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Owner sets May 1 deadline to take team off market

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley
said Monday he will take the team off the market if he does not
have an offer to buy it by May 1.

If the schedule holds, it will mean the end of Heisley's
yearlong effort to sell the franchise, an uncertainty that has
played into a dismal season for the NBA's worst team.

"I'm just basically tired, and I'm a little worn out," Heisley
said of the decision. "I'm going to get re-involved, and we are
basically going to run the team."

Heisley's announcement came during a news conference before the
Grizzlies played the San Antonio Spurs.

The ownership question has been one of the issues hanging over
the franchise this season. Coach Mike Fratello was fired in
December, questions have lingered about the future of team
president of basketball operations Jerry West, and leading scorer
Pau Gasol requested a trade. And the team's poor play has
contributed to declining attendance.

Former Duke players Brian Davis and Christian Laettner tried to
buy the team, but they couldn't come up with the $252 million
needed to purchase Heisley's controlling share or the $360 million
necessary to purchase the team.

Heisley said he has talked to two or three groups about the
sale, but nothing has been accomplished.

Heisley said he did not begrudge Gasol's request for a trade as
the Grizzlies rebuild.

Heisley said the team will now concentrate on the draft, hoping
to land one of the top picks. He did not mention any players
specifically, but said the franchise is not far from returning to
the level that took the Grizzlies to the playoffs in the previous
three seasons.

Texas freshman star Kevin Durant has already made himself
eligible for the draft and Ohio State center Greg Oden might do the
same.

"We have a chance in this draft to get a tremendous player,"
the Grizzlies owner said. "This is probably the strongest draft
since I've been in the NBA. Hopefully, God will shine on us and
give us the pingpong ball.

"Obviously, we're very anxious and hopeful that we will get
either one or two."

He said West will be with the team through the draft, but did
not talk about the team president's future beyond that. He also
said West will have input on the team's general manager and new
coach, but the final decision will rest with Heisley.

Heisley said he still thinks the franchise would be better with
a new owner.

"I truly believe Memphis deserves to have an owner who lives
here, who's active, who's really involved," Heisley said.
"Someone like [Dallas Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban, who would
basically energize the situation. I think that would be better than
having a guy like me, who's 70 years old."