Grizzlies' minority owners can start process to purchase team

Starting Thursday, two Memphis Grizzlies minority owners can begin a process to attempt to purchase the team from controlling owner Robert Pera, sources told ESPN.

Steven Kaplan and Daniel Straus each have the option to make an offer on the five-year anniversary of Pera's $377 million purchase of the team. One or both are expected to initiate the process within a 60-day window, sources said.

The unusual provision gives Kaplan and Straus each the right to name a price for the team. Pera would have to either buy one or both of his partners' shares -- depending on who bids -- or sell his own shares to them at that valuation during a subsequent 60-day window.

The procedure could take months to play out and might not result in a formal bid. Straus or Kaplan could stand by and watch the other bid and then decide what to do, sources said. Or they could pass on the opportunity altogether and maintain the status quo.

If Kaplan and Straus choose to bypass the buy/sell option, they will have another chance in 2020.

Kaplan, Straus and the Grizzlies declined comment to ESPN.

Former NBA commissioner David Stern suggested this buy/sell provision when the partnership to buy the team was formed. When the deal was completed in 2012, Kaplan and Straus each controlled about 14 percent of the Grizzlies and Pera controlled about 26 percent.

The situation comes on the heels of the Houston Rockets' record sale of $2.2 billion, which lifted franchise values in the NBA. A large piece of the Brooklyn Nets has reportedly been for sale recently as well.

In February, Forbes estimated the Grizzlies' value at $790 million.

Kaplan attempted to purchase a piece of the Minnesota Timberwolves last year with a plan to sell his Grizzlies shares as part of the transaction. That deal ultimately fell through, and Kaplan went on to purchase a controlling interest in Swansea City, a Premier League soccer club in Wales. He previously was involved in attempts to purchase the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Hawks.

A lawyer and investor who lives in Los Angeles, Kaplan attended the Grizzlies' home opener last week, the first time he has attended a game in Memphis in more than a year. He and Pera have been at odds at times during their ownership tenure, sources said.

Straus, a health care and real estate investor, lives in the New York City area and is currently the Grizzlies vice chairman.

Pera has seen his net worth soar since buying the team. Five years ago, when he needed to take on Kaplan's and Straus' investments to make the purchase, the stock of Pera's company, Ubiquiti Networks, was trading at $12 per share. This week, the stock is trading at more than $62 per share.

Pera, the Ubiquiti CEO and majority stockholder, now has an estimated net worth of $3.8 billion.