Grizzlies owner defends recent trades

The Grizzlies’ new owner is defending the trade of his team’s
leading scorer and other moves to dump salary, saying he believes
they can do some ”serious damage” in the playoffs with the
changes.

Robert Pera took part in a web chat Friday with Memphis’ season
ticket holders along with chief executive officer Jason Levien, and
Pera’s first question was about whether the new ownership group has
the financial ability to run the team.

”This team was built for playoff basketball,” Pera wrote. ”In
playoff basketball, getting defensive stops and creating high
percentage scoring opportunities under pressure becomes much more
important. … And that is what this team can do best.”

Pera hadn’t spoken publicly since taking over the team Nov.
5.

His Grizzlies traded Marreese Speights and two players along
with a future first-round draft pick to Cleveland last week for Jon
Leuer and a trade exception. On Wednesday, the Grizzlies sent
leading scorer Rudy Gay to Toronto in a three-team trade bringing
Memphis Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis.

The first trade helped Memphis avoid a $4 million luxury tax hit
this season. Trading away Gay clears up $37 million in salary
committed by previous owner Michael Heisley, while Memphis now has
a trade exception of about $7.5 million that can be used by Memphis
over the next year to add another player if needed.

”We made the second trade because we feel it allows us to put a
more competitive product on the floor this season and in future
seasons,” Levien wrote. ”We got better. We also picked up a
valuable draft pick as well as trade exceptions that will allow us
to be opportunistic in going on the offensive moving forward.”

Pera wrote that NBA teams have won titles with superstars and
without, and he believes the Grizzlies as they are now built
potentially can become the next example.

”Between Tayshuan’s winning pedigree, the league’s best
perimeter defense, and Mark/Zbo returning back to the focal point
of the offense; I believe we are a far more dangerous playoff team
today,” Pera wrote of Marc Gasol and All-Star forward Zach
Randolph.

The Grizzlies lost 106-89 in Oklahoma City on Thursday night as
they spent the first half trying to figure out how to play without
Gay and with the new additions not having joined the team. They
still rank fourth in the Western Conference with a 29-16 record
going into Friday night’s game against Washington that still is the
best in franchise history at this point in a season.

Pera called the deal bringing Davis an added bonus and said he
believes Levien and the front office has done an outstanding job to
position Memphis for playoff success this year. Memphis has reached
the playoffs each of the last two seasons and made its deepest run
in 2011 to the seventh game of the Western Conference semifinals
against Oklahoma City with Gay injured.

”We can do some serious damage in these playoffs,” Pera
wrote.

A former Apple engineer, Pera founded Ubiquiti Networks, a
California communications technology company that makes WiFi
networking equipment. He shared the news that new equipment is
being added to the FedExForum to improve WiFi during games for
fans.

Asked what has surprised him the most about being an NBA owner,
Pera called the power of the media an ”eye-opener.”

”In today’s world, social networking has enabled information to
disseminate quickly, and in a vacuum, even inaccurate information
and misunderstandings can spread fast,” Pera wrote.

Pera said his business style is substance as an engineer and not
a salesman or talker. Pera wrote he prefers to let results speak
for themselves. But he did try to send a message to season ticket
holders about his commitment to the Grizzlies.

”Although I am not one to speak out much or actively seek
publicity, I want Memphians to know that what I want more than
anything is to position this team to be wildly successful and do
well by the city of Memphis both in the short and long term,” Pera
wrote.

Pera knows the Grizzlies have been heavily scrutinized for these
moves with the new owner and changes in the front office.

”Although the way we get there might contradict traditional
thought, we are both committed to building something great in
Memphis that will hopefully set a new standard for how to run an
NBA franchise successfully,” Pera wrote.