Capitals

New owner brings youthful buzz to the Grizzlies

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New owner brings youthful buzz to the Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Mike Conley says the Grizzlies' new owner doesn't look much older than he is. The Memphis guard is right.

Robert J. Pera, the Grizzlies' new chairman and majority owner, is only nine years older than his point guard. The 34-year-old California businessman is a fresh face from a much different generation than the Grizzlies' previous owner - 75-year-old billionaire Michael Heisley.

``I like it,'' Pera said of being called an NBA owner. ``It has a nice ring to it.''

He became one of the youngest owners ever of a major professional sports team when he paid $377 million for the team.

Mark Cuban was 41 when he bought the Dallas Mavericks in 2000, and Eddie DeBartolo became the youngest NFL owner ever when he took over the San Francisco 49ers at 30, according to STATS LLC.

Pera, looking relaxed wearing a suit jacket with his black shirt unbuttoned at the top, chatted with the more conservative, gray-haired Heisley in his suit and tie Monday night before the Grizzlies beat Utah 103-94.

Pera may be young, but NBA commissioner David Stern said Monday night the league's newest owner has the three things he looks for: passion, deep pockets and knowing how to delegate and hire top management.

Stern called Pera passionate as a ``basketball junkie.''

Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph has heard Pera not only loves basketball but plays often and can even dunk.

``I'm going to challenge him one-on-one, three dribbles,'' Randolph said.

The Memphis big-man better not be fooled by the new owner's youthful appearance; Pera's shrewd and doesn't appear to lose much.

``He has the wherewithal, and he put together a great group. I'll throw into that wherewithal his intellectual wherewithal,'' Stern said of Pera. ``He's a smart businessman, and he's a driven businessman and he understands the potential because of the business he's in, which is basically how to deliver content through the internet to communities that don't easily get it.

``And we're nothing if we're not content.''

Pera, who grew up in San Carlos, Calif., had his own computer services company by the time he was 16. He has degrees in Japanese and electrical engineering along with a master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of California-San Diego and worked at Apple as an engineer.

He started Ubiquiti Networks in March 2005 and went public in October 2011. The communications technology company taps into Wi-Fi technology to extend Internet access into underserved and rural areas, and Pera wants to use some of the ideas with the Grizzlies.

Pera wants more branding and marketing of the team. He talked of bringing more technology not just to the Grizzlies' FedExForum arena but Memphis schools as well. And he plans to use the same management approach with the Grizzlies by not having a bunch of management and letting engineers make decisions.

``One of the things I'd like to see moving forward in the culture is to really empower the players to have input on who they want to play with and make them accountable for creating their own team and their own culture,'' Pera said. ``I think when you empower people like that you bring out the best in them.''

The Grizzlies haven't had much time to get to know Pera, whose purchase was finalized last week. He spoke to them before Monday night's home opener, and forward Rudy Gay liked what he heard.

``He didn't say much,'' Gay said of Pera. ``My kind of guy.''

What plans Pera and his close friend Jason Levien, the new chief executive officer and managing partner in charge of the Grizzlies, have for the actual roster remain to be seen. They've been consumed the past few months with meeting the NBA's exhaustive vetting for buying a team, and now they can start the work of running the Grizzlies.

``I don't think it's too far off,'' Pera said. ``It's going to take a couple smart moves, and I think we could be very competitive.''

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Referees miss blatant boarding by Paquette on Orpik

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USA TODAY Sports

Referees miss blatant boarding by Paquette on Orpik

A rough hit to the back of Brooks Orpik left him down on the ice and slow to get up. Cedric Paquette skated back to his bench and waited for the trainer to attend to Orpik and (probably) for the referees to call his number and send him to the box.

The penalty, however, never came.

You always hear in hockey that if you can see a player's numbers, you should pull up on the hit.

What that refers to is the numbers on the back of a player's jersey. You are not allowed to hit a player directly in the back into the boards.

The official definition of boarding according to the NHL rule book is, "any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously." Hitting a player "in the numbers" is a defenseless position.

Apparently Cedric Paquette didn't know that and, unfortunately for the Capitals, neither did the referees.

Someone explain to me how this is not a boarding penalty:

Sometimes referees are put in a tough position because a player turns his back right before they take the hit, thus putting themselves in a vulnerable position to draw a penalty. That was not the case here. Orpik never turned.

When Tom Wilson hit Pittsburgh Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese in the second period, the hockey world spent the next day debating whether it was an illegal hit. There is no debate here, no grey area. Just a clear board.

And no call.

You can understand referees wanting to put away the whistles for a Game 7, but you have to call the blatant dangerous plays like this. This was a bad miss by the referees, plain and simple.

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Wizards' third pre-draft workout to feature local stars including GW's Yuta Watanabe

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Wizards' third pre-draft workout to feature local stars including GW's Yuta Watanabe

The Wizards will hold their third pre-draft workout on Thursday at Capital One Arena, this time featuring four local standouts out of the six players attending. Highlighting that group is Yuta Watanabe of George Washington, the Atlantic-10 Defensive Player of the Year.

Here is the full list with notes on each player...

Phillip Carr, F, Morgan State (6-9, 205)

Carr averaged 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds this past season at Morgan State in Maryland. He shot 84.6 percent from the free throw line, excellent for a big man.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

James Daniel III, G, Tennessee (6-0, 172)

Originally from Hampton, Va., Daniel III played four years at Howard University in D.C. before transferring to Tennessee as a redshirt senior. He was the MEAC Player of the Year in his last healthy season at Howard. Daniel III averaged 5.6 points in 35 games for the Volunteers.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

Marcus Derrickson, F, Georgetown (6-7, 250)

Derrickson hails from nearby Bowie, Md. He played three years with the Hoyas and averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and shot 46.5 percent from three this past season. 

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

Junior Etou, F, Tulsa (6-8, 235)

Originally from the Republic of Congo, Etou went to high school at Bishop O'Connell in Arlington, Va. He is Serge Ibaka's cousin and didn't start playing basketball until he was 15. Etou averaged 15.0 points and 7.9 rebounds this past season.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

Junior Robinson, G, Mount St. Mary's (5-5, 150)

The Northeast Conference Player of the Year, Robinson averaged 22.0 points and 4.8 assists this past season. He was a four-year starter at Mount St. Mary's.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

Yuta Watanabe, F, George Washington (6-9, 205)

One of the best basketball players to ever come from Japan, Watanabe was a defensive standout for the Colonials who developed into a solid scorer by his senior year. This past season, he averaged 16.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He is known in Japan as 'The Chosen One' and both of his parents played basketball professionally. NBC Sports Washington first reported he would work out with the Wizards this week.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent; best chance for NBA is as defensive specialist

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