Jun 11, 2012, 3:31 PM EDT
Robert Pera is a 34-year-old billionaire about to own an NBA team. So, what have you been doing with your life?
In a move that Grizzlies have have both hoped for and feared (because the new owner might try to move the team), owner Michael Heisley has apparently found a buyer and will sell the team. So reports Marc Stein at ESPN.
Sources told ESPN.com that Heisley has an agreement in principle to sell the team to communications technology magnate Robert Pera, who at 34 has a spot on Forbes’ list of the 10 youngest billionaries in the world.
The purchase price is in the $350 million range, sources said. A formal announcement to publicize the agreement between the parties is expected this week, possibly as soon as later Monday, with NBA Board of Governors approval then required before Pera can be officially installed as successor to Heisley, who recently turned 75.
Sources say that Pera intends to keep the team in Memphis. The Grizzlies’ lease at the FedExForum, furthermore, ties the team to the city until the year 2021, with steep financial penalties attached to breaking that lease.
That last paragraph is the key — the Grizzlies will not be on the move.
As this team is locked in place for a while, this move could be a good thing for the Grizzlies, a franchise already on the upswing but could different energy and change at the top. Heisley was far from loved by fans. Pera reportedly is an avid basketball player.
We don’t know much about Pera, other than he is a former Apple engineer who founded wireless company Ubiquiti Networks, which is where he made his money. According to Forbes he lives a very stripped-down, no frills life — leases his car, lives in a one-bedroom apartment, the kind of guy who doesn’t check a bag when he travels. Which could be interesting in the frill-filled life of the NBA.
But he could be a real breath of fresh air and help take an already good Grizzles team to new heights.