Memphis Grizzlies Would Suffer If Michael Heisley Buys Los Angeles Dodgers

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IIFebruary 17, 2012

CHICAGO - JANUARY 13:  Team owner Michael Heisley (C) of the memphis Grizzlies sits courtside during the Grizzlies game against the Chicago Bulls January 13, 2007 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley submitted a bid to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers last week. Heisley would bring his reputation to turning organizations around to a Dodgers franchise that has been in the gutter due to the affairs of outgoing owner Frank McCourt. That would be nice for the Dodgers, but not for the Grizzlies.

Heisley is among 11 suitors looking to buy the Dodgers. Other prospective owners include Magic Johnson, former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley, Joe Torre, sports executive Stan Kasten and the Disney family.

The bidding process is heading into its second stage now that the bidding deadline has passed. According to ESPN, the MLB has asked suitors to submit revised bids in the next week with supporting information, such as financing and five-year business plans. Afterwards, the list of bids will be pared down.

McCourt must select the owner by April 1 and close the sale by April 30.

Heisley would be a good bet to make the cut-down list of bidders after next week. The 74-year-old billionaire is the owner of Heico Companies, a Chicago-based holding company that buys and turns around bankrupt and underperforming businesses.

The Grizzlies reflect the companies that Heisley has turned around. In their first five seasons, the Grizzlies barely won 20 percent of their games. Since then, the Grizzlies are 388-544 (.416). Memphis has made four playoff appearances in the 11 full seasons that Heisley has owned the team.

Heisley has stated that he wants to see the Grizzlies to an NBA title. If the Forbes 400 member were to buy the Dodgers, the Grizzlies would have to do that within their current four-year championship window. That's how long the four key Grizzlies, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Mike Conley are locked up for.

After that, Heisley couldn't be counted upon to spend on the team.

The Dodgers would require a large investment for the next owner. The 2012 payroll is expected to be more than $100 million. In a normal year, the Dodgers would be expected to spend big.

This is a big-market team that calls for big-market signings.

In contrast, the Grizzlies are a small-market team. They're in the bottom 10 in the NBA in attendance. Typically, the Dodgers are one of the biggest draws in the MLB.

Buying a second team, one in a much bigger market and one which attracts a great deal of buzz, would distract Heisley's attention from the Grizzlies, leaving them neglected by their owner.

Fortunately, Heisley shouldn't be expected to win the bid for the Dodgers. He isn't as big a name as Torre or Johnson and he isn't a baseball guy like Torre or O'Malley. Besides, it'd be easier for the MLB to take an owner in the Los Angeles Area like Torre, O'Malley, Johnson or the Disney family.

With that, Grizzlies fans can be happy that the owner isn't about to add a second team. The Grizzlies have just emerged from the basketball abyss in the last two seasons. They shouldn't have to go back in the next five years, which would happen if Heisley buys the Dodgers.