Grizzlies' Pera Shows Poise While Outlining Franchise's New Long-Term Vision
As the Grizzlies enter their third season with Robert Pera as controlling owner, he "is just now fully asserting himself," according to Zack McMillin of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Pera's press conference on Friday to outline front office changes was "the first in which there was no question who was completely in charge." If he is "still not the most polished, commanding public speaker," he was "comfortable directing things Friday and clearly elaborating a vision for the franchise's future." Pera may have "needed to devote more time to Ubiquiti Networks the previous two years" or former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien may have been "somehow keeping him at arm's length." But the reconfigured Grizzlies "go forward guided by Pera's management and leadership philosophy." His "bold offseason moves may not ever lead to that championship parade down Beale Street that Chris Wallace promised in his first stint as GM." But Pera "made clear Friday, he's the guy to credit -- or blame -- whatever the outcome" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/2). In Memphis, Michael Cohen wrote for the "first time in months, there was a visual confirmation that all is well for the Grizzlies" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/2).
BUILDING A STRONG FOUNDATION: In Memphis, Chris Herrington noted while the "overarching set-up of the team's new ownership/front office apparatus is familiar, there are some big differences." Grizzlies VP/Player Personnel Ed Stefanski brings "a depth of high-level NBA experience to the job unmatched by any of Wallace's previous lieutenants." But beyond the introduction of Stefanski and "reintroductions of Pera and Wallace, the theme on Friday was the team's emphasis on player development and other forms of basketball investment." The implication of the day was that the team was "moving strongly on multiple fronts of player development and other areas of basketball operations that, as Pera pointed out, are not subject to a salary cap." Late Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley was "passionate about his team and willing to spend big to retain star players, but was harder to convince when it came to more long-range or ancillary investments." Pera seems to "have it right: The Grizzlies can't depend on drawing stars in free agency or getting lucky in the draft lottery." They have to "be as smart and thorough as possible about finding talent, developing it and building a sustainable culture" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/4). The COMMERCIAL APPEAL's Cohen noted Stefanski will be "based in Philadelphia to have easier access to the plethora of college and professional teams in the northeast" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/2).