Today Hoopshype came out with an excellent little feature on Michael Hiesley completes with excerpts from an interview with the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Grizzlies beat writer Ronald Tillery. When asked if there was any way he would move the Grizzlies, he denied the possibility:
"The team cannot be moved. It isn't me saying this to be a good guy," Heisley said to Ron Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "There are obligations and commitments to the city and county. It's ridiculous to think we can move this team."
He noted that he understands the city's frustration with the Grizzlies, and understands why they don't show up to games. But he seemed wholly unapologetic for running such a tight bottom-line. He did confirm that the Grizzlies are making plenty of money as an organization, in the top third of teams in the league. My favorite lines come here:
Some of my worst financial losses came during those (playoff) years. You can't sustain that.
"Now, we can't go on forever having 6,000 people in the stands. All we need is to have reasonable support from the people in Memphis. If we put a winning team on the floor, we'll do very well. But we've got a great arena and we're building a fan base by getting these people interested in these young players."
This suggests to me that Heisley does plan on spending on this team once the young core becomes a competitive core, which could be only a few years in the future. And while this may just be posturing, I don't think so. Heisley was willing to eat the tax in previous years, I think he's just biding his time now to make paying for a winner in the future more palpatable, especially if the economic climate has fully turned around by that time.