioned when he brought together his front office. "We definitely have a plan and vision for what the future here looks like," Hollinger said. "I'm sure you want me to share all of it, but unfortunately I can't really disclose USA Today Sports

January 22, 2013 Updates

However, it is important to the Grizzlies because it saves them roughly $6.2 million in salary, getting them below the $70.3 million luxury tax threshold and helping them avoid tax payments after the season. The Grizzlies, recently purchased by Robert Pera, who has restructured the front office, had been shopping forward Rudy Gay in an effort to trim salary. This might be a sign that Memphis is willing to keep Gay and see how the season plays out. USA Today Sports

January 17, 2013 Updates
December 14, 2012 Updates

Sources with knowledge of the Grizzlies' thinking insist that this week's hires of ESPN's John Hollinger and veteran agent Stu Lash don't change the status of Grizz general manager Chris Wallace. All three will report to Grizz CEO/managing partner Jason Levien, who has the final say on basketball matters in Memphis under new controlling owner Robert Pera. Yet sources likewise insist that Hollinger will indeed have a prominent voice in personnel matters beyond merely supplying statistical analysis to support decisions. ESPN.com

November 22, 2012 Updates

Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Perra hopped a plane from Taiwan to watch Dongguan Leopard practice on Tuesday. The 34-year-old computer billionaire wasn't in town to soak up the ambience at Dalang Stadium. He was there to check out 20-year-old Li Muhao, the 2.16 meter, 20-year-old who already has the attention of NBA teams despite the marginal impact he made in his CBA debut last season. "Last year, he scored 20 points for the whole year," said Leopard coach Brian Goorjian. "So he suited up and didn't play, so this year is like his first. "He has a bit of an ankle (injury) right now, but he's really springy, really athletic." China Daily

November 8, 2012 Updates

The Pera-led group closed on the $377 million purchase of the franchise from Michael Heisley late last month. A source told The Commercial Appeal Monday night that the group used $125 million available to NBA teams through the league's credit facility and another $50 million in bank financing to close the deal. But that's nothing new in the NBA. Nineteen of the league's 30 teams use the league's $2.3 billion credit facility, and many use it to the $125 million per-franchise maximum. The facility is a pool of money banks provide through the league and offer at lower rates because of the NBA's credit worthiness and other guaranteed future revenue factors such as its long-term television deal. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Franchises are also allowed up to $50 million in financing provided outside of the NBA's facility. The financing is a significant chunk of the purchase, but it isn't known precisely how the rest of the equity is divvied up since Pera's group has said it would not disclose ownership percentages. As controlling owner and chairman, Pera is the largest shareholder. Sources told The Commercial Appeal last month that Pera will own less than 50 percent of the franchise; league rules require controlling owners to own at least 15 percent. Twenty-four people or entities are listed as partners. Memphis Commercial Appeal

November 6, 2012 Updates

Hollins first met Griz chairman Robert Pera Monday night before the 103-94 win over Utah. CEO Jason Levien had lunch with Hollins Sunday, and now they are in the get-to-know-you stage. Levien said he "walked away so impressed, which is hard not to be." Hollins understands that there is a process to advance toward possible contract negotiations. "I didn't get to know (former owner) Mike Heisley in a day," Hollins said. "(Jason) is a nice guy. He's a smart guy and I enjoyed our conversation." Memphis Commercial Appeal

November 5, 2012 Updates

Pera said he wants to make FedExForum the most technologically advanced arena in the country. He said he wants to use advanced analytics to evaluate players, like the sort used in "Moneyball." He said he wants to build a player-centric culture in Memphis, so players will think of Memphis as a destination. And, yes, at this last one, I rolled my eyes, too. But that's the thing about youth. It tends to dream big. That's supposed to be a good thing, isn't it? Besides, Pera doesn't come across as rash and impulsive, but thoughtful and deliberate. He picked Levien to essentially run the franchise, on the business and basketball sides. The two of them won't make any decisions about Chris Wallace, Greg Campbell or Lionel Hollins until they have a chance to see how the team operates. "We were focused on closing the deal," he said. "We want to learn more." Memphis Commercial Appeal

Jason Levien remembers the first time he played basketball with Robert Pera. They were in Taiwan. They decided to go to opposite ends of the court to warm up. "I look down there, and he's throwing it down," said Levien. Yes, Memphians. Your new Grizzlies owner can dunk. He's 6-3 and can get off the deck. He looks like he could be starting at forward for Rhodes or CBU. Now he's sitting in a luxury box in FedExForum, talking about his plans for his new NBA team. Someone asks him if he's met any of the Grizzlies players yet. "I met some, when we came here in March," he said. "But they might have thought I was Heisley's grandson." Memphis Commercial Appeal

Memphis Grizzlies Chairman Robert Pera announced today that he has named seasoned sports executive Jason Levien as the new Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner of Memphis Basketball, LLC, which operates the Memphis Grizzlies and FedExForum. In this role, Levien will have leadership responsibility for the entire organization; serve as the ownership group's Managing Partner and as an Alternate NBA Governor. “Jason and I share a vision for building a world-class team on and off-the-court,” Grizzlies Chairman Robert Pera said. “He has my complete trust, confidence and support in how best to lead our organization's efforts." Sulia

Levien will serve as CEO of Memphis Basketball LLC -- an entity that owns the Grizzlies and will operate FedExForum. Levien is expected to supplant general manager Chris Wallace as the primary decision maker for basketball decisions. "We haven't decided anything," Levien said Sunday in an interview with The Commercial Appeal. "We want to be thoughtful about it and respectful about it. We want to do what's best for the organization." Memphis Commercial Appeal

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