Owner says Grizzlies now built for playoff run

Grizzlies owner Robert Pera says the team’s recent moves,
including the trade of leading scorer Rudy Gay, have Memphis set up
for a good run in the playoffs.

He also wants to make it clear he’s not looking to make a profit
off his NBA team.

On Tuesday, Pera held his first news conference in Memphis since
his introduction as the team’s chairman before the home opener in
November, addressing topics ranging from finances to the team’s
roster.

”With the latest trades, the personnel moves, how the team is
constructed, I think it has the potential to be the best Grizzlies
team yet,” Pera said. ”I really like how the pieces now fit kind
of the traditional inside-out game. I think if they gel, then
hopefully this could be the best playoff run yet.”

The Gay trade has been criticized by many who saw it as a
cost-cutting measure and an example of new ownership trying to cut
financial corners.

Pera acknowledged that money was a factor but said he looks at
owning the Grizzlies differently than his tech company, Ubiquiti
Networks. He said the goal is putting the best product on the court
without the same consideration for financial gain and cited the Los
Angeles Lakers as an example that spending a lot of money doesn’t
always mean success.

”I run my real business, Ubiquiti Networks, definitely for
profitability,” Pera said. ”For the Memphis Grizzlies, I
definitely don’t want to profit in any way. The primary goal is to
win and to make the City of Memphis proud. . You can’t be cheap,
and I don’t think we are cheap.”

Pera said the moves were more about putting a good team on the
floor than making money.

The Grizzlies sent three role players – Marreese Speights, Wayne
Ellington and Josh Selby – to Cleveland for seldom-used forward Jon
Leuer in the first trade. Then Memphis traded Gay to Toronto in a
three-team deal that brought Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to the
Grizzlies from Detroit and Ed Davis from Toronto.

The Grizzlies are fourth in the Western Conference and have won
two straight going into Tuesday night’s game with Golden State.

Both Pera and CEO Jason Levien said they never had any serious
discussions about trading All-Star forward Zach Randolph. ”I can
say that categorically,” Levien said.

Levien and Pera also said the future of coach Lionel Hollins,
whose contract runs out at the end of the season, is being
discussed. They declined to go into details.

”I don’t think it behooves us to speak publicly about any kind
of contract decision,” Levien said. ”He’s got a proven track
record that’s very impressive as a coach, and we see him as a big
asset for the team.”

Pera sees the result of all of the moves making the Grizzlies
are similar to the team that upset top-seeded San Antonio in the
opening round of the 2011 playoffs and then took Oklahoma City to
seven games in the conference semifinals before losing. Gay was
injured that season, leading to Randolph’s emergence as the go-to
guy.

Pera said not only are the starting players from that team still
in place but believes the supporting players are even stronger.

”Going back to basketball as a team sport and how the pieces
fit together, and how the team plays and the chemistry,” Pera
said. ”The offense we run, it’s just really traditional. It’s an
inside-out, grinding-type of offense.

”Rudy’s talent, his potential, really couldn’t be maximized in
our system. I think it was good for him, and I think it was good
for the team. The pieces we got back are much stronger.”