Sources: Grizzlies sale vote soon

Updated: October 23, 2012, 12:57 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

The sale of the Memphis Grizzlies to an ownership group headed by Northern California tech magnate Robert Pera is poised for approval by vote of the NBA's Board of Governors on Thursday, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told ESPN.com that one of the key agenda items at this week's two-day Board of Governors session in Manhattan is ratifying the transfer of control of the Grizzlies from the outgoing Michael Heisley to Pera's star-studded consortium, which includes actor/singer Justin Timberlake as well as Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and wife Ashley.

Timberlake and Ashley Manning are native Memphians, as are two more prominent minority owners in Pera's group: Ex-NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway and former Congressman Harold Ford Jr.

Pera is the 34-year-old former Apple engineer who left the computer giant in 2005 to start a communications technology company (Ubiquiti Networks) specializing in WiFi networking equipment.

Pera, who splits his time between the San Jose area and Taiwan, was named to Forbes' list of the world youngest billionaires in 2011.

Although Ubiquiti stock has taken some hits in 2012, Pera has also brought in other prominent members of the Memphis business community to be minority shareholders, including AutoZone founder J.R. "Pitt" Hyde and fund manager Staley Cates, who were minority owners under Heisley.

Sources said on Monday that Pera has likewise since recruited Los Angeles-based financier Stephen Kaplan to join the Grizzlies' new ownership group.

Approval is generally regarded as a formality once it advances to the point of being presented to the league's Board of Governors -- which includes a voting representative from every NBA franchise -- for a vote.

"We've heard a lot of good things about him and his intentions are all good," Grizzlies guard Mike Conley Jr. said earlier this month of Pera. "I know the city of Memphis should be excited. As a team, we are excited. It's going to be a different expectation for us, and we're just looking forward to taking it on."

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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