Sometime in the near future, the Memphis Grizzlies won’t be pumping the rumor mill full of details regarding the relationship between Marc Gasol and recently fired head coach David Fizdale. But don’t take this to mean they’ll be out of the rumor mill altogether.
They have an ongoing ownership battle currently playing out, one that’s expected to last quite a while.
One of the Grizzlies’ minority owners, Steve Kaplan and Daniel Straus, activated a buy-sell provision that, in essence, will force majority owner Robert Pera to either buy them out or sell off his share of the team to them, as first reported by The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski. And anyone hoping to a quick resolution for this unique saga is about to be disappointed, according to NBA.com’s David Aldridge:
They also were given what is called a “buy-sell” provision, allowing each, five years after the sale and every three years thereafter, a window in wsohich either can attempt to buy controlling interest in the team. During the window, they can set a price for the team, after which Pera must either buy their shares at that valuation price or sell his share of the team to one or both of them.
The Athletic reported last week that the buy-sell window was activated, though it is not clear whether it was Kaplan or Straus who did so. The process is expected to drag out during the entirety of the two-month window, with no decision imminent. (History also teaches that before anything involving ownership of a franchise gets too squirrely, the league usually, quietly, intervenes, and finds a single buyer with the scratch to write a single, gargantuan check to settle the matter.)
No one seems to know how this soap opera will play out. As noted ad nauseam, Pera has long been painted as an absentee owner with minimal interest in being around the team. With the Grizzlies approaching a crossroads, perhaps one that includes a thorough rebuild in the NBA’s second-smallest market, he could opt to cash out before things get messy. The Grizzlies were purchased for around $350 million in 2012, and Forbes currently values them at around $790 million. He should make a killing if he decides to walk away.
But Pera might not want to give ground to Kaplan and Straus under the circumstances. He won’t have as much leverage as he would if he were holding an open sale, where a bunch of other billionaires will be involved in the bidding, perhaps driving up the price into the billion-dollar range. That essentially happened for the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets, both of which have been sold for at $2 billion. The Grizzlies won’t go for nearly that much, but with NBA values skyrocketing league-wide, they figure to fetch a pretty penny on the open market—hence why this situation is so tough to read.