HoopsHype Robert Pera rumors

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

November 27, 2013 Updates

Several league sources, meanwhile, said that first-year coach Dave Joerger is getting considerable direction from the top of the team masthead, including everyone from owner Robert Pera to VP John Hollinger. “They’re suggesting lineups,” said one league source. “Aggressively.” Bleacher Report

One scout said, “It looked as if Joerger was trying to put his stamp on them and the players resisted. They were like, ‘The other way worked, so why change?’ I know they wanted to play faster, but they don’t have that kind of team. They grind.” Bleacher Report

November 26, 2013 Updates

Several league sources, meanwhile, said that first-year coach Dave Joerger is getting considerable direction from the top of the team masthead, including everyone from owner Robert Pera to VP John Hollinger. “They’re suggesting lineups,” said one league source. “Aggressively.” One scout said, “It looked as if Joerger was trying to put his stamp on them and the players resisted. They were like, ‘The other way worked, so why change?’ I know they wanted to play faster, but they don’t have that kind of team. They grind.” Bleacher Report

Why abandon a style that won 56 games last season? One scout attributed it to the fact that analytics suggest more possessions—i.e., playing faster—and more drive-and-kick opportunities produce more efficient offensive numbers. There’s also the matter of having dumped veteran coach Lionel Hollins for the neophyte Joerger, in part because Hollins wasn’t enthralled with having front-office numbers-crunchers telling him what offensive sets he should use. Randolph, without outright saying so, apparently felt the same way. He’s as easygoing a superstar as you will meet, but he clearly enjoys all that comes with being a superstar. That includes traveling with four phones, including three smart phones, and having the ringtone on one as the ding-ding-ding of a winning slot machine. That also includes letting it be known, by deed more than word, about what sort of offense best suits him. Bleacher Report

October 17, 2013 Updates

Hours removed from the owner of the Memphis Grizzlies challenging Michael Jordan to a charity one-on-one game, MJ had a response: “Comical.” That’s the word the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats (and Hall of Fame player) used in a brief interview with the Observer Wednesday. If new Grizzlies owner Robert Pera wants to play one-on-one for $1 million to charity (as he said on Twitter), Jordan won’t be his opponent. “I think that’s comical,’’ Jordan said. “It didn’t make any sense. Why would I play one-on-one? It’s a no-win situation for me no matter what.” Charlotte Observer

October 16, 2013 Updates

Hours removed from the owner of the Memphis Grizzlies challenging Michael Jordan to a charity one-on-one game, MJ had a response: “Comical.” That’s the word the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats (and Hall of Fame player) used in a brief interview with the Observer Wednesday. If new Grizzlies owner Robert Pera wants to play one-on-one for $1 million to charity (as he said on Twitter), Jordan won’t be his opponent. “I think that’s comical,’’ Jordan said. “It didn’t make any sense. Why would I play one one-on-one? It’s a no-win situation for me no matter what.” Charlotte Observer

And now Grizzlies owner Robert J. Pera is challenging Jordan to a one-on-one game, offering to stake a $1 million contribution to charity. Pera had been joking with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on Twitter, asking why Cuban had postponed a one-on-one game between them since “I would make quick work of him.” Then Pera upped the stakes with this Tweet directed at Hall of Famer Jordan: “If we are talking a charity game, get me MJ! I’ll up the charity contribution to $1 m” Charlotte Observer

Any rumor missing? E-mail us at   hoopshype@hoopshype.com.