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Robert Pera has sent a formal notice to the NBA office that
he plans to buy out two minority partners and remain controlling owner of the
Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies announced Monday night that Pera both alerted the league office
and shared his decision in a letter to season-ticket holders in which he also
confirmed his commitment to Memphis.

The two partners triggered a ”buy-sell” clause from 2012 when Pera Johnathan
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, the founder of Ubiquiti Networks, bought the team
with a handful of minority owners. The clause required Pera to either buy out
the shareholders or sell Steve Kaplan and Daniel Straus his portion of the
Grizzlies.

The Commercial Appeal shared a copy of Pera’s email to season-ticket holders
where he shared his commitment to Memphis and the Grizzlies.

”I am committed to Memphis as an NBA market and as the home of the
Grizzlies,” Pera wrote. ”We recognize that this has been a trying season for you
as fans. That serves to reinforce our dedication to building a successful NBA
franchise.”

The Grizzlies have snapped a seven-year playoff run and went into Monday
night’s game at Minnesota with a 22-58 record that was better than only Phoenix
(20-61). They conclude the season Wednesday night at Oklahoma City.

Pera fired coach David Fizdale in November, but the rarely seen controlling
owner has invested heavily in the franchise on and off the court. The Grizzlies
renovated the locker rooms this past offseason and has added personnel in recent
years. Memphis also re-signed Marc Gasol and Mike Conley at very pricey
contracts while adding Chandler Parsons as an expensive free agent.

The value Saints coach Sean Payton sees in Benjamin Watson has little to do
with the career-best receiving numbers the veteran tight end put up the last
time he played for New Orleans in 2015.

Watson wasn’t a featured receiver then, and won’t likely be this season,
either.

Payton figures he can count on Watson being an exemplary leader in the locker
room, a willing role player who’ll rarely blow an assignment – and someone who
remains skilled enough at age 37 to help Drew Brees punish defenses that pay too
much attention to star play-makers such as receiver Michael Thomas and running
back Alvin Kamara.

Recalling a 2015 game in which Watson caught 10 passes for 127 yards and a
touchdown against Atlanta, Payton said Chad
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, ”I don’t know that the game plan called for that.
It’s kind of just how it unfolded.”

”With Ben, you know he’s someone that has versatility and he’s a super
teammate,” Payton said. ”He’s been a real dependable player. … You know exactly
what you’re getting and there’s a value in that.”

Similarly, Watson said it would be too simplistic to view his 2015 receiving
numbers – 74 catches for 825 yards and six touchdowns – as a main reason for his
return to New Orleans after two years with Baltimore.

”I don’t know what to expect. Every year is different,” Watson said after a
voluntary offseason practice on Thursday. ”Even when I was here the last time …
I was here three years and my role was different every single year.

”You contribute in different ways. You’re healthy or not healthy. Another
guy’s healthy or not healthy. You may be strong in one position and weaker in
other positions,” Watson said. ”There’s just this mix that happens every single
year and you really don’t know what it is, really, until the end of the
year.”

While Watson joined the Ravens in 2016 Luke
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, he missed that season because of a right Achilles
tear. He came back last season, playing in all 16 games and catching 61 passes
for 522 yards and four TDs.

”I proved last year that I can be dependable, that I can play the game and
that I can contribute in a number of different ways,” said Watson, who signed a
one-year, $2 million free agent contract with the Saints in late March. ”That’s
why you sign guys to your team.”

Watson has attended two of three voluntary practices open to media so far
this offseason and doesn’t seem to have lost the chemistry he’d developed with
quarterback Drew Brees, whom Watson calls ”No. 9.”

Watson does not describe himself as the type of dynamic play-maker who’ll be
Brees’ No. 1 option on a lot of plays called, but added Brandon
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, ”When you got a guy like No. 9 who can identify
mismatches and knows what the coverage is going to do before it does it, then
you get the ball.”

Watson began his career with New England, which made him a late-first-round
draft choice out of Georgia in 2004. He was a Super Bowl champion as a
seldom-used rookie, but hasn’t won a ring since establishing himself as an NFL
regular.

Watson views his return to New Orleans as a chance to join a contender,
something the Saints weren’t when he last played for them in 2015.

Last season, boosted by a core of rookies and second-year players in
prominent roles, the Saints came one play away from advancing to the NFC
championship game.

”It’s about going places where not only do you have some familiarity – you
enjoyed being there – but also giving yourself an opportunity to win,” Watson
said. ”Winning is a big deal. It doesn’t happen for a lot of players over the
course of their career.”

With the Saints Gale
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, Watson said, ”You have the coaching staff, you have
the front office, you have the fan base, you have the quarterback. … That’s
definitely made coming to New Orleans very attractive.”

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