HoopsHype Robert Pera rumors

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May 26, 2014 Updates

The genesis of the Joerger-Pera problems, according to league sources, dates back to last September. Pera -- who fancies himself a pretty good player -- challenged Tony Allen to a game of one-on-one. Allen, on Twitter, accepted. Pera, a Silicon Valley billionaire who bought a small controlling interest in the Grizzlies in 2012, poured tens of thousands of dollars into producing the matchup. He invited the media and instructed the public relations staff to issue a press release promoting the event. SI.com

It was the first of several early season clashes between Joerger and Pera. When the Grizzlies opened the season 2-3 -- including double-digit defeats to Dallas and New Orleans -- Pera flew to Memphis and held individual meetings with players, sources say. He began offering bizarre suggestions. He suggested Mike Miller, a longtime Grizzlies player who was re-signed in the offseason, could become a player-coach. He brought up the idea that Joerger could wear an NFL-style headset and take instructions on the sideline. When the Grizzlies faced Golden State in early November, Pera insisted that Joerger give significant minutes to fourth-year power forward Ed Davis. Davis played just one. Again, according to sources, Pera insisted that Joerger had to go. Only after it was explained how dysfunctional the franchise would look if it fired a first year head coach six games into the season did Pera back down. SI.com

May 25, 2014 Updates
May 23, 2014 Updates

This week, the team abruptly announced that CEO Jason Levien and assistant GM Stu Lash were leaving the organization. Levien, a former agent who was an executive with the Sacramento Kings before playing a role in the ownership transfer of the Philadelphia 76ers, had grown more distant from Grizzlies managing owner Robert Pera in recent months. The decision to remove Levien and Lash, another former agent, clearly was a repudiation of their leadership. CBSSports.com

May 22, 2014 Updates

Here we are, 17 months after Levien was installed in the job running the Grizzlies, and he is gone. It is almost the exact match for his timetable in Sacramento. Sources said tension between he and Pera had been building for months, and when Pera conducted player exit interviews after the season — usually the purview of the coach and general manager — he did so to figure out what the perception of his players were in the wake of the Hollins firing and general upheaval around the team. Pera decided to remove Lash, Levien’s assistant, who is actually better liked around the NBA than Levien himself. Levien left, too, and now, Joerger is free to shop his services to the Timberwolves. Sporting News

Sources say Pera contemplated firing Joerger early in his first season but was ultimately talked out of it, after which Memphis rallied from a slow start and Marc Gasol's knee injury to win 50 games and finish seventh in the hypercompetitive West. ESPN.com

May 20, 2014 Updates

The Grizz were off the board until Monday’s shocking turn, when the team fired Jason Levien, the team’s CEO, and Stu Lash, the assistant GM, almost out of nowhere. Levien even owns a small equity slice of the team, making him one of about 17,423 people who own a chunk of Grizz flesh. No one quite knows what to make of this. David Mincberg, the team’s in-house counsel, appears to have made a power play for more basketball decision-making power, per sources familiar with the situation. There are high-level executives on other teams who have literally not heard of Mincberg. Robert Pera, the most powerful among the team’s owners, conducted his own exit interviews with players after the season, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. That is strange, and Pera is quickly gaining a reputation as a temperamental new owner. Grantland

Geoff Calkins: Put simply, it was the result of a falling out between Pera and Levien. Lash got whacked because he was seen as Levien’s right-hand man. What caused the falling out between Pera and Levien? That depends on whom you believe. Some will tell you this is exactly how it always ends for Levien, the way it ended in Sacramento and Philadelphia. Indeed, go read the stories about Levien’s exit from Sacramento and you’ll see phrases like “front-office split,” “tension within the organization,” and “clandestine power struggle.” The guy plainly has a history. Others will tell you that, yes, Levien may have a history, but he wasn’t at fault here. According to this theory, Levien developed a bond with Pera by flying all over the world with him, putting together this deal. But once Levien actually had to do the job of running the franchise, he wasn’t available to be Pera’s pal. In particular, Pera may have resented the attention Levien paid to other minority owners, including Steve Kaplan. Memphis Commercial Appeal

The buzzer sounded Monday on Jason Levien’s run as Grizzlies’ CEO after two seasons. Levien, along with director of player personnel Stu Lash, was fired as part of the Grizzlies’ unexpected front-office shake-up. Griz majority owner Robert Pera announced the departures in a statement released by the team. The abrupt divorce was the result of an apparently deteriorating relationship between Pera and Levien over the past year, even as the Grizzlies returned to the playoffs with a 50-win campaign. General manager Chris Wallace, who had been essentially sidelined during Levien’s reign, will return to the helm of the franchise’s basketball operations on an interim basis. Dave Joerger remains as head coach. “This has nothing to do with Joerger,” Wallace said. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Previously, Levien had been involved in interactions between Pera and any individual seeking to converse with the Griz owner. But Pera increasingly made maneuvers around the team — such as attending games, and meeting with players and coaches — without Levien by his side. Pera eventually made it known to front office personnel last weekend that changes were on the horizon. “I’m here to help with the process,” Wallace said. “I have tremendous loyalty and feelings for this organization and city. There’s an unfilled promise that I made in 2007 to hold a parade down Beale Street. It’s a total organizational and community effort, and I’m just here to do my part. We’re close and we’ve got to wrap it up and put a bow around it and finish it.” Memphis Commercial Appeal

May 19, 2014 Updates
February 9, 2014 Updates

When they’re on Bourbon St. in New Orleans for All-Star Weekend, NBA players will be thinking of Beale St. in Memphis, and not so fondly. During the usual informal talks that come during the upcoming weekend, the players intend to ask the league about throwing its weight around to get the so-called “Tennessee Tax" repealed. Every NBA player who visits Memphis for a game against the Grizzlies is subject to the tax, which takes up to $7,500 per season per player. The same tax that has been on the books since 2010 applies to NHL players who visit Nashville to play the Predators. But for some reason NFL players who go to Nashville to play the Titans are exempt. New York Daily News

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