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Report: Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera inquired last summer about moving franchise

Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 21: Owner Robert Pera of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on December 21, 2018 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Grizzlies owner Robert Pera has been, at different times, both overbearing and distant in Memphis.

What’s clear: Pera owns the Memphis Grizzlies.

But for how much longer?

Ronald Tillery, who previously covered the Grizzlies for The Commercial Appeal:

It’s not totally clear whether this means moving as in selling or relocating – or both.

A league source quickly reached out to NBC Sports to deny there was any truth to the rumor. Tillery has outspokenly criticized Pera. That doesn’t mean Tillery can’t report accurately on Pera. It’s just worth considering there has been both friction and distance between the sides. This report will reflect poorly on Pera in Memphis.

Previous exploration of selling the team becomes particularly relevant now, as the NBA loses significant revenue due to its coronavirus-forced stoppage. Some owners could see this crisis as a time to get out while they’re so far ahead – especially those who need cash. (That’s less likely to apply to Pera, whose business is wireless communications.)

Memphis is one of the NBA’s smallest markets. So, there has been plenty of speculation about the Grizzlies moving to Seattle or elsewhere. But their arena lease creates complications (it runs through 2027). That said, leases can be broken – especially with nearly a year of negotiation.