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Local investors join Pera in Grizzlies bid

By Royce Young | NBA writer

Really good news for Grizzlies fans via the Commercial-Appeal: Prospective owner Robert Pera has reached an agreement with a group of local investors that essentially guarantees the team's place in Memphis for the next 15 years.

Pera has agreed to three provisions: 1) a $100 million penalty if the team is moved, 2) a right of first refusal under which the local owners will be able to match any offer Pera receives to sell the team and 3) the right for the locals to buy the team from Pera at the current price if he wants to move it. All provisions are in effect for the next 15 years.

The local group includes J.R. "Pitt" Hyde, Staley Cates, Ed Dobbs, Duncan Williams and Billy Orgel. Cates confirmed the details of the agreement Monday, as did a source close to Pera.

This quote from Cates is probably the biggest part: "Most importantly, the team's not going anywhere. That's the whole point. That's the main thing that this is all about."

Last week there was word that Pera was exploring options to bring in a minority share.

The local group will reportedly own roughly 30 to 35 percent of the team. Pera, a 34-year-old CEO of a Silicon Valley firm that builds wireless hardware, purchased the team from Michael Heisley for an estimated $350 million.

His purchase of the team has been under review by the NBA, as is standard procedure. Pera has recently had some unexpected financial issues arise as his stock has fallen hard in the last few weeks. That's the likely reason he decided to bring in a minority partnership.

There was also that small thing that his company might've sold products illegally to Iran.

The agreement with the investors is separate from the team's lease with the city of Memphis. The lease doesn't expire until 2029, or potentially 2021 if certain attendance levels aren't met.

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