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.''