After two sequential trips to the playoffs and a comeback to respectability in the Western Conference, Michael Heisley has found a buyer to get the Memphis Grizzlies, according to sources with understanding of the owner’s arrangement. Low vig run line
Sources recounted that Heisley has an agreement in theory to sell the team to communications technology magnate Robert Pera, who at 34-year-oldhas a spot on Forbes ‘ list of the 10 youngest billionaires in the World.
The acquisition price is in the $350 million range, sources related. A formalized announcement to publicize the contract between the parties is expected this week, with NBA Board of Governors approval then required before Pera can be officially installed as inheritor to Heisley, who latterly turned 75.
Sources say that Pera will keep the team in Memphis. The Grizzlies’ lease at the FedExForum, similarly, ties the team to the city until the year 2021, with steep money penalties attached to breaking that lease.
In 2006, Heisley agreed to sell his 70 percent controlling position in the Grizzlies for a reported $360 million to a partnership headlined by Christian Laettner and fellow Duke Alumnus Brian Davis. That agreement infamously collapsed and was followed by the controversial trade of Pau Gasol to the Lakers in February 2008. That move at 1st earned Heisley extensive criticism before the Grizzlies’ recent turn-around. But Pera is often known as a basketball fanatic in business circles and is an unquestionably more major bidder given his monetary portfolio.
Sources said that Pera was spotted at a Grizzlies game in March touring the team’s facilities and operations and Heisley recognized in March that there had been another nameless bidder for the team along with California billionaire Larry Ellison. Heisley was quoted as saying that he halted negotiations with Ellison as the deep-pocketed Oracle founder wanted to relocate the organization.
“We’re not even in consideration of Ellison,” Heisley said. “This team can’t be moved.”
Heisley has maintained for years that — although he never took the Grizzlies off the market — he hasn’t been actively shopping the team. The Grizzlies were widely bashed for the Gasol deal that ultimately helped the LA Lakers win championships in 2009 and 2010, but Heisley has hushed some of the criticism during the past 2 seasons by signing Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol to rewarding deals amid longstanding skepticism regarding his willingness to spend.
The Memphis Grizzlies suffered a disappointing 1st-round exit this season after blowing a 24-point lead in the 4th quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 and then losing Game 7. But in 2011, after the 1st-round upset of 61-win San Antonio, Heisley related: “I believe, quite overtly, that we’re placed to be a real factor in this league going forward.”
After this season’s early exit, Heisley described the Grizzlies’ feats as “miraculous” given the loss of key reserve Darrell Arthur to a torn Achilles tendon during training camp and Randolph’s 37-game absence as a result of a torn MCL in his right knee.
The Chicago-based Heisley acquired the Grizzlies in 2000 when they were located in Vancouver and moved the franchise to Memphis starting with the 2001-02 season.