Heisley Reaches Agreement To Sell Grizzlies

3:40pm: Heisley confirmed to Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida (Twitter link) that he has signed a contract agreeing to sell the Grizzlies. However, he stressed that it could take a month or two for the NBA to approve the sale (Twitter link).

2:15pm: Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley has found a buyer for the franchise, reports ESPN.com's Marc Stein. According to Stein, Heisley has reached an agreement in principle to sell the Grizzlies to Robert Pera, a 34-year-old communications technology magnate, and the deal is pending league approval. 

According to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Pera has yet to officially sign a purchasing agreement, and the deal could go either way in the next couple days (Twitter links). However, Stein says that a formal announcement to publicize the agreement between the two sides is expected at some point this week.

Earlier this year, Heisley had exploratory talks about selling the Grizzlies to Oracle founder and CEO Larry Ellison. Ellis was interested in moving the franchise to San Jose, which Heisley insisted was not on the table, saying "this team cannot be moved." At the time, Heisley was said to be seeking $350MM for the team and mentioned that another prospective buyer was in the mix. That additional suitor was likely Pera, who Stein says does not intend to move the team, despite being a California native. The purchase price is indeed in the $350MM range, according to Stein.

When I examined the Grizzlies' offseason earlier today, many of my expectations for the team's plans hinged on Heisley's comments about being reluctant to add payroll and wanting to avoid being a taxpaying team. However, if Pera's purchase becomes official, it could alter the club's approach to free agency and the trade market this summer.


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