The Grizzlies got off to their best start in franchise history, with a 12-2 start. Holding the best record in the NBA at the time of the 12-2 start, the Grizzlies were number one in everybody’s top NBA rankings. The city of Memphis was extremely excited, by the team’s early efforts on the basketball court.
With Oklahoma City trading away James Harden at the beginning of the season, the Grizzlies were label as the favorites to come out of the Western Conference. With wins over Miami, OKC and New York all in the same week, it would be hard to disagree with the early predictions.
In the mist of the early success on the court, the Grizzlies were undergoing a change of power in the front office. Former majority owner Michael Heisley was looking for a suitable buyer for the team. A 34-year-old executive, Robert Pera step up to the plate and took over ownership for the franchise. The sale of the Memphis Grizzlies to Robert Pera was official on October 25, 2012.
Robert Pera is the founder of Ubiquiti Networks Inc. He has been the Chief Executive Officer of the company since October of 2005.
New ownership means, there is going to be new leadership in the front office and sometimes on the court as well. Grizzlies’ fans new change was soon to come, but how fast, was the unknown.
The first major move of the Pera’s era was the naming of Jason Levien as CEO over Business and Basketball Operation. The Grizzlies would soon relieve the duties of the team’s current scouting staff and hired ESPN’s analyst and writer John Hollinger. John Hollinger is famous for creating the Player Efficiency Rating. John Hollinger is the new Vice President of Basketball Operation for the Memphis Grizzlies.
The new ownership group had to make some major decision to secure the future of the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are a small market team and was currently over the salary cap until they made a deal with Cleveland. The team was also falling in the NBA’s rankings. Not sure if the trade talks were the problem, but the performance on the court was not the same as the 12-2 start. Questions were starting to center around the team. The foremost question, will the ownership trade Rudy Gay? Gays’ name came up in most trade talks, because of his contract and his lack of production.
The Grizzlies made a deal with Cleveland that sent Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby, and a future first round pick for the services of Jon Leuer. This deal took six million off the books and put the Grizzlies under cap for the current season.
The deal gave the Grizzlies’ fans the impression that the Grizzlies’ front office would not make a move to trade Rudy Gay and keep the core of Rudy, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen for the rest of the season. The front office would still face similar problems at the end of the season, but they did not have to make a deal until this summer.
The Grizzlies won two consecutive games after the trade against the Lakers and Brooklyn. The Grizzlies were also able to score a hundred points in both of those games. This was a great feat for the Grizzlies, which sometimes had trouble scoring the basketball. The Grizzlies suffered a bad lost to the Hornets and the question started popping up again.
On January 30, 2012, one day after a win at Philly, the Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors in a three-team trade. The Grizzlies traded Gay and reserve center Hamed Haddadi to Toronto for Ed Davis and Jose Calderon. Memphis then shipped Jose Calderon to Detroit for Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye.
The Rudy Gay trade created a lot doubt for some Grizzlies’ fans. People have started to question the direction of the new ownership. National and local media were dubbing the trade as a money deal. They believe that the trades remove the Grizzlies from being a title contender.
So I pose the question, do you still believe Memphians? I believe time will tell if these moves will help or hurt the Grizzlies, but my honest belief is, the team will be better.